Why do you have to re-apply sunless tanning spray if you want to stay tanned?

Why doesn't effect of sunless tanning spray last for longer than it does? The answer lies in your skin.

Spray tanning solution is a cosmetic that effects only dead skin cells. It will do nothing to live skin cells, but it reacts with proteins in dead skin cells turning them brown.

If you would look at your skin under a strong microscope you will see that it is not smooth at all.

In fact it resembles a mountain range with the buildup of the dead skin cells.

If you apply sunless tanning spray solution to the skin with so much buildup, the tan will go on uneven with more solution absorbed into ridges, and when the skin exfoliates naturally the "peaks of the mountain range" will rub off first, and you will be left with a very uneven tan.

If however, you exfoliate your skin before the sunless tanning solution is applied, the "mountain peaks" on your skin get to be greatly reduced, and so the tan will go on evenly.

It will also take a while for the skin to build up the dead skin layer, and so the tan will last much longer than on an un-exfoliated skin.

But, eventually the dead skin cells will build up, and the skin will exfoliate naturally. When it gets a bit too patchy and beyond repair, that is the time when you exfoliate your whole body again and book yourself for another tan.

So, this is my version of how the tan works, but just in case you want more scientific explanation of how sunless tanning solution works, below is an explanation taken from article on http://home.howstuffworks.com/question639.htm which might give you a better idea.

Skin is made up of two main layers: the epidermis on the outside and the dermis on the inside. Whether you are talking about sun tanning or self-tanning, the epidermis is where the tanning effect takes place. The epidermis is also made up of layers. The deepest layer of the epidermis, called the stratum basale (basal layer), is affected during sun tanning. The stratum corneum (horny layer) is the outermost layer of the epidermis -- it is this layer that is affected by most sunless-tanning products.

There are several different kinds of sunless tanning products available today. People have been able to pour on a tan since 1960, when Coppertone® came out with the first sunless-tanning product -- QT® or Quick Tanning Lotion.

If you are old enough to remember this, then you are probably thinking of the incredibly orange hue this lotion produced. Since then, there have been several advancements made on the sunless-tanning front.

How does sunless tanning spray work?

These days, you can find tanning pills, sunless- or self-tanners and bronzers. You can smooth, swipe or spray on a light bronze glow or a deep, dark tan. Many of these products take 45 minutes to one hour to start taking effect, and once you factor in drying time, you could be looking at about three hours spent achieving that sun-free tan. _

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the most effective products available are sunless or self-tanning lotions that contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA) as the active ingredient.

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.

Every day, millions of dead skin cells are sloughed off or worn away from the surface of your skin. In fact, every 35 to 45 days, you have an entirely new epidermis. This is why tans from sunless or self-tanning lotions will gradually fade - as the dead cells are worn away, so is your tan. For this reason, most of these products suggest that you reapply the sunless- or self-tanner about every three days to maintain your "tan."

Although gels, lotions or sprays that contain DHA are said to be the most reliable and useful, there are dozens of other types of products on the market. Tanning accelerators -- lotions or pills that usually contain the amino acid tyrosine -- claim that they stimulate and increase melanin formation, thereby accelerating the tanning process. At this time, there is no scientific data available to support these claims.

Another sunless-tanning product is a tanning pill that contains canthaxanthin, which is most commonly used as a color additive in certain foods. Although the FDA has approved the use of canthaxanthin in food, it does not approve its use as a tanning agent. When used as a color additive, only very small amounts of canthaxanthin are necessary. As a tanning agent, however, much larger quantities are used. After canthaxanthin is consumed, it is deposited all over your body, including in your skin, which turns an orange-brown color. These types of tanning pills have been linked to various side effects, including hepatitis and canthaxanthin retinopathy, a condition in which yellow deposits form in the retina of the eye.

Another popular form of sunless tanning is the bronzer. These powders and moisturizers, once applied, create a tan that can easily be removed with soap and water. More like make-up, these products tint or stain your skin only until they are washed off.

It's important to remember that most of these products, unless they contain an added sunscreen, will not protect you from the sun's UVA and UVB rays. Even products that do contain a sunscreen won't be of much help, since they lose their efficacy within hours of application. So, if you're planning to head outside to show off your new glow, be sure to apply some extra sunscreen.


Sunless tanning spray is at the moment one of the most advance methods of tanning, and it looks like it will stay like that for a while, unless scientists find a way to either make sunless tanning spray penetrate deeper into the skin (hopefully without any side effects), or making the dead skin cells wear off at a slower rate.

I am not sure that I like any of those options because it probably would have some effect on health. In the long run, I want to be beautiful and healthy, even if it requires a bit more effort on my part so, for me, the way sunless tanning spray works right now is just fine.

Oh well, back to the spray tanning salon for a package....

If you would like to see effects of

sunless tanning spray solution click here and you can see before and after pictures.

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