What is DHA? Discover the Golden Glow Ingredient - REMAKE

What is DHA? Discover the Golden Glow Ingredient

By now, we all know that the only safe tan is a fake one. But, as you foray deeper into the world of self tanners, you might be wondering… how exactly do these miracle-in-a-bottle products work to create such a gorgeous, golden glow? Well, they’ve all got one ingredient in common, and it’s the star of the show – the reason you can have your (UV exposure-free) cake and eat it too. Introducing DHA, more formally known as dihydroxyacetone. 

Dihydroxyacetone is present in almost all fake tanning products, and stands between you and an enviable tan that looks like you’ve been hitting the beach in a far-off, summery country – without the lifelong skin damage that particular scenario would bring. In this blog, we’ll be diving deep into DHA and uncovering everything you need to know about this wondrous ingredient, including what it is, where it is derived from, and how it works to ‘tan’ the skin.

What is DHA?

Also known as glycerone, dihydroxyacetone (DHA) is the primary ingredient in most self tanning products, including mousses, gradual tanners, and tanning waters, as well as professional spray tan products. DHA is a sugar that is naturally derived from plants such as sugarcane, or through the fermentation of glycerin, making it vegan and vegetarian-friendly in its simplest form. 

How does DHA work to tan the skin? 

When a product containing DHA is applied, this potent active ingredient reacts with the amino acids on the surface layer of our skin (also known as the epidermis). This creates melanoids, which are pigments in various shades of brown and yellow that give the appearance of tanned skin. 

So, when you apply fake tan, you’re not simply painting yourself in a layer of bronze goodness – you’re creating a chemical reaction (called the ‘Maillard reaction’ – yep, the same one that browns your meat when you cook it) between your product of choice and your skin to bring about that glow. This is why fake tans take a few hours to develop, and then, after they’re washed off, can last on the body for up to a week.

Anyone who’s fake tanned before also knows that no two tanning products are created equal, and this is in part due to the concentration of DHA that is present. Most self tanners found at beauty or skincare retailers contain between 1% and 5% DHA, which will vary based on how dark they purport to be. If you’re getting a profesh spray tan, it’s likely that the product being used on you has a much higher concentration of DHA – up to 15% or even 20% – which is why this kind of application tends to be darker and last longer. However, this is where things can get a little… well, orange. If the product you choose has too much DHA, you might notice that your skin resembles a Cheezel, at least for a couple of days. So, it’s important to find the right product or practitioner for you, and select a colour that makes you feel comfortable and your best, glowiest self. 

Once you’ve used a DHA-based tanning product on your skin, you’ll notice it gradually gets deeper and more pigmented over a 24-hour period, before it then starts to fade over the subsequent week. This is because your skin cells begin to shed themselves and exfoliate your fake tan off naturally. Once they’ve sloughed themselves off, they might need a little help from manual exfoliation in the shower before you apply any self tanner again. 

What are the benefits of DHA? 

DHA benefits lie predominantly in the fact that self tanners are the only safe way to tan. UV rays from the sun or ‘sunless’ tanning beds are incredibly harmful, not only from a health perspective, but to the appearance of your skin over time. If you’re looking to avoid the physical signs of ageing as best as possible, then fake tanning products of all varieties are the way to go, paired with a healthy dose of sun safety through sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and more. 

Is DHA safe, and are there any side effects? 

DHA is incredibly safe, especially compared to the alternative of sun exposure. Once applied, it rests on the skin’s epidermis and is not absorbed into the deeper layers, which means it’s perfectly non-toxic. DHA has been approved for use in tanning products in most parts of the world for decades, and has safely been used without any adverse reactions. 

The only side effects you might expect from incorporating a DHA-based product into your routine are mild reactions, the same way you could potentially face some irritation from a new moisturiser, serum, or cleanser. Like all products, be sure to patch test a small amount on your hand before applying to the entire face or body to determine whether you have any sensitivities. 

How do you tan with DHA? 

Ready to get your glow on? Encourage a beautiful, sunkissed look (without the sun damage) with Remake’s Fruity Reboot-y Facial Tanning Water. Designed to add a bronzed glow to your face in a simple, all-natural way, this product contains natural, vegan DHA paired with juicy and soothing watermelon extract. The result is facial tanning water that also serves as skincare, hydrating the skin and protecting it from free radical damage – all while you look like you’ve just returned from a holiday in sunny paradise. 

Remake is skincare, simplified. Buy Fruity Reboot-y Facial Tanning Water today, and discover our full range of low-fuss, high-reward products for the modern skincare lover.