Skip Nav
Beauty Tips
Why Your Face-Picking Could Be a Deeper Psychological Issue
Spring Beauty
You'll Fall in Love With These Hair Colors For Spring
Spring Beauty
Benefit's 4 New Products Will Instantly Transport You to Tropical Paradise

Dihydroxyacetone (DHA)

Definition: Dihydroxyacetone (DHA)

Simply put, dihydroxyacetone is the active ingredient used to make self-tanners work. Discovered to have skin darkening properties in the 1920s by a German scientist, DHA is typically derived from plant sources, such as beets or sugar cane.

DHA works by interacting with the amino acids of your dead skin cells, resulting in a brownish-tan hue. The color sticks around for about three to ten days, depending on how long it takes for your skin cells to shed.

The first commercial self-tanning product was released in 1960 from Coppertone, called Quick Tan or QT. The biggest problem with early formulations? Orange, streaky results. Nowadays you can get your own dose of DHA in many sun-free ways: creams, sprays, wipes, and even mousses — streak and orange free.

Around The Web
Join The Conversation
tatsauce tatsauce 8 years
Beware if you have keratosis pilaris, since the skin cells don't exfoliate normally, the self tanner can come out streaky. I had zebra legs after using the Neutrogena spray. Exfoliate like a mofo if you plan to use it.
Beauty Mark It! The Quest For The Best Self Tanner
What Beauty Products Do I Need in My 20s?
Self-Tanner Tips by Skin Tone
The Unhealthy Side Effect of Getting a Spray Tan
Best Self-Tanner Spring 2013
The Best Self-Tanners For Your Face
Self-Tanner History

POPSUGAR, the #1 independent media and technology company for women. Where more than 75 million women go for original, inspirational content that feeds their passions and interests.

From Our Partners
Latest Beauty
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds