How Do Tanning Lotions Work?

February 14, 2018

Tanning lotions can be the top choice for those who want to have perfect tanned skin. So, how does tanning lotion work? And if kinds of tanning lotions you have used are safe for your skin or not. In this article, we will discuss the way tanning lotions work in the skin.

The Main Ingredients In Tanning Lotions

To answer the question “how does tanning lotion work?”, we should learn more about the main ingredients in tanning lotions on the market nowadays.

Dihydroxyacetone (also known as DHA)

The most important active ingredient in any tanning lotion. According to Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, the best tanning lotions are the ones which have this active ingredient. Dihydroxyacetone is just a color additive which reacts with the amino acids on the skin surface, making it to darker. DHA acts well on the skin surface, especially in the epidermis. Tanning lotions often contain up to 15% DHA.


The important chemical also presents in tanning lotions. This ingredient usually works well in combination with DHA, boosting the performance of tanning lotions.


This is also an amino acid which is always found in all tanning lotions. The ingredient stimulates the formation of melanin, so it allows the tanning process to happen and take shape faster.

Also, many tanning lotions also contain some certain oils which help to absorb effectively ultraviolet rays. These oils boost the tanning process when they stimulate the production of melanin in the body. Melanin is known as the pigment primarily responsible for your tanned skin.

A perfect tanning lotion only works well if it is the excellent combination of all the above essential ingredients.

How Do Tanning Lotions Work?

Our skin has the important layer known as the epidermis. In this layer, numerous skins cells die daily, and they are still attached to your skin. So, “how do tanning lotion work?”  The above ingredients in a perfect tanning lotion act on these dead cells’ the amino acids to change the skin color by stimulating the production of melanin. By this way, the melanin content can increase the skin.

As we know that, the more the amount of melanin produced in the skin, the darker the skin color is. DHA, the most active ingredient in any tanning lotion, is only a colorless sugar which changes the color of dead skin cells, making skin darker and then becoming a tan. However, you should also remember DHA needs more time to promote its efficiency. DHA usually takes about 2 hours or even seven days for the tanning process.

Applying tanning lotion is one of the effective measures to help you have tanned skin. These tanning lotions with the above ingredients are a perfect choice. These ingredients do not block the effects of the UV rays while they still enhance the effects at the same time. By this way, the tanning lotions, in turn, help you get a darker skin faster. Moreover, unlike natural tanning options, the tanning lotions may clear the risk of skin burns.

5 Secrets Of Tanning Lotions You Should Know

The above information can help you enrich your knowledge of how tanning lotions work. Tanning lotions; thus, can be a fast and convenient method to tanning under the Sun. However, there are also a few caveats you should know.

Tanning lotions with DHA are non-toxic.Although there are some studies found that DHA in tanning lotions can be absorbed by skin tissue (around 11%), there is no evidence of DHA’s effect on human body.

In many studies, after applying tanning lotions, the sensitivity of your skin to ultraviolet light can increase slightly. According to a 2007 study, after applying tanning lotion for 24 hours, there is an increase in UV-induced free radicals (about 180%) in those with treated skin, which is higher than those with untreated skin.

Tanning lotions act on the dead skin cells only, so your artificial tanned skin may not stay on for extended periods. It is owing to the dead skin cells which stick on the epidermis on the skin are removed from 30 to 40 days. Therefore, you must keep applying the tanning lotions to keep the color of the skin.

Many people believed a tanned skin had been developed by tanning lotions, which will give your skin the artificial protection under the sunlight. However, naturally tanned skin is a result of the melanin production in the skin; the melanoidins developed by tanning lotions will never give you the same protection. According to many studies, a fake tan just gives an SPF of 3 – it is too low to protect your skin from the sun’s rays. As a result, you have a tanned skin after applying DHA; however, the skin still gets sunburned from the sun’s UV rays. You should apply sunscreen whenever you are under the sunlight for long periods to keep it from burning.

Although tanning lotions on the market can contain sunscreen components to prevent the growth of UV-induced free radicals, proper sunscreen should be used in combination with tanning lotions.

In conclusion, there is too much risk when applying tanning lotions. In this article, we help you understand more about “how do tanning lotion work?” and provide you with some information on the tan the tanning lotions generate cannot give you any protection under the sunlight. With the information on increased UV sensitivity, you should use your tanning lotions combined with sunscreen.

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