Q: What is it and how does it work? A: All sunless tanning formulas use an ingredient called dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which is a simple carbohydrate derived from beets and sugar cane. DHA reacts chemically with the amino acids in the skin to create a non-toxic browning effect. Q: Who discovered it? A: In 1957, the tanning properties of DHA were discovered in a children’s hospital where it was administered orally as a treatment of a childhood glycogen storage disease. Scientist Eva Wittgenstein noticed that brown spots developed where the DHA splashed on the skin. Research then continued on DHA’s skin coloring effect in relation to treatment for patients suffering from vitiligo. Q: Is it safe? A: Yes. DHA is not absorbed through the skin into the body and is non-toxic. DHA has been FDA approved since 1973, and has been used in cosmetic preparations for almost 30 years. Q: Will it make me look orange? A: Sunless tanning got a reputation for looking orange because the formulas had a very high percentage of DHA. They were using 20-25 percent instead of the 5-14 percent that is commonly used now. If the percentage is too high for you, it will appear orange on your skin, no matter what brand or product you use. Find a spray tan professional that knows the percentages of DHA in their formulas and one that is willing to customize the solution for you.
As a general guide:
Fair skin: 5-7%
Dark skin: 10-14%
Q: How do I prepare? A: Sunless tanning only effects the top layer of skin, so you want to remove as much dead skin as possible before, and then slow down your skin’s natural exfoliation after.
Before and After Instructions
Shave or wax
Mani/Pedis (if you must do after tan, don’t soak hands or feet in water)
Airbrush tan is applied to the top layer of skin, which is why dead skin cells should be exfoliated and removed in order to extend the life of your tan. Our skin naturally exfoliates when we shower and towel dry, so if you don’t have time to “exfoliate” you will be fine (tan from 5-7 days), but for optimal results (7-10) exfoliate your skin using a body wash with exfoliating beads or simply use a washcloth the slough off dead skin (soaking in water for 10-20 mins before exfoliating is optimal, but not necessary).
Day of Appointment
Avoid body moisturizer and oil
Avoid skin products that contain alcohol (perfumes, body spray)
Wear loose clothing and avoid sweating or showering for 8 hours
On the day of your airbrush appointment, take a shower to clean your skin, and remove all makeup. Do not apply lotions or perfumes, and wear deodorant sparingly. Wear loose-fitting clothing, and nothing that fits too tight, such as skinny jeans that could rub the bronzer off. Covered footwear is a must if rain is in the forecast (sneakers or boots with socks) otherwise sandals are just fine. For women, you can go nude or wear underwear (or swimsuit), the bronzer rinses out of cotton. For men, please wear underwear or speedo.
Moisturize daily but avoid anything with mineral oil like Vaseline, baby oil and Nivea lotion.
Use a gentle liquid soap and don’t scrub or exfoliate
Wait at least 8 hours to shower. Moisture, even from sweating, can cause your bronze tan to run. DHA, the ingredient in airbrush tans, takes hours to fully activate and bring out your tan. To extend your tan, apply moisturizer every day and avoid hot baths or chlorine water.