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Self-Tanner: How to avoid the orange glow

Self-Tanner: How to avoid the orange glow

Tuesday, May 4, 2021


We all know the dangers of laying out in direct sunlight or jumping into the nearest tanning bed. So how do you achieve that perfect tanned glow without harmful ultraviolet rays? It sounds almost too good to be true, but sunless tanning can safely turn you freshly bronzed with just a dab of lotion or a spritz of spray. 

Before you reach for that miracle in a bottle, though, read on for the how-to’s of sunless tanning products. 

How it works 

Self-tanning products typically come in two forms: lotions and sprays. Most sunless tanning lotions are sold over-the-counter, while sprays can usually be found in professional salons and spas. 

The active ingredient in most of these lotions is dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, which temporarily darkens the color of the dead skin cells in the outermost layer. Like most tanning options, sunless tanning typically lasts just a few days before the skin returns to its normal color. 

Getting even results 

Before using any sunless tanning product, you’ll need to apply an exfoliator to your skin to remove any loose dead skin cells. This will allow the product to work the most effectively. 

When you’re ready to apply the tanning lotion, it’s best to put it on in sections, beginning on your torso and arms before moving to the next section. Use the least amount necessary; excessive use can result in that dreaded orange glow. Also, be sure to work the product onto your skin in a circular motion to ensure the lotion is applied evenly so you avoid streaks. And if you opt not to use gloves when applying the product, be sure to wash your hands immediately after to prevent any staining. 

Safety factors 

While the Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of DHA in sunless tanning products (as long as they are applied externally), it is not approved for use on certain parts of the face, including the eyes, nose and mouth. The FDA also recommends against the use of sunless tanning pills because they can potentially damage your eyesight, along with your liver and other vital organs. 

And remember that the active ingredients in sunless tanning lotions and sprays will not protect you against UV rays, so always use sunscreen on your self-tanned skin. 


Genesis HealthCare System’s Health and Wellness content conveniently provides accurate and helpful information. Your health history and current health may impact suggestions provided through our Health and Wellness content. Although we hope this information is helpful, it is not a substitute for your doctor's medical advice. Before making any significant changes, please consult your doctor.