Thursday, June 3, 2010

Spa Girl asks... What's a Sun Goddess to do?

Its pouring rain and cold and all I can think about is summer! But what’s a sun goddess to do when relaxing (OK tanning) is not the best way to take care of your skin? Summer wardrobes definitely need to be seen with a little sun-kissed glow so Spa Girl went on the hunt for the best way to achieve that “I’ve been to the beach” look.

I’ve decided given all my research tanning beds are definitely out, as is sitting in the sun for extended periods of time without a really good sun block. Like so many other sun goddesses, I have become very interested in self-tanning products. But what are they and are they safe?

Remember QT a “Quick Tan” product introduced in the 1960’s by Coppertone. I know, I date myself, but I do remember using this product; oh my, tinted palms, streaking and let’s face it a rather fake-looking orange tan. But self-tanning products have come a long way.

"They're easier to use than ever, the color appears more natural, and some lotions even contain sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF)," says Stanley B. Levy, MD, adjunct clinical professor of dermatology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill.

Self-tanning products work by temporarily dyeing the surface of the skin, this happens because of a chemical reaction with amino acids found in the skins surface cells. These products to not damage the skin as they only affect the outermost cells of the epidermis. Dihydroxyacetone or DHA, also known as glycerine, used in these self-tanning products, is a simple carbohydrate derived from plant sources. Once applied the tan accelerates over two to four hours and will continue to darken for 24 to 72 hours, depending on the formulation type. Your tan will fade gradually over 3 to 10 days, in conjunction with the skin's normal exfoliation process unless you reapply.

The Skin Caner Foundation cautions...

Don't be misled when products sound like self-tanning lotions — "Tanning amplifiers," "tan accelerators," "tanning promoters," "tanning enhancers," and worst of all, "tanning pills." Many of the products interact with the sun to create the tan, so they actually end up accentuating the damage done to the skin. The pills — which are commercially banned in the U.S. — are the worst.

“Read the ingredients on the label of all these products carefully," says Dr. Levy. "Unless their active ingredient is DHA, they're not bona fide sunless tanners, and they could very well be harmful for your skin."

DHA was permanently added to the list of approved cosmetic ingredient in the 1970’s by the United States Food and Drug Administration, the Canadian Health Ministry, and most of the EU member nations. Dihydrozyacetone is the main ingredient in all sunless tanning products with concentrations ranging from 1% to 15%. Most products offer self-tanning formulation ranges from light to dark, the higher the percentage the darker the tan. I recommend starting off with lighter formulation as the darker products can produce an uneven look to your tan.

DHA-based sunless tanning has been recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation, American Academy of Dermatology Association, Canadian Dermatology Association and the American Medical Association. Those are pretty darn good recommendations!

Make sure you check out all the additional information about self-tanning products, there proper use and precautions at:

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