Sunless Tanning Products – A Safe Alternative to Sunbathing

Skin cancer from sun exposure is a serious concern in America. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that skin cancer is the most common cause of cancer in the United States. According to a 2007 CDC study, almost 60,000 people developed skin cancer and over 8000 victims died from the deadly disease.

How can you develop a tan and not suffer from the damage caused by the sun’s harsh ultraviolet rays? The answer is sunless tanning. A recent study conducted by the Archives of Dermatology revealed that people who use sunless tanning products were 33% less likely to sunbathe.

Sunless Tanning Products

Sunless tanning products, otherwise known as self tanners are sold in the form of creams, lotions, sprays and gels. They have an ingredient called dihydroxyacetone. This active ingredient is what’s responsible for temporarily darkening the skin.

Another active ingredient is tyrosine. This amino acid can help accelerate the tanning of the skin by acting as a sort of catalyst to help reduce skin pigment. The color caused by both of these chemicals will gradually fade from your skin in about five to seven days after application.

About an hour after applying the product, you can already start to see the skin darken. Some products will take approximately 24 hours for full-color to appear, while others will darken the skin almost immediately.



According to the Mayo Clinic, sunless tanning products are a safe alternative to harsh UV rays from the sun. The FDA also recognizes this product as safe when applied to the skin.


The sunless tanning products can be purchased from a wide variety of health and beauty stores. This will allow you to apply them in the comfort of your own home.

Another added benefit is that they take less time than trying to sunbathe to get a real tan. If you choose to have the product applied professionally, there are many health spas that now sell and apply these products.

Application Tips

Before applying the self tanner, use a washcloth to exfoliate your skin. Washing your skin prior to application will remove excess dead skin cells. This helps to assist in producing a smooth, even appearance on the skin.

For best results, choose a color that is closest to your natural skin tone. Light to medium products usually work best.

Always wash your hands with soap and water after application to avoid discoloring the palms of your hands.

Apply the sunless tanning product evenly over your entire body for a natural appearance. Wait at least15 to 20 minutes before dressing to avoid staining your clothes.

Self tanners only have about an SPF4, so you should still apply sunscreen if you plan on being out in the sun for any length of time. A sunscreen with a minimum SPF15 is recommended for sun exposure.

After you apply the product to your body and face, wash your hands and use cotton balls for the top of your hands. This will help to avoid discoloration on your palms.


After you start to see your tan fade, it’s time for removal. The best way to do this is to soak in the bath for about 20 to 30 minutes. This will allow your skin to soften, while removing dead skin cells at the same time.

After the bath, massage baking soda into your damp skin in small gentle circles. You can now wipe your body off with cotton pads soaked with alcohol-free toner or liquid makeup remover.

If you still have some troublesome spots, you can use body hair bleach on those stubborn areas.

Alternatives to Sunless Tanning Products

In addition to self tanning topical products, there are also pills that are available on the market. Unfortunately the pills are not the “magic pills” that some proprietors may claim. According to the FDA, the “tanning pills” are not currently approved and consumers should be aware of possible risks that are associated with them.

There have been some adverse effects reported by people who used the pills. Consumers claim to have suffered from various side effects, such as eye problems, nausea, diarrhea, itching and cramping.

Bottom Line

A bronze body may look appealing, but is it really worth the risk of skin cancer? Sunless tanning products can help to answer that question for you.

The fact that research has proven that self tanning topical creams are safer than sunbathing and they can still give you that sun-kissed look is reason alone to give them a try. They really can be the best of both worlds for people who are looking to get a convenient tan.


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