What Is Sunless Tanning?

With summer just around the corner, both men and women want to look good lounging by the pool. Sure, you can lie out in the direct sunlight to get a great tan, or you can spend time under the UV lights of a tanning bed. There’s also a third option: getting a bronze glow through something called “sunless tanning.”

So what is sunless tanning? Well, the term usually refers to the process of putting chemicals on your skin in order to make it appear as if it had a natural tan (although other ways do exist). Sunless tanning is also known as UV-free tanning or self-tanning.

Nobody asked “What is sunless tanning,” prior to the 1960s, as this was when the first sunless tanning methods were developed. Since that time, more and more types of sunless tanning products have appeared on the market.

Below, we’ll take a look at the various types of sunless tanning products. We’ll examine the ingredients contained within, plus we’ll also look at any possible drawbacks or consumer complaints.

Temporary Bronzers


If you’re only looking for a one-day tan, you might be interested in the temporary bronzers. They are available in lotions, powders, sprays, gels and moisturizers.

When these products are applied to the skin, they create an artificial tan which can later be completely removed with soap and water. Some of these products also have the ability to resist light amounts of sweat or water. This means you can lounge by the pool and not worry about sweating away your temporary tan.

If you’re going to be wearing tight-fitting clothes over your temporary bronzer, please remember that some of the product may rub off onto your clothing. For this reason, dark clothes work best, and light clothing should always be avoided.

Tanning Products Containing Canthaxanthin

If you’re wondering “What is sunless tanning,” you should be aware of products containing an ingredient called canthaxanthin. This ingredient is most commonly used as a color additive in certain foods, but it can be also added to a tanning pill for the purposes of temporarily bronzing your skin.

After swallowing the tanning pill, canthaxanthin goes throughout the body. By settling in the layer of fat below the skin, it gives your skin the appearance of being tanned.

Keep in mind that the FDA does not approve canthaxanthin as a tanning agent; in fact, the FDA has issued warnings related to its use. This is partially due to side effects including hepatitis, damage to the digestive system, and damage to the surface of the skin. Another possible side effect is canthaxanthin retinopathy, a condition in which yellow deposits form in the retina of the eye.

Tanning Products Containing DHA

Products containing dihydroxyacetone (also known as DHA) are considered by many experts to be the most effective for sunless tanning. Unlike other self-tanning products, DHA does not stain your skin; instead, it causes a chemical reaction with the amino acids contained on the dead layer of surface skin.

This type of tan will fade within 3 to 10 days. Products containing DHA are available in wipes, sprays, gels, lotions and mousses. Once the product has been fully absorbed by the body (usually in one to six hours), the user can go swimming without losing the tan.

In some cases, DHA can cause contact dermatitis on the skin of the user. It is therefore recommended that first-time users apply the product onto a small part of their body and wait 24 hours for any possible side effects.

In addition to the kits for home application, products containing DHA may also be applied at gyms, spas and salons. This application may take the form of a booth which sprays the solution all over the body of the client.

Other options include having the tan sprayed on by an airbrush or spray gun. These devices are usually portable, and clients can have the solution applied at their local mall or in kiosks near the beach. Airbrush kits can also be purchased which allow the client to self-apply the tanning solution.

DHA is considered nontoxic, and it has been approved for cosmetic use by the FDA. It has also been recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Cancer Society, the American Medical Association, and the Skin Cancer Organization.

Tanning Products Containing Tyrosine

The amino acid Tyrosine is contained in lotions or pills and used to stimulate the formation of melanin. These tanning accelerators require exposure to UV rays in order to work properly.