How Does Self Tanning Lotion Work?

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Self-tanning lotions have become increasingly popular over the years as people look for ways to achieve that sun-kissed glow without exposing themselves to harmful UV rays. But have you ever wondered how these lotions work? In this article, we will explore the science behind self-tanning lotions and how they help you achieve a natural-looking tan.

What is Self-Tanning Lotion?

Self-tanning lotion is a topical product that contains dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a colorless chemical that interacts with the amino acids on the surface of your skin. When DHA comes into contact with these amino acids, it causes a chemical reaction that produces a brown pigment called melanoidin. This is what gives your skin that golden-brown hue.

How to Apply Self-Tanning Lotion

Before applying self-tanning lotion, it is important to first exfoliate your skin to remove any dead skin cells. This will help ensure that the lotion is evenly applied and will not leave any streaks. Once your skin is clean and dry, you can then apply the lotion in a circular motion, making sure to cover all areas evenly.

How Long Does it Take to See Results?

After applying self-tanning lotion, it can take anywhere from 2-4 hours to see results. This is because DHA takes time to fully react with the amino acids on your skin. It is important to avoid showering or sweating during this time as it can interfere with the chemical reaction and cause uneven results.

How Long Does a Self-Tan Last?

The longevity of a self-tan depends on several factors, including the quality of the product, how well it was applied, and how often you shower or sweat. On average, a self-tan can last anywhere from 3-7 days before it begins to fade.

Are Self-Tanning Lotions Safe?

Self-tanning lotions are generally considered safe for use. However, it is important to follow the instructions carefully and avoid getting the lotion in your eyes, mouth, or nose. If you have sensitive skin or allergies, it is recommended to do a patch test before applying the lotion all over your body.

How to Maintain a Self-Tan

To maintain a self-tan, it is important to moisturize your skin daily. This will help prevent the skin from becoming dry and flaky, which can cause the tan to fade faster. It is also important to avoid exfoliating your skin too often, as this can also cause the tan to fade faster.


Self-tanning lotions are a safe and effective way to achieve a natural-looking tan without exposing yourself to harmful UV rays. By understanding how these lotions work and how to apply them correctly, you can achieve a beautiful, sun-kissed glow all year round.