Are Sunless Tanners Safe? The Facts Might Scare You!

28th February, 2013 - Posted by Victoria Girard - 20 Comments

Self tanning spray and tubes

We all know how risky it is to expose our skin to the sun and the damage it can cause to your complexion. If fact it is the number one cause to premature aging. So what’s a girl to do to get a beautiful golden glow without exposing it to the sun? Well, a sunless tanner sounds like a great option doesn’t it? Wrong!

The primary ingredient in most sunless tanners that creates that beautiful golden effect is called dihydroxyacetone (DHA.) Did you catch the tail end of that word; acetone? Yes you read that correctly, acetone (a toxic nail polish remover) and get this; dihydroxyacetone is actually a cousin to this toxic ingredient. Scary isn’t it?!

When you use a sunless tanner that contains DHA (it’s hard to find one that doesn’t) it oxidizes and injects the top layer of your skin with a golden brown color that sheds off in 5-6 days. Sounds pretty harmless doesn’t it?

Well, here’s the unfortunate catch. DHA actually generates free radicals when exposed to the sun. Free radicals are unstable molecules that steal from healthy ones in hopes of becoming stable but in the process create a damaging chain reaction that accelerates the aging process. One study revealed that skin treated with DHA for forty minutes had 180% additional free radicals; YIKES!

I have to say that I was more than disappointed to discover this news. I have been an avid fan and user of sunless tanning products, but knowing that DHA actually produces free radicals and accelerates aging I have decided to forego this ingredient. The thing is though; I am not willing to forego the golden glow.

After some serious research I stumbled upon a completely natural, safe, and unique way to make your own sunless tanner. It’s so easy you won’t believe it!

DIY Sunless Tanner

Cocoa            Mara Kesh Argan Oil


  • Unsweetened baking cocoa
  • Your favorite lotion, cream, or botanical oil

Put a small amount of your lotion, cream, or oil in a small bowl and add a little bit of cocoa. Mix it well until it’s completely free from any lumps or bumps. You will need to experiment with the amount of cocoa until you find a shade that is just right for you.

It will look much darker in the bowl so don’t let it frighten you from trying it on your skin. Once you apply it to your skin and blend it in the color greatly softens.

I have taken my favorite oils, argan oil and rosehip seed oil, and mixed them with a small amount of cocoa in the palm of my hand and then applied the mixture to my face giving it a beautiful soft brown/golden glow. Give yourself plenty of time for it to absorb and dry completely before applying makeup.

Not only is it a beautifully natural, safe, and effective way to give yourself a tan, but cocoa is actually loaded with antioxidants that fight free radicals and you will smell like a delicious brownie.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes Smile