How Do Self Tanners Work?

Skin Care


One excellent self tanner: Clinique Self Sun Face, $18.50,

Self tanners are like the Alfred Hitchcock of the skin care world: they are very popular, yet they work in mysterious ways. However, recently, I decided to uncover the secrets of the self tanner, and I thought that it might be interesting to share.

Most self-tanners work by using dihydroxyacetone (DHA) as the main ingredient. According to a report from The Danish Ministry of the Environment, DHA reacts with amino acids and amino groups during the formation of melanoids (pigments), on the outermost layer of the skin (stratum corneum). The reaction between DHA and amino acids and amino groups results in the formation of pyruvate and other hydroxycarbonyl compounds (see below).



The next stages involve amine reaction with keto- (i.e, a compound with a C=O group) and aldo (i.e., a compound with an H-C=O group) compounds to form ketoimines and aldoimines:



The resulting skin cells turn a tan-like color, which fades over time because the skin sheds itself completely every 35 to 45 days. Because this is process gradual, companies generally recommend that you reapply a self-tanner every 2 to 3 days in order to maintain the same level of tan.Tune in Monday evening (after 9 EST) for four steps to your perfect self-tanning job! 😉

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  • Aisha San Girard

    Cant locate the “Tweet This” link on this specific site??

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