What is a Self Tanner?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 August 2019
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Self tanners are products formulated to achieve an appearance that is similar to a natural tan, without requiring the individual to spend time in the sun or in a tanning booth. A number of different self tanner products are currently on the market. The best of the self tanning products moisturize the skin even as they help create a sunless tan that is virtually indistinguishable from a traditional tan.

Also known as bronzing agents, most self tanner products darken skin with the use of an ingredient known as dihydroxyacetone. When the product is applied as directed, it is possible to achieve a credible tan within a matter of hours. Depending on the exact formula, the self tanner may produce results that remain for up to one week before there is a need to reapply.

When choosing to purchase a self tanner, it is important to remember that not all products produce the same results. Some of the less expensive formulas will darken the skin somewhat, but often leave behind an orange tinge. Others may require two or more applications spaced over several hours in order to achieve the desired results. Some self tanner formulas are specifically for short-term use, such as creating the look of a healthy tan for a social event. These types of tanning products wash off as soon as the wearer takes a shower.


By contrast, high quality self tanner products achieve results with one application and provide a deep brownish tan rather than the unnatural looking orange tan. These products also tend to not streak or leave sections of the skin that are lighter in hue than others. In addition, they don’t require a reapplication after a couple of days. Instead, the higher end products will last anywhere from four to seven days before another application is needed.

Self tanner products come in several forms. Many are simple lotions that are applied in much the same manner as suntan lotion. Others are formulated as non-drip foam that stays in place rather than running. There are even self tanner towelettes that simplify the process of applying the product even further. While there are budget priced self tanner products, it is usually a good idea to go with one of the more expensive formulas, as they usually last longer and contain skin products with various vitamins and nutrients that help to nourish the skin.

When the right self tanner is used, it is possible to achieve a sunless tan that is deep, rich and is almost identical to a tan achieved by regular time spent in the sun. However, using a self tanner has the added advantage of preventing exposure for UV rays for extended periods of time, thus minimizing the effects of sunlight on the aging process.


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