. How do self-tanning products change the color of my skin?
Are they safe?
A. The key ingredient of many effective self-tanning products is a ingredient derived from sugar called dihydroxyacetone, or DHA.
It works by reacting with amino acids in the dead cells of the thin, outermost layer of the skin, called the stratum corneum, to produce pigments called melanoidins. The color lasts three to seven days, until those cells are sloughed off.
Using products with DHA to get a tan is safer than sun exposure. DHA is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and is considered safe by most dermatologists, but only when the products are used as approved.
They should be applied only to the surface of the skin, avoiding eyes, lips and mucous membranes. Spray-tanning booths are not recommended, even when nose plugs and goggles are used. We highly recommend custom spray tanning that has ventilation and custom application.