We’ve all heard that exposing ourselves to harmful UVA and UVB rays are to be avoided, meaning copious amounts of sunscreen, umbrella’s, hats and clothing. So how are you supposed to get that gorgeous, sun-kissed glow that brightens us up, inside and out?
First thoughts for me are always: sunless-tanners!
I’ve used sunless tanners over the years, gradually moving away from tanning beds (as a teen Shudder) to spray tans (not ideal) and finally to sunless tanners.
I felt I had done my due diligence and purchased from clean, organic, cruelty-free companies. I use self-tanner’s sparingly, but even living in Orange County, getting a ‘glow’ involves lots of time in the sun and I am working hard to not have skin cancer after lots of bad choices growing up.
Then, we get to this blog.
And I research the ‘clean’ companies that I’ve used in the past, to find I’ve been making allll the wrong decisions.
So now YOU get to reap the benefits of this research, and hopefully find an option that keeps you safe, gives you a healthy glow and doesn’t break the bank!
Realistically, anything that is changing the actual color of your skin is most likely full of toxic chemicals, artificial fragrances, preservatives like parabens, mineral oils and more.
The big criminal I want you to watch out for is Dihydroxyacetone, or DHA. This is the most common active ingredient in most self-tanners, even the ones claiming to be ‘clean’.
DHA is a sugar molecule that comes from plants and reacts with the amino acids on the outermost layer of your skin.
In 2012, a report from ABC News came out stating that DHA has the ability to damage human DNA and cause a wide variety of health issues in humans. This is because DHA has the ability to penetrate the deeper layers of your skin, the epidermis, and dermis. In fact, it was found that 11% of DHA penetrates into these layers of skin and then can go into the bloodstream.
Even if only a small amount makes it into the human bloodstream, it can still have potential health consequences like the development of certain cancers. More recent studies suggest that when DHA penetrates the dermis and epidermis it can actually interfere with your DNA and increase your exposure to free-radical damage.
Please note: it’s practically impossible to find a 100% clean and natural self-tanner. A compromise has to be made to achieve a glow rather than a drastic change in your skin’s chemistry through cocoa powder or natural mineral bronzers.
Also look out for these toxic and harmful ingredients commonly found in self-tanning lotions, sprays, wipes, etc.:
- Mineral oil – “a derivative of petroleum, it can be carcinogenic, is comedogenic (blocks your pores). It’s used because it’s a cheap carrier, creates slip and assists with spreadability.”
- Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate – “ this masquerades as a ‘natural preservative’ and in high concentrations is a skin and eye irritant. It’s also been found to contain formaldehyde (added during processing) and may break down into formaldehyde once it has permeated the skin.”
- Amyl acetate – “an ingredient used in the dry cleaning business.”
- Octyl stearate – “an irritant and also comedogenic (blocks pores).”
- Isopropyl Myristate– “also comedogenic and may bind to nitrates in the body… nitrates are carcinogenic.”
What to Look for in a Natural Self-Tanner
- Steer clear of DHA
- Look for natural ingredients
- Limited ingredients (rather than a long list of non-pronounceable words)
The 4 Best Natural and Organic Self Tanners:
- Coola Organic Sunless Tan Luminizing Body Serum
- Vegetable DHA and long-lasting tan!
- The Chemistry Brand Glow Oil
- Chocolate Body Butter Natural Bronzing Lotion
- Moisturizing, but note that will wash off with any water!
- True Natural Self Tanner
- Uses naturally occurring sugars to create color