Designer Coco Channel started the sun tanning fad in the 1920s, and it remains popular even today in Western countries. Sun tanning is often associated with healthy and athletic bodies, but in reality, is a sign of a skin problem. With research indicating that overexposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun causes premature aging, eye ailments, and skin cancer, a variety of sunless tanning products have flooded the markets.
Tanning products include bronzers, tan accelerators, tanning pills, tanning promoters, face tanning water, and self-tanning lotions. Bronzers are available as powders, lotions, and gels.
They need to be applied on clean skin that has been patted dry, as make-up is applied. Most bronzers color the skin immediately, while others take about half an hour to give a bronzed look. The fake tan lasts until it is washed off with soap and water. If bronzers do not contain sunscreen, adequate sun-protection measures need to be taken after applying them, before venturing out during the day.
Tanning accelerators contain ingredients that are claimed to stimulate melanin production when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Melanin tans skin, naturally. However, these products have proved to be defective. Tanning pills are banned in the United States because they can cause blindness and be life-threatening.
Self-tanning lotions and sprays are the most effective and safest among sunless tanning products. The active ingredient in these products, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products should be applied immediately after showering and produce results within an hour of application.
The tan remains for about a week, after which reapplication becomes necessary. Although earlier tanning lotions often colored the skin bright orange, today's versions are much improved. In fact, tanning lotions are available in several shades to suit the needs of different complexions. Therefore, doctors recommend their use to people who are desperate for a tan.