So after years of tanning minus the sun, and many self tanners later, you may still may be left wondering..."How exactly is that beautifully bronzed effect left on my skin?"

And the answer to that question, friends, is Dihydroxyacetone or DHA.

Just like a spaceship to the moon 🚀, there's a lot of science behind the magic of DHA.

So grab your lab coat that you may have left behind in high school, like we did, and come with us behind the science experiment, that is, self tanning👩‍🔬! 

Read on as we explain what the wonder and the mystery DHA.

So what the heck is DHA?

DHA or Di-hydroxy-acetone, to help with the pronunciation, is a naturally derived colourless sugar compound that is used in most sunless tanners. The DHA used in the Luna Bronze Range is 100% natural (as per EcoCert standards) and is derived from sugar beets or sugar cane.

Sugar cane that is used to help formulate the DHA in our products

How does DHA work to develop a tan?

The way that DHA works is that the enzymes in the DHA compound react with the amino acids in the surface cells of our skin, creating that bronzed effect.

The DHA will continue to react and create the tanned effect over a period of time. This can be as much as 24 hours after application, depending on the environment or how soon you shower after applying. This is why it is so important to wash your hands - even if you cannot see the colour at application, the DHA is there and will be creating the tanned look on your palms - which NO ONE wants!

You'll notice that we have a wide range of different sunless tanning products in our range that give noticeably different results. This is due to the amount of DHA found in each of our products. 

A lower concentration of DHA will result in a lighter tanned effect whereas a higher percentage of DHA will result in a deeper tan. Luna Bronze's lightest products in our range is our Glow Gradual Tanning Moisturiser and our Illume Face Tanning Mist with 2.5% DHA, with our deepest tan product being our Total Eclipse Tanning Mousse with 15% DHA in it.

To help find the best tanning product for you, you can refer to our journal article here

Amelia Singson showing her bronzy results using our Total Eclipse Tanning Mousse

DHA mythbusting...

DHA doesn't damage the skin's surface and does not penetrate further than the outermost cells of the epidermis. This is because of the molecular structure of Dihydroxyacetone being too large to penetrate any further than the outermost cells of the epidermis.

So, when you're in the shower, with a days old tan, and exfoliate the skin, you might notice the old, tanned skin coming off, and a new later of fresh skin should show. 

Yes, exactly like a snake that sheds its skin 🐍. 

Does DHA protect my skin from the sun?

What we want you to know about DHA, is that it definitely does not protect you from the sun! You still need to apply your regular SPF products to your face and body when going into the sun, along with your other forms of sun protection like a hat, sunglasses and a T-shirt.

So remember to slip, slop, slap 😎

Can you use DHA whilst pregnant or breast-feeding?

Whilst we do not believe that DHA will penetrate the outer cells of the epidermis, we always recommend checking in with a medical professional prior to using self tan while pregnant, if you have any questions!

If you're breastfeeding, you can either choose to:

  • not apply the tan around the breast, nipple or areola area (baby won't judge 👼🏼)
  • make sure you rinse the tan before breastfeeding your bebe

How can you get rid of DHA or old tan from the skin?

Exfoliating skincare ingredients like glycolic acid, alpha hydroxy acids (AHA's) and beta hydroxy acids (BHA's) will help with the removal of dead skin cells. This is great for any tanning preparation or tanning removal. Our Back to Base Body Exfoliant is a great option, as it's glycolic acid, papaya extracts and natural Jojoba beads noticeably exfoliate, polish and help to revitalise the skin.

So, we hope that this Luna Bronze science lesson helped you understand more about the sunless tanning experience! Remember...Self tanning doesn't have to be rocket science 🚀.

Jess Metni using our Back To Base Body Exfoliant and Exfoliating Glove