Dihydroxyacetone is a common ingredient in self-tanning lotions and creams. It’s made from plant sources including sugar beets and sugar cane, as well as glycerin fermentation.


What is Dihydroxyacetone?

Dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a sunless tanner, is the most popular approach for achieving a tanned appearance without sun exposure because it poses less health hazards than any other method. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved it as the only active ingredient for sunless tanning thus far.

DHA concentrations can range from 2.5 to 10% or more (mostly 3-5 percent ). This may correspond to product lines that list light, medium, and dark tones. For new users, a product with a lower concentration (lighter shade) may be preferable because it is more tolerant of uneven application or rough surfaces.


How does dihydroxyacetone work?

DHA is found in all effective sunless tanners. DHA is a colorless 3-carbon sugar that, when applied to the skin, induces a chemical reaction with amino acids in the skin’s surface cells, darkening the skin. DHA does not harm the skin because it only affects the epidermis’ outermost cells (stratum corneum).

Within an hour of application, a color shift is frequently visible. Maximum darkening can take anywhere from 8 to 24 hours to appear. If a darker color is required, apply numerous times over the course of a few hours.

DHA produces an artificial tan that lasts until the dead skin cells rub off, which is normally 5-7 days with a single application. The same color can be maintained with repeat applications every 1 to 4 days, depending on the region.

Risks and side effects of dihydroxyacetone

There are very minimal risks with using dihydroxyacetone on skin. This is because the stratum corneum reacts swiftly to DHA, limiting systemic absorption. DHA-induced contact dermatitis is a rare occurrence. Other substances in the recipe, such as preservatives, are the most common causes of sensitivity.

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