What is DHA in self tanner?

Date Posted:16 September 2018 

You may have seen DHA listed as an ingredient in self tanner and wondered what on earth it is. DHA stands for dihydroxyacetone and is the chemical in fake tan that is responsible for changing the colour of the skin.


Is DHA in fake tans harmful?

The question of whether or not DHA is harmful is not completely black and white. While the evidence is not entirely conclusive, there is research to suggest that DHA contained in commercial fake tans can cause genetic alterations and DNA damage. What does this mean? While using a commercial fake tanner may not necessarily do you any harm, there is a chance that the chemicals contained in the product may increase cancer risk. If you’re concerned about the DHA contained in your self tanner, it's always a good idea to check with the manufacturer about its origin and if it has been tested for carcinogenic properties. A good natural self tanner should be able to provide proof that the DHA contained in the product has been tested and shown no carcinogenic or mutagenic effects. 

The DHA used in Ecotan’s self tanning products has been scientifically tested specifically for carcinogenic and mutagenic effects and it has been found that it is negative for these effects. The DHA does not contain any of the CMR (Carcinogenic, Mutagenic and Toxic for Reproduction) substances, categories 1 - 2, in accordance with the annex I of the European Cosmetic Directive 67/548/EEC and its Amendments, which means that the European Cosmetic Directive has thoroughly investigated the long term and serious effects that DHA may exert on human health and they have concluded that it is safe for human use within specific limits. These limits are met by Ecotan products (e.g. external use only). In addition to the European Cosmetic Directive, the FDA in America have also approved DHA for cosmetic use and also consider this material to be non-toxic and non-carcinogenic.


What is DHA made of?

DHA can be made synthetically or derived from glycerine or plant sources such as sugar beets and sugar cane through a fermentation process. Most commercial fake tanners use DHA which has been produced synthetically in a lab and may potentially have a toxic effect on the body. Couple with this the numerous other chemicals and synthetic fragrances contained in commercial fake tans, and you have a chemical cocktail right there on your skin. Organic and natural fake tanners will not contain these nasty chemicals, and the DHA contained in the product is usually derived from natural plant sources. 

Eco Tan’s DHA is certified organic by a widely used and very popular European association called Eco Cert. To comply with this regulatory body, the raw materials and the manufacture process used must comply with strict rules. That is to say, this form of DHA is derived exclusively from renewable, Non GMO vegetable resources, does not contain pesticides, does not contain any of the 26 allergens substances listed in the European Cosmetic Directive (76/768/EC), is not animal origin and is not in contact with animal products during its manufacture. 


Who should use DHA free self tan?

While natural self tanners contain plant-derived, non-toxic DHA, if you have a DHA allergy these may still cause skin irritation. A DHA allergic reaction will usually present like hives on the skin; red, swollen and uncomfortable. In this instance, it is best to go for a DHA free fake tan. If you are prone to dry skin, a tan without DHA may be best for you.  As DHA tends to dry out the skin, using a DHA free self tanner will reduce the tight, dry skin feeling you can get after applying your usual fake tan, instead, helping to hydrate and protect the skin. That said, DHA free selt tanner can be used by everyone, whether or not you have an allergy. Just remember, DHA free tanners don't provide long term results and ususally wash off in the next shower. If unsure if DHA free self tanner is for you, we recommend you first try Aussie Bronze Vegan & DHA Free Instant Tan Sample Sachet.


Best instant fake tan

In our opinion, the best DHA free self tanner is the Aussie Bronze Vegan and DHA Free Instant Tan. While some DHA free self tanners can take a long time to develop completely (we’re taking between 1-3 days), the Aussie Bronze natural self tanner without DHA goes on instantly and simply washes off in the shower. If you always seem to have streaky lines from a developing self tanner, a good instant fake tan that washes off is a great alternative. If you want that instant tan but don’t want it to wash off, the Eco Tan Cacao Firming Self Tanning Mousse is a great option. While the Eco Tan products contain natural and non-toxic DHA, they are a good option for those without a DHA allergy that want a longer lasting instant sunless self tanner. For a more gradual application and a soft natural glow, the Eco Tan Invisible Tan is one of the best instant tanning lotions. Alternatively, try our new Wotnot Certified Organic Natural Golden Gradual Tanning Lotion. Made with certified organic camellia and Australian kakadu plum and with ant-aging properties, this natural beauty will leave you skin looking and feeling silky-smooth with flawless finish. Plus this tan is also Cosmos approved, toxic free, vegan and suitable for sensitive skin. This new natural fake tan has been tested and loved by the entire Sassy Organics team.




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