DHA And Spray Tanning


DHA ( Dihydroxyacetone) is primarily used as an ingredient in sunless tanning products. It is often derived from plant sources such as sugar beets and sugar cane and by the fermentation of glycerin is a powder. DHA is also colorless.

DHA is the main active ingredient in all sunless tanning skincare preparations. It may be used alone or combined with other tanning components such as erythrulose. DHA is considered the most effective sun-free tanning additive.

Sunless tanning products contain DHA in concentrations ranging from 1% to 15%. Most drugstore products range from 3% to 5%, with professional products ranging from 1% to 16%. The percentages correspond with the product coloration levels from light to dark. Once the darkening effect has occurred, the tan will not sweat off or wash away with soap or water. It will fade gradually over 3 to 10 days. Exfoliation, prolonged water submersion, or heavy sweating can lighten the tan, as these all contribute to rapid dead skin cell exfoliation , so it is very important that you stress post tan care instructions to your clients.

DHA-based sunless tanning has been recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, American Academy of Dermatology Association, Canadian Dermatology Association and the American Medical Association as a safer alternative to sun-bathing.

Is DHA organic?

No dha is certified organic. Other components in a spray tan solution can be organic based but the dha is not. In a nutshell Ecocert is a governing body certifying that dha is pure enough to be used in organic cosmetics but they are not certifying it organic. You can read their statement on dha here http://www.ecocert.com/en/ecocert-statement-dha

How do I know what DHA to use on a client?

This is a very common question that I get as many solution manufactures do not disclose the dha level of their product or their solution is made with only 1 strength of dha. Some trainers do not go over dha and just show the student how to spray with one product doing less or more coats to achieve the desired results. So needless to say when a spray tanner then wants to try a spray tan solution that is made with different dha levels it leaves them confused and they do not know how to choose or what the numbers mean.

Perfect Glow Sunless will always disclose the dha as I feel that it is important to know what is in the product for the tech to make sure they use the best strength for their client.

Many products contain dha starting at 5% and can go up to 16%. The lower the number means the lower the strength. The higher the number means the darker the strength.

DHA levels examples:
5%-7% is for a light tan range
7.5%-9% is for a medium tan range
9.5%-12.5% is for a dark tan range
13%-16% would be for body builders or a rapid tan solution

So what to use?
Let’s say that you have a very fair redhead client (type1) who is extremely pale and maybe a little nervous. The 5% would provide them with a pretty subtle glow compared to a 10% which would be very dark and probably make them unnatural or orange.

So remember that the higher the dha the darker the tan. But it is also based on their skin tone (which is discussed on the website here https://perfectglowsunless.com/spray-tan-solution-descriptions/) so you cannot use every % on every skin tone. It is always recommend when unsure and testing out a new product that you err on the side of caution and stay on the lower side until you are familiar with the product. You can always gradually increase.

Please note that there are different grades of dha with some being stronger than others. So for example you can use a 12% in one product and be ok but then try a 12% with Perfect Glow Sunless and be too dark. That is because our dha is pure and will pull darker results then some others. So when testing out any manufacturers blend I do not recommended that you try the darkest color right off the bat. I always recommend testing out a nice medium/dark dha such as a 10%.

When in doubt I always say that it is better for a client to come back and tell you that they loved the tan but just want to be darker. This is 100 times better than blasting them with too dark of a color and they turn orange. Then they never return or tell people that their spray tan was horrible causing you to lose business and risking your reputation! 




Melissa Weinberg is the creator of Perfect Glow Sunless  A premium luxury line of professional spray tan solution and self-tanning products. Her products are used by professional salons and spas all over the world. She is also a South Florida spray tan expert and offers online and in person spray tan training. For more information visit http://learntoairbrushtan.com for more course information.