Self tanner can leave you with a browning glow or it can leave you looking like a Willy Wonka Umpa Lumpa. The best self tanner can help keep your skin hydrated and smooth or, choose wrong and it can dry your skin out like the Sahara desert. It can smell like a watermelon or leave you with the whiff of an over baked chocolate chip cookie. It can give you an even, beautiful glow, or it could gift you patchy, streaky orange bits.
Most people believe the best self tan is about application, exfoliation and moisturiser.
Not many people know the best self tanner is all about choosing the right active ingredient.
Aka – choosing a DHA free fake tan.
This my friend, is the secret…
How Does Fake Tan Work?
If you already use sunless tanner, you my fellow skin savvy are one step ahead. Self tanners are a great way to age guard your skin. See, when you catch a real tan you expose your skin to ageing UV light. The kind that causes deep trough like sun wrinkles. However, when you avoid UV light, use lots of sun cream and instead choose a self tanner – you age proof your skin.
…and considering UV light is the biggest ageing cause under your control. Fake tan, self tanner or sunless tanners are your perfect best of both worlds solution.
When they work the right way.
Most fake tans you’ll have used before reading this will work because of an ingredient called dihydroxyacetone or DHA for short. DHA doesn’t dye your skin, meaning when a fake tan goes patchy, you won’t be able to wash it off. Instead DHA based self tanners work because they react with your skin.
Tiny molecules of DHA react with even tinier molecules of your skin proteins. The result – an orangey brown colour. Although not all self tanners go orangey brown – this my friend, is again all about the active ingredient in your self tanner.
DHA based fake tanners use between 2-5% DHA. They take about 3-6 hours to start working and they continue to make your skin brown for the next 1 to 3 days.
DHA Tanning Side Effects
Using a DHA based self tanner comes with side effects. I bet you’ve seen them. The most obvious side effect is patchy orange-brown streaks. You think you rubbed it in evenly, next thing you know you have brown streaks up the side of your legs and orange blotches at the top of your arms…. and it always happens just before date night, before a big work event or just as the weather warms up and it’s suddenly shorts O’clock. Been here?
DHA self tanners can easily cause you a streaky tan. This is why you want to look for a DHA free fake tan – more about this very soon.
DHA based self tanners work at self-tan-formula-1-speed. Remember how we said they begin to make your skin brown in as little as 3 hours? This is quick. And it’s because they work so quickly, that they have the side effect of streaky tan. They’ve barely absorbed into your skin, before they’re reacting with your skin proteins. These guys are just too excitable.
They’re toddler like energy levels mean your DHA based fake tan won’t last long. You shed skin cells every day and it’s the top ones that go first. As DHA self tanners only get to chat with your skin’s top layers, their brown sunless tan effect is short-lived.
Is DHA in self tanners safe?
DHA based self tanners are a whole lot safer than a real tan. UV light is a carcinogen. DHA is not. However, this doesn’t mean DHA by itself is also a completely side effectless ingredient. In fact recently DHA has been pointed at for causing wrinkles and ageing your skin.
Just what is going on here?
The culprit is DHA and sunlight… and it’s another reaction. DHA has been found to make ageing ingredients called free radicals when it comes into contact with sunlight.
— Cheryl Woodman (@HonestyForSkin) 30 October 2017
Free radicals are super reactive atoms or molecules which stress your skin like babysitting a 2-year-old on a days worth of candy would. They have an immense amount of energy and they have the potential to off load it into your skin.
When this happens, it causes premature ageing. Aka photo ageing.
DHA Free Fake Tan
There are a skyscraper sized amount of skincare ingredients, however there are only 2 commonly used self tanner ingredients. This is perfect. It makes choosing a DHA free fake tan, easy and simple.
It means making sure your best self tanner doesn’t contain the word dihydroxyacetone on the ingredients list.
And instead contains the word erythrulose.
These are the 2 sunless tanning ingredients you have to choose from.
While they work similarly, erythrulose has a strong edge over dihydroxyacetone.
Where DHA can be drying a DHA free fake tan containing erythrulose can help hydrate your skin. Where DHA self tanners can go streaky, DHA free fake tan won’t. Where DHA sunless tanners can give you Umpa Lumpa orange, DHA free fake tan develops into a natural looking colour. Where DHA fake tan smells potent, DHA free fake tan has just a tickle of a scent. Where DHA self tanners can fade quickly, DHA free fake tan will last longer.
There are lots of benefits.
And many of them are down to this one simple difference. Erythrulose isn’t as reactive as DHA, meaning it has more time to absorb into your skin before it reacts with your skin’s proteins.
Imagine making a bowl of porridge, if DHA were your milk substitute, your porridge would be a milky mixture of oat flakes. Before you could turn it into creamy porridge, you’d be stuck at soup station. However, If you where to choose erythrulose as your milk substitute, your bowl of porridge would be happily cruising through to Goldilocks and the 3 Bears breakfast table.
Some things… like porridge and fake tan, need time to get themselves right.
Erythrulose based fake tan allows your skin the time it needs to make sure your tan doesn’t go streaky, patchy or fade away too quickly.
Because of this, when you use a DHA free fake tan, you’ll get a more even, natural looking colour… with one difference; it will take longer to develop. Where DHA based self tanners can brown your skin in as little as 3 hours, DHA free fake tan will take a day with best results in 3. They work more slowly, but they also last a lot longer.
Self Tanner Without DHA
Now my friend, finding a DHA free fake tan is not as easy as you might think. There are DHA self tanners which are only based on DHA, there are DHA fake tans which also use erythrulose and then there are just a handful of completely DHA free self tanners.
When you’re looking for a DHA free fake tan, you really do have to check the ingredients list.
Because this is what happens if you search Google for DHA free self tanner…
You get 5 shopping results which are all self tanners based on dihydroxyacetone. My friend, as helpful as Google shopping results are, they’re not the best tool to help you find skincare that works… or even skincare that’s already what you’re looking for.
Best Self Tanner: The Chemistry Brand Glow Oil
Now this is a diamond in the rough. The Chemistry Brand Glow Oil is a DHA free self tanner based completely on erythrulose, no DHA in sight. Aka goodbye streaky tan, aka hello healthy, natural looking tan.
This is a true to name DHA free self tanner with all those DHA free fake tan benefits.
- A natural looking tan colour
- Healthy hydrated skin
- Low or in this case watermelon scent
- No streaks
- Long lasting
- Sensitive skin friendly
Rather than being a fully oil based oil that takes a while to feel like it’s absorbed in, the DHA free glow oil is a fast-absorbing water based formula. It’s also packed with water attracting hydration binding ingredients which condition and nourish aka you’d never have guessed what you’d just applied was a self tanner.
GLOW “OIL” is finally here! You probably already know that we like our skin to glow and we hate DHA (the common self-tanning ingredient that causes cell death: look up “dha tanning cell suicide” on Google). Our multi-award-winning hand and body brand––Hand Chemistry––has just introduced Glow “Oil” for the whole body. It’s a fast-absorbing dry body oil that contains three very happy things: 1) a prismatic gold technology for immediate golden radiance; 2) our “bound” raspberry keto-sugar that works as an alternative to self-tan to build gradual colour day after day with none of the drawbacks of DHA (which smells, stains, turns orange and kills cells); 3) an ultra-hydrating, non-sticky, fast-absorbing sea-algae water reservoir (yes, water reservoir in our oil formula) that builds below-surface hydration over time for a perfect skin finish. We’re rolling out everywhere over the next few months. Glow “Oil” is now available with free world-wide shipping here: http://bit.ly/1VmW9fE. If you’re in the UK, we have pre-launched exclusively with Victoria Health atwww.victoriahealth.com (if you don’t know them, you should––they make life better). #SelfTan #SelfTanner #GlowOil #Glow #SunKissedSkin #RadiantSkin #TannedSkin #Tanning #GlowingSkin #TanningSkin #Skincare
Hint: If your skin feels a little tacky after using, this is why. Glow oil is busy magnetising water molecules to your skin’s location.
The Chemistry Brand Glow Oil also tackles the one reason why you might prefer to use a DHA based self tanner – it works more quickly. To combat this glow oil contains tiny ‘invisible prism’ particles of what look like gold dust (think eye shadow) which immediately give your skin a sun kissed look. It covers the in-between while you’re waiting a day for erythrulose to do its thing. Tick and tick.
If you’re on the hunt for DHA free fake tan, look no further than, The Chemistry Brand Glow Oil. It has all your bases covered. Say hello to safe, streak free tanning.
Which sunless self tanning products have you used? Are you yet to use a DHA free fake tan? Want to know more? Come question me in the comments below…
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.