A: DHA, or dihydroxyacetone, is the active ingredient in tanning solution.
DHA is chemically derived from sugar. When applied to skin it reacts with proteins and turns them darker.
The more DHA applied and the longer it stays on the skin the darker the results.
Getting darker and browner equals a sunless tan without the cancer-causing ultraviolet rays. Nice huh?
Thanks to better refining techniques than in the 70s DHA makes people brown.
Some of the other sunless tanning chemicals turn a lot of people distinctly non-brown colors…like orange!
I don’t know about you, but when I tan, I want to look like Antonio Banderas. You know, a tall, dark, handsome Latin lover with an accent. The kind of man ladies fawn over.
Not an Uumpa Loompa.
Of all the sunless tanning chemicals DHA is by far the safest. It penetrates the outer layer of dead skin cells. That’s it.
You might also be interested in How Safe is Airbrush Tanning?
The reaction DHA causes isn’t with the melanin, the sun blocking parts of your skin, so you won’t get any sunscreen protection. So just ’cause you’re tan doesn’t mean you won’t get burned if you lay out in the sun.
I know, it’s kind of obvious but the FDA likes people to know that kind of thing.
Wear your sunscreen! I actually consider this a benefit.
Everything has it’s sticking points and tanning solution is sticky, gunky stuff. It’s like spraying yourself with sugar-water or soda-pop.
Make sure to wear loose clothing that you won’t mind getting stained.