Sunless Tanners

Somer and I were both raised in Southern California -where baby oil and tinfoil used to encourage a tan was de rigueur. These days we know that besides the increased risk of skin cancer, exposure to UV rays definitely causes premature aging. So ladies – if you’re craving that golden glow; we suggest you opt for one of these self tanners.

But first, what are they? Most self tanners are made with DHA, dihydroxyacetone, a nontoxic simple sugar. As explained by Chemical and Engineering News this “Aruba in a Tuba” is a basic chemical reaction.

DHA, a three-carbon keto sugar is a physiologic product of the body formed and utilized during glycolysis–that quintessential metabolic process that we’ve all had to memorize at least once. DHA used in self-tanners is usually prepared by fermentation of glycerine by Acetobacter suboxydans.

As long as we’re making the healthier choice by using self tanners, here are a few paraben-free products that are promoted by various health-focused websites.

Alba Botanica’s sunless tanning lotion uses no parabens, artificial colors, animal-derived ingredients or animal testing. Besides DHA, the product contains erythrulose, which is derived from beets and has a similar action to DHA. Alba’s lotion base contains organic aloe, moisturizing shea butter and antioxidant-rich green tea.

Lavera’s Glow & Go Gradual Self Tanning Gel is a vegan product made with organic soy extracts, organic jojoba oil, calendula, aloe vera and rose water.

Zia Age-Defying Sunless Tanner  It looks like Zia has recently taken the parabens out of their sunless tanner. Much of the earlier information condemned the company for not being true to the “Natural” skincare tagline.  And, now that we mention it, the word natural has been taken off the label. So use with caution ;).



  1. charlie says:

    I’ve read that older women shouldn’t use these b/c they make “age spots” even more obvious. Is this true? Once they’re applied, is there anything that can remove the color besides time?

  2. charlie says:

    I’ve read that sunless tanners make mature skin look even older because it stains age spots, making them even more obvious. Is there anyway to prevent this or another product that can be used on the spots to make them less obvious?

  3. Hey Charlie – we’re looking into it – personally I have used all these products on my ‘mature’ 44-yr old -grew up in Hawaii, sun damaged skin –and they all did darken age spots a little -but it went away when once the tan went away — however I loved having a ‘tan’ (even if it was fake) so the benefits of feeling healthy and sun kissed far outweighed the darker age spots… but again I’ve sent some emails to dermos about this to get you a more official answer. thanks for asking!

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