Fake Tan - Benefits, Dangers And Side Effects

Published: 01st October 2010
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We all love a good tan; but with the dangers of UV exposure and those from tanning beds increasing alarmingly, the option of having a good summer tan is decreasing day by day. But the good news is that there are some chemical processes that can provide us with the same summer glow minus the harmful side effects it comes with.

Called sunless tanning or self-tanning, dihydroxyacetone was the most popular sunless tanning or fake tan option of 2009, according to DermNet NZ.
The Work Behind The Process
This fake tan is a result of chemical reaction involving dihydroxyacetone, which is a colorless three-carbon sugar. When applied on skin, dihydroxyacetone reacts with protein molecules found in stratum corneum, the outermost layer of our epidermis. The change in pigment may be anything from yellow to dark brown depending on what type of protein this sugar is interacting with. Your skin will look tanned due to this chemical process. As it stays in the uppermost part of your epidermis, dihydroxyacetone does not damage the skin.
How Soon Do I See The Results?
The result is not instantaneous; depending upon how dihydroxyacetone and protein molecules are reacting, it will take some hours before you see the result of this chemical reaction. Generally, you will start to notice the tanning about an hour or two after using the products with dihydroxyacetone. The tanning will continue for some more days depending on the strength of the formula used. This fake tan will also fade after some days like a suntan does. It happens because the outermost layer of your skin sheds as new cells are generated. So if you want continues tanned look, you have to apply dihydroxyacetone every week repeatedly.
Sunless Tanning Benefits
With sun tan or tanning in tanning beds, you are vulnerable to skin damage. That is why sunless tanning is the best option available to you. Tanning that involves UV rays bring with it the danger of sunburn and skin cancer. Young and middle-ages adults who opt for sunless tanning methods have less chances of getting a premature aging skin and associated signs of aging like sun spots and wrinkles than those who go for sun tanning. You can maintain a healthy and beautiful skin by using dihydroxyacetone based products.
Dihydroxyacetone Side Effects
The side effects of dihydroxyacetone are minimal because it stays in the outermost layer of epidermis. Tanning effects may be uneven for first time users as they get more undesirable staining on their body parts and hands. You can however avoid this side effect of fake tan by exfoliating skin before you use dihydroxyacetone. Then apply the product evenly and wash your hand immediately to avoid undesirable staining.
A small minority of users of dihydroxyacetone have reported more serious side effects. Contact dermatitis may occur for those who are allergic to dihydroxyacetone. So if you see peeling or redness or itchy skin after using the product, stop using it and your affected area will recover within a few days. But contact your dermatologist if the problem persists.
What Are The Other Alternatives To Fake Tan
There are some more products which will give you a tan without the sun; but each comes with its share of pros and cons. You can use bronzers which are available as powder, spray and cream to get that sun-kissed look but minus the damages of sun exposure. But bronzers wash away and they donít react with the skin. Some countries allow tanning pills, which are banned in USA for its dangerous side effects which includes liver damage and other heath problems. That is why dihydroxyacetone is gaining popularity with tanners who want a healthy tan without any side effects as the downsides of other alternative sunless tanning methods increase day by day.

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