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How Does DHA Work?




The sunless tanning industry recognizes DHA (Dihydroxyacetone) as the colorless sugar that makes the magic happen in the self tanning process.  The active “tanning” ingredient DHA is a simple carbohydrate.  It’s often derived from plant sources such as sugar beets and sugar cane.  DHA reacts chemically with the amino acid groups, which are part of the protein containing keratin layer on the skin surface, forming a brown color to the skin.  This process is called the “Maillard Reaction.”  It’s very similar to the reaction that you see when you cut a potato or an apple slice and leave it exposed to the air.


DHA was first discovered by the Germans in the late 1920’s when DHA spilled on the skin, temporarily darkened the skin’s appearance.  In the 1970’s the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) added DHA permanently to their list of FDA approved cosmetic ingredients.  By the 1980’s new sunless tanning formulations appeared on the market; and refinements in the DHA manufacturing process created products that produced a more natural looking color and better fading.  


Once sprayed, the client will have an instant bronzed look produced by the bronzer in the solution (unless you’re using a clear solution without a bronzer), and the tan will develop over the next 8-24 hours.  After showering, it’s normal for the bronzer to wash away leaving the developed tan.  The developed tan can last up to 10 days.  This all depends on the skin type, DHA concentration, preparation to the skin prior to spray tan, and after care to the skin as well.  The tan gradually fades as the dead skin cells slough off, just as in a normal tan.


Different concentrations of DHA are offered and can range from 3% to 12%.  A lighter percentage of DHA would be recommended for fair skin, a medium percentage for medium skin tones, and a darker percentage for darker skin tones.     




Why Choose Us?

The Sunless Store has offered customers around the world the finest sunless tanning products since 2002. Please contact us today with any questions you may have.