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

Your bathroom medicine cabinet, expired medications

Do you know what is in your medicine cabinet?

A clean and orderly home is something that most of us want for ourselves and our family. This is no less true for the smallest room in the house – our bathrooms. The average time spent in the bathroom daily is about 30 minutes. Usually the smallest room in the house, it is sometimes neglected when it comes to style and d├ęcor. After all, bathrooms serve a utilitarian purpose, don’t they?

Our Medicine Cabinets

The same thing can be said for our medicine cabinets. We may maintain an immaculate home, but our medicine cabinets often become cluttered by items that have long since expired. When it comes to prescription and over the counter medications, it can mean that those medications won’t work as effectively as they should. The same can be said for more natural products like essential oils or saline nasal sprays. While the U.S. Food & Drug Administration does not require that non-drug products use expiration dates, many include them. Once past an expiration date, a product’s volatile oils and/or active ingredients may not be as effective. If you can’t remember when you purchased a product or if it smells or looks “off”, the safest thing to do is to toss it.

The same principal applies to personal care products like creams, lotions, balms, cosmetics, etc. Most products lose their potency after 36 months, but there are other considerations, especially if products are marketed as “natural”. These generally don’t stay potent for more than 24 months. Most cosmetics should be tossed after 6 months due to the danger of contamination. If you like to recycle containers, it’s best to stick with glass or aluminum jars. Plastic containers are difficult to sterilize. Otherwise, most can be taken to your local recycling center. For more information, visit the Natural Society’s Guide to Plastic Recycling

Expired Drugs and Proper Disposal

When it comes to prescription and over the counter drugs, proper disposal is important. Drugs should not merely be flushed down the toilet or put in the trash, for environmental and safety reasons. The Drug Enforcement Administration, in an effort to help reduce the danger of illegal use of prescription drugs, began National Drug Take Back Day. Held in October, information is provided to local law enforcement agencies that can help residents dispose of their medications safely. There are also MedReturn Drug collection locations across the country where you can take your expired drugs for safe disposal. You can find more information at http://medreturn.com.

Create a Clean-out Schedule

Cleaning out your medicine cabinet should be performed twice a year. You can attach this task to specific times of the year like Daylight Savings, July 4th or New Year’s Day can make it easier to remember. Remembering to do it when you check the batteries in your smoke detectors is another option. People who are ready to take control of all that they can by developing systems that make tasks easier can be difficult for some. However, if you are able to do so, you’ll find that you have more time to enjoy friends and family, and that small tasks will not turn into big ones later on.

Reference: Bathroom habits survey

Credit: Deidre Dolan Nesline, Founder of DeClutter by Deidre
DeClutter By Deirdre is committed to assisting people and their families who struggle with de-cluttering their homes so that they can enjoy a more stress-free life. To learn more visit their website at declutterbydeirdre.com