What it is
Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) is derived sugar cane.
What it does
Dihydroxyacetone is often used in self-tanning products for its ability to impart a brownish colour to the skin. It works by reacting with the amino acid in the upper layers of the skin.
A 2007 study shows that sun exposure in the 24 hours following the application of a self-tanner containing this ingredient makes skin more susceptible to free-radical damage. So, to minimize this risk, always wear sunscreen and use an antioxidant moisturizer.
While topical application of the ingredient is safe as DHA only interacts with the upper layers of the skin, which are dead, there is no scientific data about the safety of spray tanning booths. This means that we don’t know for sure that they pose any healthy risk, but we don’t also know that they don’t. So, before using spray tanning booths, make sure that your eyes, lips and mouth are completely covered to prevent inhaling or ingesting the product.
Contact dermatitis caused by DHA is rare, but can occur.
(Sources: Spectrochim Acta A Mol Biomol Spectrosc. May 2008 and Paula’s Choice)
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