Three products for a radiant, customizable tan — without UV rays

Three products for a radiant, customizable tan — without UV rays

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Mode de fonctionnement du dihydroxyacétone (DHA)

How Does Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) Work in Self Tanner?

DHA is the molecule present in most self-tanning products. It allows you to have a sun-kissed complexion without exposing yourself to the sun. But is self tanner bad for you? Focus on properties, functions, and possible side effects of self-tanning products containing dihydroxyacetone.

What Is Dihydroxyacetone (DHA)?

DHA is currently the main active ingredient in self-tanning products. Chemically, it is a sugar, and more precisely a carbohydrate monomer with a molecular weight of 90.08 g/mol. This molecule is soluble in water and ethanol but insoluble in oil and can be of synthetic or vegetable origin. Dihydroxyacetone of natural origin is generally produced by a biotechnological process involving the fermentation and bacterial bioconversion of glycerol extracted from beet roots.

In the 1960s, DHA self tanner was not appreciated because of the unnatural orange tint it left on the skin. It did not become popular until the 1980s because when combined with erythrulose, it gave a much more even and natural-looking tan. Erythrulose is also a compound obtained through biotechnology. This natural sugar is present in the cells of plants, such as raspberries or beets.

How does DHA work?

When applied to the skin, this tanning agent reacts with the amine functions carried by the amino acids present in the dead cells of the stratum corneum to form pigments, the melanoidins. The skin's browning effect results from this reaction, called the Maillard reaction.


The pigmentation of the skin appears within 2 to 6 hours after the application of the self-tanning treatment. However, this color gradually fades and disappears completely in 5 to 7 days. This phenomenon is explained by the frequent renewal of the horny layer (natural process of desquamation). Thus, this method of tanning without exposure to the sun does not cause the production of melanin and therefore has no protective effect against UV radiation. Self-tanning does not mean sun protection! Always remember to protect your skin with a broad-spectrum sunscreen to avoid the harmful effects of UV rays.

Our DHA Self-Tanning Serum.

Our self-tanning serum containing 10% DHA and carob pulp extract enhances the complexion as early as 12 hours after the first application for a gradual effect. The carob pulp present in the serum allows the healthy glow effect to last longer. Unlike chemical self-tanners, Typology's self-tanning serum does not provide an artificial orange color.

Are There Any DHA Tanning Side Effects?

So, is self tanner bad for you? 

In self-tanning products, Dihydroxyacetone is regulated at a maximum concentration of 10%.

The Scientific Committee on Consumer 

Safety (SCCS) has stated that DHA in 

self-tanning products does not pose a 

health risk to consumers at a 

maximum concentration of 10%. 

In addition, no scientific study has proven that DHA penetrates the skin's protective barriers. It is not contraindicated for pregnant women.

On the other hand, a self-tanning product containing dihydroxyacetone can have side effects like irritation if applied to sensitive parts of the body. For this reason, all parts of the body covered with mucous membranes should be free of self-tanner. Furthermore, inhalation and ingestion of this type of care is not recommended and related with important side effects, as it can cause asthma as well as DNA damage and cancer risks.

In addition, the ingredient can dry out the skin and increase its sensitivity to the sun. Note that this characteristic is often counterbalanced in DHA self tanner formulas by the presence of humectants such as glycerin and sugar derivatives. To combat this potentially drying effect, make sure you moisturize your skin daily, morning and night, both on your face and body. The 9-ingredient face moisturizer is enriched with hyaluronic acid and coconut oil. It is a minimalist formula that moisturizes and nourishes the epidermis. Its light and non-greasy texture is suitable for dry, normal and combination skin, even sensitive skin. For the body, choose the 10-ingredient moisturizing body cream, which moisturizes all skin types, even sensitive.

Sources :

  • KOCHEVAR I. E. & al. Factors influencing sunless tanning with dihydroxyacetone. British Journal of Dermatology (2003).

  • Opinion on dihydroxyacetone. Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (2010).

  • CIRIMINNA R. & al. Dihydroxyacetone: An updated insight into an important bioproduct. ChemistryOpen (2018).

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