Staying healthy (21)
- Cosmetic surgery: What to know beforehand
- Vaccines for adults: Which do you need?
- Bone health: Tips to keep your bones healthy
- see all in Staying healthy
Dental care (7)
- Oral health: Brush up on dental care basics
- Oral health: A window to your overall health
- Calcium and calcium supplements: Achieving the right balance
- see all in Dental care
Skin care (17)
- Best sunscreen: Understand sunscreen options
- Sunless tanning: What you need to know
- Tattoos: Understand risks and precautions
- see all in Skin care
Nail care (1)
- Fingernails: Do's and don'ts for healthy nails
Eye care (9)
- Eye injury: Tips to protect vision
- Contact lenses: What to know before you buy
- LASIK eye surgery
- see all in Eye care
- Sleep aids: Understand over-the-counter options
- Napping: Do's and don'ts for healthy adults
- Sleep deprivation: Know the risks
- see all in Sleep
Mental health (11)
- Mental health: What's normal, what's not
- Empty nest syndrome: Tips for coping
- Friendships: Enrich your life and improve your health
- see all in Mental health
Healthy relationships (10)
- Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness
- Domestic violence against men: Know the signs
- Domestic violence against women: Recognize patterns, seek help
- see all in Healthy relationships
Healthy at work (11)
- Workplace exercises: How to burn calories at work
- Desk stretches: How-to video collection
- Office ergonomics: Your how-to guide
- see all in Healthy at work
Sunless tanning: What you need to know
Sunless tanning is a practical alternative to sunbathing. Find out how sunless tanning products work, including possible risks and how to get the best results.By Mayo Clinic staff
Don't want to expose your skin to the sun's damaging rays, but still want that sun-kissed glow? Consider trying sunless tanning products. Start by understanding how sunless tanning products work — and the importance of applying them carefully and correctly.
How do sunless tanning products work?
Sunless tanning products, also called self-tanners, can give your skin a tanned look without exposing it to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Sunless tanning products are commonly sold as lotions and sprays you apply to your skin. Professional spray-on tanning also is available at many salons, spas and tanning businesses.
The active ingredient in most sunless tanning products is the color additive, dihydroxyacetone. When applied, dihydroxyacetone reacts with dead cells in the skin's surface to temporarily darken the skin. The coloring typically wears off after a few days.
Sunless tanning products might or might not contain sunscreen. If a product does contain sunscreen, it will only be effective for a couple of hours. The color produced by the sunless tanning product won't protect your skin from ultraviolet rays. If you spend time outdoors, sunscreen remains essential.
What about sunless tanning pills?
Sunless tanning pills, which typically contain the color additive canthaxanthin, are unsafe. When taken in large amounts, canthaxanthin can turn your skin orange or brown and cause hives, liver damage and impaired vision.Next page
(1 of 2)
- What about tanning pills and other tanning products? American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/SunandUVExposure/SkinCancerPreventionandEarlyDetection/skin-cancer-prevention-and-early-detection-tanning-pills-and-products. Accessed April 25, 2013.
- The sun and your skin. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/skin-conditions/skin-health-tips/how-to-apply-self-tanner. Accessed Feb. 18, 2013.
- Sivamani RK, et al. The benefits and risks of ultraviolet tanning and its alternatives: The role of prudent sun exposure. Dermatologic Clinics. 2009;27:149.
- Pagoto SL, et al. Design and methods for a cluster randomized trial of the Sunless Study: A skin cancer prevention intervention promoting sunless tanning among beach visitors. BMC Public Health. 2009;9:50.
- Cosmetics. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductandIngredientSafety/ProductInformation/ucm134064.htm. Accessed Feb. 18, 2013.
- Tanning products. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/radiation-EmittingProducts/RadiationEmittingProductsandProcedures/tanning/ucm116434.htm. Accessed Feb. 18, 2013.
- Yourick JJ, et al. Fate of chemicals in skin after dermal application: Does the in vitro skin reservoir affect the estimate of systemic absorption? Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. 2004;195:309.