In Western countries, it is common to find people basking in the sun on beaches, hoping to get the bronzed look mistakenly associated with good health and vitality.
Doctors state that suntans, whether light or dark, are a skin ailment.
They suggest faking tans by using commercially available tanning lotions.
These lotions provide the bronzed look without posing the danger of premature aging, eye ailments, or skin cancer.
In addition, they do not affect the immune system as sun tanning does.
Self-tanning or sunless tanning lotions are composed of chemicals that help to change the color of the skin, temporarily.
Their most important ingredient is dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
DHA is a kind of sugar that stains skin brown through a chemical reaction with the topmost skin cells.
As these cells are naturally replaced the tan is temporary, usually lasting for about a week.
Self-tanning lotions can be applied easily and are available in different shades.
A first-time user should try a light shade with DHA of 3 to 5%.
People who have a medium complexion benefit most from self-tanning lotions.
These lotions, although safe for everyone, do not work well for very fair or very dark people.
In addition, these lotions do not give a good effect on scarred, freckled, sun burnt, or wrinkled skin.
Sunless tanning lotion should be applied immediately after a shower, and gloves must be worn to protect the palms from staining.
It is best to remain indoors until the lotion is thoroughly absorbed by the skin.
The lotion can be safely reapplied every week, or more often if required.
However, it is important to remember that most sunless tanning lotions do not offer any protection against the ultraviolet rays of the sun.
Therefore, it is necessary to apply a sunscreen before going out during the day.