• hopeesthetics


Learn About Spray Tanning! How it works, the history of the spray tan and Frequently asked questions!


Spray tanning involves applying an active ingredient, DHA or dihydroxyacetone, to your skin using a low pressure spray tan machine. DHA is a sunless tanning agent and the most popular way of achieving a natural looking tan without being exposed to the harmful UV rays of the Sun and is approved by the FDA for sunless tanning.

DHA is a simple carbohydrate which is often derived from plant sources such as sugar cane, also known as fructose, which is then taken through a series of untraceable synthetic processing. It causes a non-toxic chemical reaction with the amino acid groups, which are part of the keratin protein present in the outer most layers of the skin.

Various amino acids react differently to DHA, producing different tones of coloration from yellow to brown. The resulting pigments are called melanoids. These are similar in coloration to melanin, the natural brown substance found in the deeper skin layers after UV exposure, which leads to a delayed development of a natural tan.

The depth of the tan will depend on the % strength of the DHA contained within the product. Overall depth and intensity of tan achieved will also depend on the consumers own natural melanin content and thickness of the skins stratum corneum.

Where the stratum corneum is thicker, elbows, knees for example, the reaction and tan is more intense, where the layer is thin, the face for example, the tan is less intense.

In order to achieve a uniform result you must remove dead skin before applying DHA.

The artificial tan immediately appears and will continue to darken over 24 hours depending on the formulation. Once the darkening effect has occurred, the tan becomes waterproof and will not wash away with soap or water. It will fade gradually over 5 to 10 days, in conjunction with the skins normal exfoliation process.

Exfoliation, prolonged water submersion, or heavy perspiration can lighten the tan, as these all contribute to rapid dead skin cell exfoliation.

Another important factor in achieving a tan is the pH levels of the skin and formulation. An alkaline pH causes the tan to look orange, whereas a slightly acidic pH reduces this color problem. A surplus of water in any formulation can hinder the tanning reaction; there is optimum water content for each of the formulation and skin required to achieve best results. A balanced formulation understands the importance of maintaining moisture in the skin, the correct pH balance and the odor reaction of protein and DHA. Every one of our products are scientifically proven to work with all of the above mentioned factors, developing a deeper, longer lasting and odorless tanning result.


Where it all began

Fashion and tanning have a long rich history and heritage. Coco Chanel was a fashion innovator with the iconic Chanel suit and little black dress but also gave birth to a new trend in the form of tanning. In 1923, when Coco arrived back from Paris from a cruise in Cannes with a deep tan it become a new symbol, which signified health, wealth and decadent subversive style.

Time passed, and in the fifties saw the very first bikinis, and the “all over” tan became even more popular. Women all over the world ‘baked’ in the sun to get the all over bronzed look.

In 1957, the tanning properties of DHA were discovered in a children’s hospital.

DHA was first used as an active ingredient during research on the treatment of diabetics, some of whom tolerated DHA better than glucose. DHA was also administered orally as a treatment of a childhood glycogen-storage disease. When doctors noticed that when children spilled the DHA mixture on their skin, brown coloured spots would appear. One of the female doctors experimented by rubbing the mixture on her skin, and discovered ‘the browning action’ of fake tan.

The 1960’s brought the introduction of the first ‘Fake Tan’. Used with or without the sun, when it was introduced to the market, the ‘orange’ effect caused by the first products left a negative effect on the market. Since then, DHA’s physiochemical properties, tanning mechanics and skin tolerance have been explored, resulting in an improved method of application, a more natural looking tan, making orange body’s generally a thing of the past.

Present day production of DHA still relies on fermentation, as it did in the late 1800’s.

Recent years where the effects of the sun have proven to be damaging to the skin, Sunless, Fake Tan, Self Tan and Spray Tanning products have exploded as the safest alternative to achieve an all over bronze tan.


Addressing concerns around spray tanning

In recent media news, several questions have been asked by the media with the over-all safety concerns with spray tanning and the use of DHA.

The most current and informative scientific study available to the tanning industry on spray tanning was performed by the European Commission’s Safety Commission on Consumer Safety (EC SCCS). This concluded that Spray Tan was indeed safe – although should not be heavily inhaled or ingested.

The FDA has also set out recommendations, not mandates, that we fully support and endorse. When spraying DHA tanning solutions, either by handheld system or through automatic spray booths, the following precautions are suggested:

  • Use of Protective Undergarments

  • Use of Nose Filters

  • Use of Protective Eye Shields

  • Use of Lip Balm


YES. It is MUCH safer than exposing your skin to the sun’s rays, and you still get that great tanned look. DHA has been approved by the FDA for use in the personal care industry for over 30 years. No adverse affects have been reported other than minor skin irritations on allergic people. Allergic reactions are extremely rare and if you have experienced allergic reactions to self-tanning or other beauty products please arrange a skin patch test first with your therapist.


Anyone who is allergic to self-tan or who has breathing difficulties. If in doubt or if you have further questions, please speak to your therapist or consult your doctor before your appointment. Although considered mostly safe in a well-ventilated area and wearing a face mask or nose plugs, it is recommended women who are pregnant should always consult their doctor if they want a spray tan.


There are different strengths of DHA and your therapist will advise you of the best one for your skin tone, bearing in mind how dark you want to go. The darker you tan naturally, the darker you will tan with a spray tan. We recommend leaving your spray tan on for 1 – 4 hours before you lightly shower. Do not exceed more than 8 hours before your first shower.

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