All the scariness surrounding skin cancer is enough to make you want to hide under a rock this summer! But that sun-kissed look is so appealing. Many of us are turning to sunless tanning lotions to give us that golden glow, but are commercial sunless tanners safe? How do they work? Is there such a thing as a natural sunless tanner? What to do?
The only active ingredient approved by the FDA for use in sunless tanning products is DHA (dihydroxyacetone). This is a colorless sugar that reacts with the dead cells located in the upper layer of the skin. As the sugar interacts with the dead skin cells, a color change occurs. The effect is temporary, because as the dead cells naturally slough off, the color fades, disappearing within a week unless the lotion has been reapplied.
Is DHA safe to use? The Environmental Working Group lists “0” health concerns on their website. The MSDS sheet for this ingredient also lists no health effects beyond the possibility of mild irritation.
If you would like to give your skin a darker color naturally without going out in the sun, try this concoction. It doesn’t contain any sugar, but it works beautifully:
Natural Sunless Tanning Lotion
3/4 cup pure water
3 black tea bags
1/4 cup lanolin
1/4 cup sesame oil
1. Boil the water and use it to brew the teabags until the mixture is strong.
2. Put 1/4 cup of this strong tea in a blender along with the lanolin and sesame oil and blend at low speed. Add remaining tea gradually, with motor running.
3. Try this mixture on a hidden spot first to test. Use sparingly.
Adapted from Debra’s Guide to Choosing Natural Sun Protection, by Debra Lynn Dadd (an e-book available here).