How to Apply Sunless Tanners in 8 Steps

How to apply sunless tanners in 8 steps.

spray tan dublin

When I opened the door to my exam room the other day and greeted my teenage patient, she said, “Hi,” and gave me a little wave. I noticed her palm was burnt orange.

“Been eating a lot of carrots lately?” I joked.

“Self-tanner,” she replied, deadpan.

“Right,” I said.

I proceeded to tell her that I was happy she was choosing sunless tanner over actual tanning, especially since melanoma is soaring in young adults and that using an indoor tanning device can increase your risk for developing melanoma by 74% compared to non-users.

The safest tan is no tan, but I know that many teens and adults like the look of tanned skin. So, the next best option is sunless tanners. The “tan” from unless tanners comes from dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a coloring agent that binds to proteins on the skin’s surface, making it appear tanned. While rumors swirl about the dangers of tanning aerosols, there is no clear evidence that DHA, when applied topically and used as directed, is dangerous to humans. DHA does not penetrate the skin like UV rays; therefore, it is a safe alternative to actual tanning. It’s also the only agent approved for use by the FDA.

Despite it’s safety, it’s still a good idea to use aerosol self-tanners in a well-ventilated area since the effects of inhalation are still unknown. Self-tanning wipes are easily portable, but can go on streaky, while gels can cause drying, making the skin feel tight. Creams and lotions are the easiest to apply and are most popular. Self-tanners should always be used in conjunction with broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.

Here’s how to apply sunless tanners in 8 steps without looking like a carrot:

1. Exfoliate skin with a dry washcloth to slough off dead skin cells and smooth out skin’s surface.

2. Apply moisturizer and allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before applying your tanner. If your skin is at all greasy, gently dab it with a soft, dry cloth. Pay particular attention to elbows and knees, where the skin is thicker, as color deposited there can become more concentrated.

3. Wear latex gloves to avoid orange-stained palms like my patient’s. If you don’t like gloves, then apply Vaseline petroleum jelly on your fingernails and fingertips to avoid staining.

4. Apply in sections, such as legs, abdomen, back, arms, etc. It’ll reduce your chances of streaks and missed spots.

5. Blend well at joints including wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles for a natural look.

6. Dry and set. Wait 15 to 20 minutes for the tanner to set before getting dressed. Avoid sweating and washing for the next 3 hours.

7. Reapply as needed. Most sunless tanners last about 5 days. Be patient. It may take 2 to 3 applications to reach your desired color. Once you do, reapply about 3 times per week to maintain that shade.

8. Use sunscreen. Sunless tanners are NOT sun-protective. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 daily and re-apply every 4 hours, or more frequently, if sweating or playing water sports.

Do you have any questions about using self-tanners or any recommendations to share? Please let us know in the comment section below.

Photo credit: FCC, jaissus

Food Friday: Eat Chocolate for Sun Protection

Studies show that dark chocolate, high in flavonols, provide some protection against damaging UV rays.

Chocolat de Bonnat tasting

Planning a Caribbean get-away this winter? Don’t forget to pack some hot chocolate.

Several studies, including a well known one 2006 German researchers have shown that dark chocolate beverages high in flavonols (plant-based antioxidants), may have protective properties against damaging UV rays. In the study, they compared two groups of women. One drank flavonol-rich chocolate beverages  while the other drank a less potent chocolate beverage. When both groups were exposed to UV-light, those who drank the richer chocolate beverage suffered the least sunburn.

A 2009 study published in The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology similarly found that regular consumption of chocolate high in flavonols offered some protection against sun’s damaging rays.

What’s the sweet spot for protection? 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate was found to provide an SPF of 2 or 3. While that’s better than no protection, it certainly is not enough to adequately protect you from sun damage.

Since chocolate doesn’t list the amount of flavonoids it contains, look for brands with at least 70% cacoa. So, pack your broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF of 30 for optimum sun protection and toss a few dark chocolate bars like Ghiradelli’s Intense Dark Twilight Delight 72%, in your carry-on.

Photo credit: FCC, EverJean 


The Best Natural Remedy for Eczema

The number one all natural remedy to treat eczema.

Are you looking for a natural way to treat your eczema? In this video, I share my best natural remedy for eczema. Do you have natural remedies that help your eczema? If so, please share them with us in the comment section below or on my YouTube channel page.

How To Safely Treat Acne While Pregnant

Here’s how to safely treat acne when you’re pregnant.

Are acne medications safe for pregnant women? Not always. In this video, I explain the different categories of safety for acne medications and offers recommendations for safe, effective acne treatments for pregnant women.

Do you have questions about acne and pregnancy? Ask me in the comment section below, on my YouTube site, or on Twitter @Dermdoc.

Exercise Less, Lose More

A recent Danish study show that 30 minutes of daily exercise is better for weight loss than 60 min of daily exercise.


Still trying to shed those stubborn holiday pounds? You don’t have to starve yourself or run two hours a day to do so.

A recent Danish study published in The American Journal of Physiology showed that less exercise leads to more weight loss. Those who exercised 30 minutes daily for 3 months shed more weight than those who worked out 60 minutes daily. How can this be? Those who exercised less actually increased their activity level all day long, thereby burning more calories.

Take that, Christmas cookies.

Photo credit: FCC, Eleanza

Food Friday: Burn More Fat? Eat More Apples

A recent study from the University of Iowa found that ursolic acid, which is found in apple peels, is related to increased fat burning and reduced obesity.

Apple Planet

Don’t peel that apple.

A recent study from the University of Iowa found that a compound called ursolic acid which is found in apple peels, is related to increased fat burning. In the study, mice given ursolic acid built more muscle mass which led to increased metabolism and calories burned. They also had increased levels of brown fat which is a superior calorie burner. Researchers were pleased to find that the mice had reduced obesity, pre-diabetes, and fatty liver disease, all promising findings that could eventually lead to helping patients.

Photo credit: FCC, leoncillosabino

9 Surprising Health Benefits of Exercise

In addition to helping you lose weight, here are 9 surprising health benefits of exercise.

Zoom... (Explored 1st July # 10)

Yesterday, on New Year’s Day, millions of Americans resolved to begin exercising and lose weight in 2013. While exercise helps you burn calories and lose weight, it also has numerous other health benefits that will help you have a truly healthier, happier 2013.

Here are 9 surprising health benefits of exercise:

1. Sleep better. Regular exercise helps you sleep better, provided it’s not done within 2 to 3 hours of your bedtime. Exercise can also reduce and sometimes eliminate sleep apnea, a frustrating and potentially health-threatening sleep disorder that causes disruptions in breathing.

2. Reduce your risk for skin cancer. Studies show that regular exercise lowers your risk for skin cancer, including life-threatening melanoma.

3. Be happy. If you’ve heard of “runner’s high,” then you know that exercise makes people happy. That’s because exercise boosts mood-enhancing or feel-good endorphins.

4. Reduce heartburn. Studies show that regular exercise, especially less stressful aerobic types like swimming and walking, reduce the severity of acid reflux or heartburn. And reducing heartburn can also help you sleep better.

5. Improve your acne. Because regular exercise helps regulate blood sugar, it helps reduce inflammation which can improve acne. It also reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, which is an acne trigger.

6. Have more energy. Many studies show that exercise, even just a few times a week, boosts energy. And morning exercisers reap the biggest benefit. If you need some help learning how to exercise in the morning, check out this post on 5 Tips for Starting a Morning Exercise Routine.

7. Improve chronic pain. Losing weight is critical to improving chronic pain since the  more weight you carry, the more pressure and pain to your joints and bones you’ll experience. Exercise also reduces pain because it reduces inflammation.

8. Reduce your risk for Alzheimer’sA 2012 study from Rush University Medical Center showed that daily exercise significantly reduced your risk for Alzheimer’s, even if —get this— you start exercising after the age of 80.

9. Reduce your risk for psoriasisA 2012 study from Harvard Medical School showed that vigorous aerobic exercise and calisthenics are associated with a reduced risk of psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory skin condition.

While this isn’t a direct health benefit, regular exercise saves you money by reducing the  the number of medications and doctor’s visits you’ll need. And who wouldn’t like that?

Photo credit: FCC, Yogrenda174