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2-Hour Tans – Truth or Myth?

Friday, May 21, 2010
by John Doe

The 2-hour tan – is it a myth or is it actually possible? Getting a fake tan is already a quick solution to getting a bronzed look. With sunless tanning products you can have white skin this morning and sport a beautiful brown tan this afternoon. That’s half a day. But could you have a fake tan in 2 hours?

Before we answer that question, let’s look at how a fake tan develops.

It’s all in the DHA

The all-important ingredient in sunless tanning products is DHA.

DHA stands for dihydroxyacetone, which is a sugar-like substance that is used in most externally applied sunless tanning solutions. DHA is what makes your skin go dark in the hours after applying a fake tanning product.

How does it do that? The sugar in the DHA interacts with the skin cells in the outermost layer of your skin (the ‘stratum corneum’ of the epidermis) and a change in your skin colour starts taking effect. Let’s not get more scientific than that – I’m afraid you’ll stop reading…

How long does it take for the tan to develop?

Each sunless tanning product uses slightly different ingredients, including possibly different types of DHA and other ingredients that help the tanning process along.

That means that some products need longer than others to develop. You will need to carefully read the instructions of the tanning solution you use to make sure you leave the product on for a long enough time to get the best result.

Basically, the DHA starts to develop on your skin about an hour after applying and will keep developing for several hours after that. Some sunless tanning products recommend leaving it on for 6 hours, others for 4 hours and yes, some products claim you can have a tan in 2 hours.

For example, Amber Sun carries sunless tanning products that take 2-4 hours to develop.

Does that mean you can have a tan in 2 hours? Sure, but it won’t be the darkest possible tan. If you leave it on for 2 more hours, your tan will be a deeper, darker colour.

To get the most out of your sunless tanning session (and product), you should always try to leave it on for the maximum recommended time. That’s why it’s often suggested it’s good to apply your fake tan before you go to sleep so you can leave it on overnight and wash it off in the morning. That way your tan will have had plenty of time to develop.

What about immediate colour on your skin?

Some sunless tanning products contain a bronzer. A bronzer is a cosmetic colour that you can see immediately. Bronzers are often used in spray tans or self-tanning products so that you, or the therapist at your spray-tan salon, can easily see where the product has been applied and where it hasn’t yet – ensuring a more even result.

Temporary bronzers: If you really need a bronzed look immediately and don’t have a couple of hours to spare, you can use bronzing powder. These bronzers are cosmetic solutions, like make-up. They tint your skin until you wash them off. Great for when you need that sun-kissed look right now, but you probably wouldn’t use it for your entire body.

Compare self-tanning products: Have a look in our online self-tanner shop to find the perfect sunless tanning solution for you.

2-hour tan – possible or not? Let us know! Which product do you think gives a quick tan? Is it actually possible to get a fake tan in 2 hours? We’d love to hear what you think – just leave a comment below.