The main ingredient in self-tanners—DHA or “dihydroxyacetone”—is a chemicalized sugar that reacts with skin proteins to create brown or golden-brown compounds.
Where is the danger in DHA? Answer: In the other ingredients manufacturers include in tanners. Like in moisturizers, many self tanners contain parabens (toxic preservatives), 1,4 dioxane (by-product of manufacturing), and synthetic fragrances. These chemicals have all been linked with cancer, so it’s best to avoid them in products that you apply to your skin. While the DHA tanning ingredient may not penetrate below the top layer of the skin, other ingredients might.
Another ingredient to watch out for—oxybenzone. A chemical sunscreen, it’s included in some self tanning formulas to promote absorption of the lotion. However, laboratory studies have shown that it may contribute to cancer growth, and it’s also been connected to developmental and reproductive problems. In fact, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends that consumers avoid sunscreens with oxybenzone as it is a hormone-disrupting chemical readily absorbed by the skin.
Are there better alternatives that don’t use these dangerous ingredients? You bet. 100% Herbal Instant Tan is an all natural bronzing lotion which gives a great tanned look without the chemicals, parabens or other synthetic ingredients. It only uses edible ingredients so you know if it's ingestible, it's safe for the skin and body as a whole.