What’s the Deal with DHA? How the Chemical Creates Your Tan

Each time you spray tan, you owe your glow to DHA, the FDA-approved active ingredient in tanning solution. DHA, which stands for dihydroxyacetone, is derived from glycerine fermentation or fructose and reacts to the amino acidsin dead skin cells in the epidermis layer of the skin. This chemical reaction in the skin’s keratin proteins produces brown pigmentation, or melanoids, on the surface of the skin. The colour that develops a few hours after application has a similar likeness to the melanin the body produces when exposed to the sun’s rays, which is why you can easily fake a natural, healthy bronze all year round.

Understanding how DHA functions in the skin explains many tanning mishaps. If you’ve ever experienced a patchy tan, it’s most likely due to inadequate exfoliation and the varying thickness of the epidermis. As the dead skin cells shed and new skin cells emerge, the colour from the spray tan fades. When the cells present on the outer layer of the skin are in different phases of the shedding process, the absorption and lasting power of DHA will vary between sections of the epidermis. To achieve a smooth, lasting tan, it’s important to exfoliate thoroughly before application to reveal a new layer of skin, and to avoid exfoliation and extended water exposure once the the tan has set, as the bronze pigmentation is only present in the top layer.

Another major variable in achieving the perfect tan pertains to the reaction between the pH of amino acids in the skin and the pH of the tanning solution. If the combination of the solution and skin results in an alkaline pH, the developed tan will be the dreaded orange colour every spray tanner fears. To avoid this, the solution should have an acidic quality and the amount of water used in dilution must be carefully calculated. Sunescape products are formulated with pH in mind to achieve a rich bronze on all skin tones every time.

While DHA is non-toxic when used externally, it is still important to protect yourself from the inhalation of DHA when spray tanning, and to insure the products being used contain the highest quality DHA. Sunescape products contain DHA that has been purchase prednisone online approved by ECOCERT, an internationally recognised company that insures products are developed and produced with the environment’s best interests in mind. The marriage of this superior DHA and Sunescape’s nourishing ingredients, such as avocado, coconut, argan and macadamia oils, is what makes Sunescape Tan so unique – the formula is healthy, long lasting, and as natural as can be. Sunescape spray tans also develop in only 2 hours, as opposed to the standard 7-12 hours of other solutions.


Finding a formula with the right percentage for you all depends on your skin tone and natural melanin production. For the most discreet tan, it’s usually best to opt for the colour suited to your bare complexion, but with the Sunescape formula you can build up the intensity of your tan without it looking unnatural on the skin.

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Find your shade:

If you have very pale skin and are new to tanning, you may want to test the waters with the Hydrating Gradual Tan Extender. Gradual tanning lotions and tan extenders tend to contain only 1.5-2% DHA, making them a foolproof option for tanning newbies.

Weekend in Bondi contains 10% DHA and is is best suited to those with fair skin OR for those bronzed bunnies wanting slightly more depth to their own tan. This colour is a great option to use before a night out or during the winter when your skin needs a little extra oomph.

Week in Fiji will create that post-holiday glow for  any skin tone, as it contains 12% DHA. This shade will make your physique appear slimmer and your teeth whiter – who wouldn’t want that?

Month in Maui is the darkest Sunescape solution, containing 14% DHA. As the name suggests, this colour will have you looking like you’ve enjoyed a long, sun-soaked holiday. If you want to achieve a dramatic bronzed look or if you’re going on a beach holiday, then  this is the colour for you!

Once you’re aware of how DHA functions on the skin and the number of factors involved in creating the right tan, it makes sense that so many tanning solutions miss the mark. Sunescape Tan was carefully formulated for the best results on all skin types, so you’ll never go wrong by choosing our brand.