Indoor tanning lotions, or “self-tanners”, are commonly used during the winter months when obtaining a natural tan is nearly impossible. Indoor tanning lotion may also be used by individuals that prefer to tan underneath the sun’s harmful rays or in a tanning bed. Indoor tanning lotions come in all strengths and scents. Some are formulated to give you a subtle looking tan, while others may result in a deeper, darker tan.
Indoor tanning lotions provide fair to good results without the use of the sun by utilizing a common ingredient called DHA. According to Howstuffworks.com and the American Academy of Dermatology, dihydroxyacetone (DHA) is the active ingredient in the most effective self tanners. DHA is a colorless sugar that interacts with the dead cells located in the stratum corneum of the epidermis. As the sugar interacts with the dead skin cells, a color change occurs. This change usually lasts about five to seven days from the initial application.
Indoor tanning lotions may smell like coconut, shea butter or other added fragrance. Some appear to work almost instantly, while others may take an hour or so to fully develop. If you are interested in tanning all over, it is important to read the ingredients carefully before application. In general, it is best to apply self tanner at night, before bed, and wear sunscreen during the day.
You should make sure the skin is clean and exfoliated before application. Do not apply indoor tanning lotion in a steamy room. If you do, you can get sweaty, which can cause streaking and spotty areas. You should moisturize areas such as your feet, ankles, knees, elbows, hands and wrists. Also, moisturize areas that might have any fine lines – usually the face and neck. You should begin the application process with the legs and work your way up. When you finally make it to your face and neck, use only a small amount, as these areas absorb the tanning lotion much faster.
Once the application process is complete, you must wait for the indoor tanning lotion to dry completely before putting on any clothes. You should also refrain from exercising, bathing, swimming, cleaning, or any activity that will cause you to sweat or get wet. You must refrain from activities such as these for at least an three hours. It’s probably a good idea, however, to wait at least eight hours before your next shower. If you want your indoor tan to last longer, after your next shower, apply a second coat.
If you are unsure about which self-tanners are the best, look no further than Coppertone products, Neutrogena, Bain de Soleil, Banana Boat, BeneFit, Au Courant and No-Ad. Indoor tanning lotions may be purchased at drugstores, beauty supply houses, grocery stores, sportswear retailers, superstores, outlet stores and stores that sell swimwear.