Self Tanner Dos and Don’ts

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Self tanner spray tan by professional

What is a self-tanner, and what are some Dos and Don’ts for their use?

A self-tanner is a cream or lotion containing chemicals that react with the skin’s surface to produce an artificial tan. They’ve been around for a long time, and no doubt most of us have tried one at least once. The FDA approved the use of the main ingredient, Dihydroxyacetone (or DHA), in the 1970s for use in self-tanners. Before this, people utilized the tannins found in tea leaves to stain the skin a darker color. Ugh!

Formulations have improved quite a bit since then. Unlike the products that made one look like a carrot, it’s now possible to have a fairly natural-looking tan (even tanning gradually) with the products on the market today.

Self Tanner Dos

There is the obvious reason for using a self-tanner: you avoid excess sun exposure which is known to damage the skin. One also gets instant gratification; instead of tanning for hours, an instant tan can be had with very little effort. For someone looking to look sunkissed for a special event, it is a quick and easy way to achieve the look without the risk of sunburn. Some self tanners also contain erythrulose, a carbohydrate that helps to produce a more natural-looking tan.

Self Tanner Don’ts

So what are the downsides to using a self-tanner? For one, some individuals may be sensitive to the main ingredient DHA. It has been shown to cause contact dermatitis in some individuals. More importantly, some studies have shown that sun exposure within 24 hours of applying DHA can cause free radical formation, thereby damaging skin cells. Therefore, it’s important for consumers to know that when using self-tanners containing this ingredient, they should avoid sun exposure for a period of time.

Many individuals also use tanning booths where the self-tanner is sprayed onto the skin. This increases the likelihood of inhaling DHA and other ingredients, which can have negative effects over time. Long-term effects of inhaling these ingredients is unknown. The dyes used in these products could also cause allergic reactions. In addition, many of the other ingredients found in self-tanners like fragrances and preservatives may also cause reactions in some individuals.

So can one find a self-tanner without DHA? Alternative ingredients are being developed for self-tanners that do not produce the same type chemical reaction. For example, the amino acid Tyrosine has been shown to possibly enhance melanin formation in the skin. Other ingredients like this include Vitamin D metabolite, retinoids, and Forskolin (derived from the Indian Coleus root). It may be some time before they are commonly available.

Alternatives to Self-Tanners

Another idea that involves zero commitment is to use cosmetics to create a temporary glow. Many cream and powder bronzers are available on the market that can be used on the face and body to provide some color. Ingredients used in cosmetics in the U.S. are regulated by the FDA. Even so, a patch test is always a good idea if your skin is particularly sensitive. Powders tend to have fewer ingredients than creams and lotions.

Regardless of which product you use, it’s always a good idea to obtain an ingredient list and to perform a patch test before using it all over. Read reviews and exercise caution when going out into the sun. With a little experimentation, you will be able to find the right self-tanner to give you the sunkissed glow you’re seeking.

References:
Wikipedia article on sunless tanning
Huffington Post article on self-tanners
Compound Interest article on the history of a fake tan

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When to throw out skincare and cosmetics

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When to throw out cosmetics

You may find yourself asking when you should throw out skincare and cosmetics that you may have been using for awhile. After all, not all products have expiration dates. Naturally-derived products, while more appealing to many, can be even more difficult to determine when it’s past its prime.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate cosmetics, which include most personal care products that we use today. Exceptions to this rule include products that function like drugs (e.g. sunscreens and acne medications). These types of products are regulated by the FDA and, as such, require expiration dates on their packaging. Once they expire, their effectiveness is not guaranteed, and they should be tossed.

Most other products do not require expiration dates, so it’s the consumer’s responsibility to track when a product was purchased, and when it’s no longer safe to use it. As a rule, products in tubes and pumps will maintain their integrity longer than products in jars. Products that come close to the eyes should also be thrown out sooner than other cosmetic products. Product composition is also important. Natural products with little or no preservatives should be refrigerated if they contain water, and will have a shorter lifespan than oil-based products. This is because products containing water are breeding grounds for bacteria and mold. Bacteria and mold, while they may be present, do not grow in oil-based products. However, you should not allow water to enter these products or they will go bad.

Regardless of what types of products are used, here are a few guidelines for knowing when to throw out your skincare and cosmetics products:

  • Mascara – 3 months
  • Liquid eyeliner – 3 months
  • Liquid foundation – 6 months
  • Cream formulas (water-based) – 6 months
  • Cream eye shadow – 6 months
  • Products in pumps – 1 year
  • Sunscreen – 6 months-1 year (after expiration date, not after opening)
  • Hair products – 1 year
  • Nail polish – 1-2 years (or when separation occurs)
  • Powders – 2 years
  • Pencil/powder eye shadow – 2 years
  • Lipstick/Lipgloss – 2 years

Regardless of the products used, it’s always a good idea to use common sense. If a product is causing redness or irritation, itching, or signs of infection on the skin, throw it out! Factors like high heat or dirty fingers can affect a product’s stability. Don’t use other people’s products. If you must use a lipstick or eye pencil, for example, use a knife or sharpener to remove the top layer first. After all, safety should be uppermost in our minds whenever we use a product on our skin. Huffington Post article on makeup expiration dates

In order to make this easier for our customers, we have created labels that can be used to mark the date for a product to be replaced. We will be sending them out with new orders for customers to test. Please let us know if you like the idea! You can visit us on Instagram or Facebook for a sneak-peek. We want to make using skincare as safe as it is uplifting.

References:
FDA regulations on cosmetics
Good Housekeeping magazine article on expired cosmetics

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