How Do Sunless Tanning Products Work?


Gone are the days, when you had to bake yourself for several hours in the sun to get that perfect bronzed look. With sunless tanning products gaining popularity, the process of tanning has become far more simpler and safer. But, despite the increasing popularity of these products, not many people know how they actually work.

Well, different sunless tanning products work in different ways to give you that bronzed complexion. However, their basic mechanism remains the same. They affect the stratum corneum, which is the outermost layer of the epidermis.

Our skin is primarily made up of two layers namely- the epidermis and the dermis. While the epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin, the dermis is on the inside. The epidermis, again is made up of several layers.

The deepest layer of the epidermis is called the stratum basale or basal layer, and the outermost layer is called stratum corneum or horny layer. When you go for sun tanning, the stratum basale or basal layer gets affected. However, when you are using sunless tanning products, it is the stratum corneum that gets affected.

Let us study in detail how different types of sunless tanning products affect the stratum corneum to give you a bronzed look.

Tanning products with dihydroxyacetone (DHA)
These are by far the most popular category of sunless tanning products available in the market. Dihydroxyacetone or DHA is a colorless sugar that interacts with dead cells in the stratum corneum. This reaction causes a change in color of the skin cells, which gives you a tanned complexion.

Tanning accelerators
This category of sunless tanning products contains amino acid tyrosine as the primary ingredient. Tyrosine present in these products stimulates and increases the production of Melanin in the skin. Melanin is the chemical that is considered responsible for darkening of the skin.

Tanning pill
Tanning pills have come to use only in the recent times. These pills contain a chemical known as canthaxanthin, which is used as a color additive in foods. Though this substance is used in small quantities as a color additive, it needs to be used in larger quantities if you want a tanned complexion. When consumed internally, this canthaxanthin is deposited over the entire body including your skin, which leads to change in color. While tanning pills can be quite effective in changing the color of your skin, they are known to have several serious side effects.

Bronzers
These products are more like makeup. They can be applied to offer a one off tan. Apply them once and you can remove them easily with soap and water once you are done.

It is important that you weigh both- the pros and cons of each of these sunless tanning products, before you opt for a particular one.