Sunless Tanning

Sunless tanning is becoming very popular, there are two main reasons for this. Firstly having a good tan has become fashionable and desirable. A lot of people do not live in a place with constant sunshine and most of us cannot afford a holiday to the sun to top up our tans every month. This means that people are turning to the various methods of sunless tanning to achieve the desired result. The second reason is to do with health. It is common knowledge that regular exposure to the sun increases the risk of contracting skin cancer. Also the sun has an aging effect on skin, regular sun bathing can leave you looking older than you actually are. Sunless tanning can offer a safe way to get that bronzed look you were after without damaging your skin.

There are 4 main sunless tanning methods you can use:

1.Sunless Tanning Lotion - Sunless tanning lotions generally contain the bronzing ingredient dihydroxyacetone (DHA). This is a colourless sugar that interacts with dead skin cells causing a colour change to occur. The colour change usually lasts about 5 to 7 days from the initial application. This is a popular method of sunless tanning but it can be difficult to get an even tan.

2.Spray Tanning - The science of spray tanning is similar to tanning lotions, but the tanning solution is applied in a spray. This can either be done manually by a spray gun or automatically in a tanning booth. A new development in spray tanning is the colourless tanning solution. This solution does not contain bronzer and affords a less streaky, more even tan.

3.Tanning Beds - Tanning beds or sunbeds contain fluorescent tubes, these tubes tan the skin by emitting Ultraviolet (UV) Rays, the same type of radiation that is found in natural sunlight. These tanning beds are an effective sunless tanning method but frequent, long term usage can lead to skin cancer and skin aging.

4.Tanning Pills - Tanning pills come in three varieties: Those that contain caretenoid pigments, those that contain tyrosine and those with no active ingredients. Caretenoid pills contain a pigment which, when taken internally saturates the fat layers just below the skin, which appears to give the skin colour. These pills can change the colour of your skin but the results are often undesirable. The colouration can look unnatural and tends to be concentrated in fatty areas leaving an uneven effect. The other 2 types of tanning pill are not proven to have any effect on the colour of your skin.

Generally the best method of sunless tanning is the spray tan, or if you can not get to a tanning salon you can use a tanning lotion. There are a wide variety of sunless tanning products available so some experimentation may be necessary to find one which you are comfortable using and which works with your skin type. Tanning beds are effective but they have similar risks to conventional sunbathing. Tanning pills are best avoided unless you know exactly what they contain and what the effect will be on your skin.

For more information on sunless tanning please visit:

R.J. Heaney is the webmaster at, a useful resource on how to achieve the perfect sunless tan.