If you’re hoping to achieve a healthy glow without the risks associated with sun exposure, then self tanner is a great option. But how long does self tanner last? We’ll discuss five great ways to extend your glow, and one of the best self tanner products on the market.

Ever since dermatologists taught the public that “a nice healthy tan” is anything but nice and healthy, people have been searching for ways to make their skin more attractive without using dangerous ultraviolet radiation. Fortunately, a chemical process called the Maillard reaction has afforded people a safer way to achieve a pleasing bronze glow by applying popular self tanning products directly to their skin.

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Most self tanning products are based on the active ingredient dihydroxyacetone, commonly called DHA. The Food and Drug Administration has approved DHA as a cosmetic ingredient that can produce darker skin pigmentation lasting up to a week. In this article, we’ll look at some ways to administer these products that will give you long-lasting, natural-looking results.

How Long Does Self Tanner Last? 5 Great Ways to Extend Your Glow is an original (HisHealthMag) article.

How long does self tanner last? The skinny on a “sunless tan”

DHA works differently on the skin than UV rays and is considered a much safer method of producing the bronze glow that is highly prized among many consumers. Scientific evidence linking exposure to the sun and the development of skin cancer goes back decades, and organizations such as the Skin Cancer Foundation have been working to educate the public about those dangers. The Foundation’s website says one in five Americans will develop skin cancer before age 70, and the top two causes are exposure to the sun and UV rays from indoor tanning beds.

Scientists have known about DHA and its skin-darkening properties for almost a century, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that the first “sunless tan” products hit the market. Although they were a safer alternative to UV rays, the early products were considerably crude and often resulted in skin that was more orange than bronze.

More research into DHA and the Maillard reaction has produced more advanced self tanning formulations that include gels, lotions, mousses, sprays, and wipes. DHA is a sugar molecule taken from plants, and it reacts chemically with amino acids in the outer layer of human skin. Within a couple of hours of application, it begins to produce pigments called melanoidins that are similar to melanin.

Furthermore, DHA doesn’t simply wash off because it is resistant to regular water, soap, and sweat exposure. Instead, the tan it produces begins to fade gradually within three to seven days due to the natural process of skin exfoliation.

How long does self tanner last

How long does self tanner last? 5 tips to prolong the glow

Because DHA does its magic on the very top layer of skin, the best way to extend a sunless tan is to take care of that layer before applying the self tanning product. Here are five suggestions that should help you keep the bronze look days longer.

  • First, exfoliate your skin with a washcloth before using a self tanner. Take extra time exfoliating where your skin is thickest – on the elbows, knees, and ankles.
  • Make sure to dry your skin so the self tanner can be applied smoothly and evenly.
  • Apply the DHA product using a circular motion in one section of the body at a time. For instance, you may do the arms first, followed by the legs, and then the torso.
  • Blend at your wrists and ankles to achieve a more natural look. To do this, lightly extend the tanner from your wrists to your hands and from your ankles to your feet.
  • Finally, make sure you are using the appropriate DHA formulation for your skin type. Lotions tend to last the longest, but sprays eliminate blotches and streaks. Gels dry faster, and mousses have less moisture and thus work well for consumers with oily skin.
A young attractive man touches his face skin while standing in front of the mirror.

How long does self tanner last?

The quality of the product makes a big difference

With so many self tanning agents on the market, consumers can find products ranging from bargain-basement brands all the way to high-end treatments with premium ingredients. The old adage about getting what you pay for holds true in these products, with many of the best products being found at or above the median price range.

One exceptional product is Bro Glo, which is specially formulated to work well on a man’s skin. The company states it researched the existing products on the market and found that most of them were formulated for women. They felt those products contained too much perfume smell, produced tans that were too dark, and took too much time to apply. As the company’s website puts it:

“At Bro Glo, we strive to make the best self-tanner for men. But, most importantly, our mission is to help guys look and feel their best so they have the confidence they deserve.”

Man applying self tanner on her face.

How long does self tanner last?

Remember to use protection

DHA products give the appearance of a suntan without actual exposure to the sun. That said, they provide very limited protection against UV rays, but most formulations have a very low Sun Protection Factor. As such, for adequate protection against solar damage, consumers still need to apply sunscreen whenever they are directly exposed to the sun. Choosing a product with a broad-spectrum, water-resistant formula with an SPF of 30 or higher is advisable.

Further reading:

National Library of Medicine: A Review of Common Tanning Methods

Scientific Americans: How do sunless tanners work?

Consumer Report: Is Self Tanner Safe, and Should You Be Using It Overnight?

Important Note: The information contained in this article (How Long Does Self Tanner Last? 5 Great Ways to Extend Your Glow) is for general informational purposes only, and should not be construed as health or medical advice, nor is it intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease or health condition. Before embarking on any diet, fitness regimen, or program of nutritional supplementation, it is advisable to consult your healthcare professional in order to determine its safety and probable efficacy in terms of your individual state of health.

Regarding Nutritional Supplements Or Other Non-Prescription Health Products: If any nutritional supplements or other non-prescription health products are mentioned in the foregoing article, any claims or statements made about them have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and such nutritional supplements or other health products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


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