Safe Spray Tans with DHA?! … DHA? What’s that?

Understanding DHA use in Sunless Products
The Story of DHA (Dihydroxyacetone)

DHA was first used as an active ingredient during research on the treatment of diabetics, some of whom tolerated DHA better than glucose.

In 1957, the tanning properties of DHA were discovered in a children’s hospital. DHA was administered orally as a treatment of a childhood glycogen storage disease. The doctor noticed that children that spit up some of the DHA mixture developed brown spots where the DHA splashed on the skin. The doctor experimented by rubbing the mixture on her own skin. She tanned as well. The first scientific papers on DHA were published in 1960. DHA’s physicochemical properties, tanning mechanics and skin tolerance have been explored since these studies resulting in improved methods of application, and results that produce a more natural looking uniform tan. Present day production of DHA still relies on fermentation, as it did in the late 1800’s.

The Browning Action
When DHA is applied to the skin; a brown “tan” forms in about 2 to 3 hours. The tan continues to darken for approximately 6 hours. The result can be a quite pleasing dark tan. The tan is absolutely water-resistant and diminishes only as the dead cells of the stratum corneum flake off – usually in 4-5 days. Some people expect a tan to provide UV protection. However, unlike the melanin pigments, the DHA-derived polymers do not absorb significant amounts of UV light, and therefore, cannot protect against UVB radiation. However, a DHA tan can be considered a UVA sunscreen to some extent.

The FDA’s position on DHA
DHA is a food grade product and is approved for ingestion by the FDA. In fact, the largest user of DHA in the world is the health supplement industry. Because DHA is a Pyruvate or fat burner, it is found in many weight loss products. DHA has also been approved for application in creams and lotions and has no known detrimental effects on the body when applied topically. It has been a common ingredient in most sunless tanning lotions for many years. DHA has not been specifically evaluated for use in spray-on tanning systems. However, this lack of evaluation should not be considered a negative statement of great concern. As a comparison, the ink used in permanent tattooing has never be evaluated for that use by the FDA either.

Norvell Sunless Spray Solutions, the solutions used by Sunless Studios, contain no known toxins or allergens. However, as with ANY substance, repeated exposure to, or inhalation of, airborne matter may cause irritation or discomfort. Common sense tells us to recommend that people who will be using the product on a daily basis should wear some type of air filtering mask to reduce contact. Customers should be advised to hold their breath when the product is applied near the mouth or nostrils. Technicians need to remember to NOT spray directly into the slits of the eyes or advise clients to wear eye protection such as VIEWkeepers® or WINK-EASE® ( Customers should be advised to apply a lip balm prior to tanning to avoid application of DHA to the lips, as lips will not show a color benefit from the application of DHA.


Can a pregnant women be safely sprayed?
Norvell Sunless Spay Solution is a non-toxic, food grade product. We have NOT received information from any medical authority that would indicate detrimental effects to an expectant mother and we have not heard of anyone be advised not to tan by their physician. However, as you would before using ANY product, on a expectant mother, we recommend each customer consult with their personal physician before receiving a DHA tan application.

Does DHA pose a risk to diabetics?
We have received no feedback from any medical authority that would indicate a risk to a diabetic person. However, as mentioned above, common sense tells us anyone with any medical condition should consult with their physician before receiving a DHA tan application.

*Information courtesy of Norvell Sunless, the exclusive airbrush solution of Sunless StudiosCall today to book your appointment. 817-749-0111

The Snooki … Definitely NOT a good look.

Okay, ladies (and gents), the madness has got to STOP. The orange is out – trust me. I know that orange is a great fall color and does a fine job at reppin’ Halloween, but do you really want this bright, vibrant, unnatural color representing you and on your skin at that??? I think not. I know, I know… Don’t panic. I’m not telling you to stop your spray tans by any means, because the dangers from overexposure to UV light and extra wrinkles is a not cute look either… I’m just saying to make sure you know what kind of spray tan you are actually getting and the two main rules to avoid that ungodly orange hue!

Rule #1. No automated spray booths. You really think that standing in a space-like capsule as the machine “tells” you how to stand and sprays you down with one of the three (if you are lucky) solutions, it just happens be filled with, is going to ensure that perfect, even glow? Yeah, right. It only took once for me to figure out that, while I listen like a champ, these tanning sessions for me were more or less like a rookie day in yoga class trying to figure out how to exactly stand in “Position 1″ … And, we won’t even begin to mention that lines that formulated on my face from the scrunched look I held, as I worried about my hands and feet looking like I took a swim in the Red River… So, my personal recommendation, just leave it to the professionals – the artists – the airbrush. As long as your airbrush artists or airbrush technicians are highly skilled and educated and don’t look tanorexic themselves, they should be able to even out any existing tan lines, customize your perfect color and use discretion on certain areas (like your face) or even add an little extra color to others (like your pasty buns).

Rule #2. Balance. Trust me – I’m not getting all philosophical on you. While I think everyone needs a little balance and equilibrium, I am talking about your skin -and its pH. What the heck is your pH?? Yeah, I know I didn’t even think about pH either, until the recent alkaline water craze started and forced me to reminisce about Ms. Tucker’s 6th grade science class and her too many classroom animals. Well, here is a brief breakdown: pH is the measure of how acidic or basic solutions or products are. It ranges from 0-14, water being neutral with a pH of 7, anything below 7 being acidic and anything above 7 taking basic qualities. Before, I start sounding like Bill Nye… Basically, your skin’s pH needs to be between 4.5 and 6. SO, balance it out. Making sure your pH is where it needs to be can greatly reduce any chance of a Snooki scare and some places even have pH balancing prep sprays. If they offer it, you definitely need to get it. Don’t be cheap; the scrubs you will have to use to wear off a hideous tan will be WAY more expensive in the long run. Plus, your skin won’t be so dry and essentially you won’t flake off your tan. Thank goodness… As if there was anything worse than being orange, being orange AND flaky. Uh, GROSS. Oh, and ladies, these aren’t the tanning ovens beds, so please, please don’t go every other day. As much as that would definitely help out the sunless tanning industry… If you are doing what you need to be doing, your tan will last about a week and you will always be that perfect bronze color.

Pre & Post Tan Tips


  • Exfoliate your skin the night prior to your appointment! Our solutions affect the top layer of your skin and the more you exfoliate prior to your appointment, the longer the treatment will last. Sunless Studios offers a premier selection of exfoliants and pre-treatment products to maximize our client’s airbrush results. Won’t be able to exfoliate? Don’t worry! We also offer an exfoliating mitt that our clients can purchase during their appointment.
  • Avoid any lotions, creams, moisturizers, perfumes, body sprays and any other products with filmy or oily residues. We want our treaments to penetrate the skin and most of these products will act as a barrier.
  • Remove any make-up and deodorants from your skin. Often cosmetics and deodorants can cause a discoloration when mixed with our solutions during the initial treatment process. Removing them will help in guaranting an even spray.
  • Shave or wax prior to your appointment. Shaving or waxing will remove any unwanted hair, along with your treatment. It is optimal to shave or wax at least two days before your scheduled appointment.
  • Bring dark, loose-fitting clothing and open-toed shoes or flip flops to your appointment. Some of Sunless Studios tanning spray have instant bronzers; therefore, you receive immediate color! However, wearing tight clothing will result in the solution rubbing off and creating potential streaking and uneven tones prior to showering. All solutions will not stain your clothes and will wash off during regular washing cycles.


  • Wait to shower until at least 8-10 hours after your appointment. It takes approximately 8-10 hours for the DHA to develop into your newly hydrated, toned and glowing skin and water will inhibit this from taking place during the first hours following your appointment. Avoid sweating, swimming and even rain.
  • Moisturize with a tan extender after showering. Just as certain moisturizers can act in creating a barrier from the solutions penetrating the skin, the right moisturizers can also extend your treatment. Sunless Studios offers a full-line of treatment extenders and tanning maintenance kits to maximize the healthy, results of Sunless Studios’ one-of-a-kind treatments.

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