Greg Kessler

Stop! Read This Before Using Self-Tanner

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Everyone is aware that sun exposure is incredibly harmful to your health, but did you know that self-tanners, while providing a great glow, are often stocked with harmful chemicals? Before going faux, may we suggest the organic tan? Touting great color with loads of skin-enhancing benefits like antioxidants and natural moisturizers, its a no-brainer. Find out why.

Photo: Courtesy of Tommy Hilfiger

Why Organic?

It all comes down to the ingredients that you are putting on your skin and in the case of spray tans, inhaling. Conventional self-tanners can include all combination of toxins such as parabens (chemical preservatives that have been shown to enter the bloodstream after application), alcohol (which dries the skin and causes a streaky color), and even formaldehyde (embalming fluid)!

Meanwhile, in the organic camp, the ingredients are plant-derived and non-toxic, with many, like essential oils, actually nourishing your skin. They are also highly customizable, so even if you have naturally dark skin, there are options for you. More on DHA on the next slide.

DHA, which stands for Dihdroxyacetone, reacts with amino acids on the skin to temporarily turn it a darker color, giving you your week-long tan. Synthetic DHA is chemical-laden and smells iffy.

Plant-derived DHA is made from fruit or vegetable sugar. Lavish Tan based in Los Angeles has created a patent-pending formula of apple sugar-based DHA which gives an even more golden brown than the carrot or beet sugar-based formulas used in other organic tanners. We can also attest that it does not smell iffy.

Now that we've convinced you that organic is the way to go (generally good to avoid splashing harmful chemcials all over one's body, no?) here are a few tips to ensure you have a seamless experience.

First, make sure to shave and exfoliate thoroughly before you apply self-tanner. As with anything cosmetic, a good foundation is key. This charcoal towel is great for removing impurities and sloughing off dead skin, as it this St. Ives favorite.

Next, after your spray/lotion/gel has dried as much as possible, put on loose-fitting black clothing and wait a few hours before showering. With organic formulas any paraben-laden lotions can damage your tan. Its best to use an organic face and body lotion like this version from The Honest Company at night and an organic SPF during the day. Avoid all spray-on sunscreens.

Organic spray tans are offered nationwide, but if you'd rather try one in the comfort of your own home, here are some excellent organic options that we recommend.