WHAT MAKES A GOOD TANNING SOLUTION?
You might think… How can I trust this article when it is written by the company selling their own brand… Believe it or not… We are here to try our best not to promote our brand, but to give you a no non-sense summary of what parts of tanning solution are ‘fluff’ and what ingredients actually affect the end result.
With this basic knowledge, we hope you will gain a better understanding of how a tanning solution is ‘constructed’ and with this information you will be able to ask other companies the right questions to see how they stack up to the gold standard solutions which all companies will claim to be a part of.
We will break down the category of ingredients into 4 parts… Essential, Important, ‘Promotional Fluff’ & Perfumes.
1. DHA (Dihydroxyacetone):
The main ingredient in ALL tanning solutions and normally ranges between 8 – 14% in concentration.
All tanning companies profess to use the best DHA available, however DHA will be 99.7 – 99.9% pure from all sources… So the purity should not be a consideration.
The concentration (ie. 8 – 14%) is of interest if DHA is the only active ingredient used, as you can compare a DHA only solution with another DHA only solution.
Noteworthy tanning solutions will use 2 active ingredients, so you cannot effectively compare DHA concentrations in these as you need to also consider the concentration of the 2nd active ingredient (which makes comparison difficult).
Getting both concentration values from the manufacturers is also difficult as most will keep their compositions a closely guarded secret (as we do at ROXTAN)… But never fear, you should be asking what strength they recommend should be used on your skin type (ie. Fair / Average / Olive Complexion), as they will be the most experienced users of the solutions and will give you the best guide as to what you should be using.
* As a note, ROXTAN use Light / Medium / Dark which compares
to Fair / ‘Normal’ / Olive Tone skin complexion.
# You may see ‘ Chocolate ‘ and ‘ Caramel ‘ type descriptions relating to strength with other brands… You will need to ask what promotional / trade name they use is best suited to the skin type you are targeting before purchase.
The lesser known active ingredient which is used in higher quality solutions and is not used in many solutions due to the very high cost compared to DHA.
Erythrulose ranges from 0.1% to 4% in solution and is a MUST have ingredient due to its improved development properties over DHA.
Erythrulose is one of the most important ingredients working with DHA, as without it… you are just relying on the action of DHA only to give you a sufficiently dark tan.
DHA has a threshold as to how dark your skin will be able to go… With Erythrulose added, you will be able to go Darker without ‘throwing’ or appearing to have an ‘orange’ undertone.
Erythrulose develops slowly over 48 hours and also fades after DHA so you will get a gradual fade rather than a sudden disappearance of the tan which lends itself to a patchy fade away and an embarrassing end to your tan.
Some brands will cheat and mention the use Erythrulose in their solutions, however due to the high cost of Erythrulose over DHA, it is commonly used in very small concentrations (1% or less) which enable them to promote the use of Erythrulose, however you won’t actually reap the benefits when using these particular solutions.
3. IMPORTANT INGREDIENTS:
As nasty as this word may sound… solvents are important components of any cosmetic solution as it not only dissolves and supports the active ingredients in solution evenly, but works to safely loosen and dissolve the excess oils on the skin to enable a clear pathway for the active ingredients to reach the uppermost, dead surface skin cells… which is where the solution will absorb and develop the resultant tan.
Propylene Glycol is the most basic but most commonly used
solvent due to it being a low cost way of improving the absorption properties
of a tanning solution.
The gold standard solvents used today however are Pentylene Glycol and to a lesser extent Butylene Glycol.
Pentylene Glycol is touted as the best in this class due to its properties to not only act a solvent, but also reduce the smell of the developing tan on your skin.
It also has secondary anti-microbial properties which enable manufacturers to reduce the amount of preservative used (which is a good thing).
2. ADVANCED DELIVERY SOLVENTS
Dimethyl Isosorbide ‘DMI’
DMI is a naturally derived sugar based solvent which works in a similar way as the Glycols above.
However this particular solvent was developed specifically for the tanning industry and works again to temporarily dissolve the loose fats upon application of the tanning solution.
This enables a rapid active ingredient delivery and is what gives the 2 Hour Tan its quick and effective absorption properties. (* the skin regenerates this natural oil after application and more so after showering).
Without this type of ingredient, you will find your quick acting tans (1 or 2 Hour Tans) will not be Dark enough, or a lot of solution needs to be applied to gain a sufficiently Dark result.
The negative side effects of this are…
1. Solution Wastage (and increased costs for you)
2. A heavily ‘coated’ customer with long drying times after
3. A ‘sticky’ wait until they can wash the application off.
PROMOTIONAL INGREDIENTS (LEAST IMPORTANT)
These ingredients are usually at the end of the ingredients list and are used at extremely low concentrations, but exist purely for the promotional edge or marketing campaign.
Examples of these types are…
Skin Toners / Tighteners:
Caffeine, Aloe Vera (which can actually hamper the effectiveness of the solution), Vitamins, Amino Acids.
Herbs / Extracts:
Pomegranate, Ginseng, Green Tea, Grape Leaf, etc. etc…
* ROXTAN are by no means immune to this marketing practise, however it is important to note that these ingredients are the LEAST important qualities you should be looking for when selecting a suitable brand.
Focus on what really makes the grade in the ESSENTIALS and IMPORTANT sections above!
PERFUMES / SCENTS / MASKING AGENTS
When ever you hear of a skin reaction in the media to a cosmetic product… whether it be a moisturiser, body lotion or tanning solution, you will notice the solution being used contained a perfume or scent.
Perfumes which are used to mask the ‘smell’ of the base tanning solution, are the highest probability ingredients to be causing these skin reactions… So try to avoid solutions using fragrances.
As long as your solution is not subject to long storage times due to importation, it should be fresh enough that it will not have a strong base scent (especially once applied to the skin).
* Australian Made solutions will have less base scent if they are manufactured regularly. Ask your supplier how often their solutions are produced (once a month is a regular production schedule).
‘Most’ tanning solutions will contain various ingredients in all 4 categories, however the specific ingredient in each class will vary in type and quality.
If you can see through the hype and ask the right questions, you will spend a lot less time wondering whether you have the ‘best’ solution on the market and a lot more time knowing you are using the best.
Good Luck in your search for a solution!
Please see our store to purchase a 250mL trial bottle.