The principle tanning agent used in all self-tanning formulas is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). This ingredient does not produce a “real tan” by increasing the skin’s melanin levels, rather it creates a tanned appearance by developing a brown color on the surface of the skin.
The action of DHA is limited to the upper layer of the skin and involves a reaction between DHA and skin proteins and oxygen that produces brown compounds. This process is similar to what occurs when you slice open an apple and the surface of the apple browns when it’s exposed to the oxygen in the air.
The development of color takes anywhere from 2 to 4 hours and the intensity of color is dependent upon the DHA concentration in the product as well as each tanner’s individual skin characteristics. The color developed by the DHA usually lasts 5 to 7 days and begins to fade as the top layer of the skin naturally exfoliates.
How do sunless/self-tanners work?
How long will my sunless tan last?
The longevity of a sunless tan depends on the type of self-tanning application, the skin’s natural exfoliation process, and on the skincare regimen followed before and after application.
On average, self-tanners last 4-7 days. A professionally application, I.e. a sunless tan received at a salon or spa, will last longer than an at-home application as there is usually a greater percentage of DHA used.
At-home application (lotions, sprays, mousse, etc.) = 3 to 5 days
Professional application (stand-up spray units, airbrush, Custom Bronzing) = 5 to 7 days
The “life span” of a sunless tan also depends on your skin’s natural exfoliation. The faster your skin turns over, the faster the sunless tan will fade. The tan created by the DHA affects only the top layer of the skin and will begin to fade after 4 to 5 days as the skin naturally begins to exfoliate.
Following a good skin care regimen before and after sunless tanning will help a sunless tan last longer. Exfoliating prior to a sunless tanning application and keeping skin moisturized afterwards are essential. Sunless tan-extending products with a light self-tanning bronzer, like Norvell® Color Extender Pro-long™ Moisturizer, help hydrate skin and maintain even, natural-looking color longer.
How long should I wait after using a self-tanner before I shower?
DHA solutions take about 16-hours to fully develop. Clients will receive the best results if they can avid bathing until the day after their sunless session. If they must bathe, they should wait a minimum of 6-hours after the application.
If showering prior to the 16-hour post application recommendation, a simple rinse with water only, is best. Soap destroys DHA. Delayed bathing allows the DHA bronzer sufficient time to complete its reaction with the amino acids (proteins) within the skin.
NOTE: It is important to educate your customer regarding instant/cosmetic bronzers. The cosmetic bronzer is the color that is immediately visible during the session and it will wash off during the first shower, revealing the DHA bronze tan beneath. An uneducated client may think their tan is washing down the drain.
Why is keeping skin moisturized essential to maintain great sunless results?
It is important to keep skin moisturized after sunless tanning as dry, flaky skin will slough off faster and color will fade sooner. Your goal is to basically slow down your body’s natural exfoliation process.
Will the bronzers from a spray tanning application rub-off on my clothes?
If you are using a spray solution with a cosmetic bronzer (water-soluble make-up), some of the bronze color may rub off on clothing or bed sheets. This is most likely to happen when you get dressed immediately after tanning.
To minimize the chance of the bronzers transferring to clothing, we recommend you wear loose-fitting, darker clothes after your spray session. Try to refrain from physical exertion that could result in your sweating until you shower and wash off the cosmetic bronzers.
It is however important to note bronzers may stain light hair, wool, spandex, lycra, silks or other fine fabrics. If product comes into contact with hands or clothing rinse immediately.
Will I turn 'Orange'?
High pH levels in the skin can sometimes give individuals an undesirable, ‘fake’ non-natural looking sunless color. Sunless application on skin that is out of balance due to high pH levels sometimes results in what many people refer to as an ‘orange’ coloring. Spray Tan Express uses a pH Balancing Spray prior to sunless application. This product is formulated to lower the pH levels of the skin giving a more golden brown color and maximizing your sunless results.