Written by Stacy Chbosky
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Thank goodness for DHA. DHA, also known as Dihydroxyacetone, is a type of natural sugar. Dihydroxyacetone has been a popular ingredient in the cosmetic industry for decades. DHA is also a very important ingredient in many sunless tanning products. The cosmetic industry has been using it for 30 years without incident, so it's considered totally safe.

How DHA Works

Ready for a basic biology lesson? The skin is a complicated and wonderful organ, which also happens to be the largest organ of the body. Your skin is comprised of three layers, known as the epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutis. You've got about 12 to 20 square feet of skin, which is made up of a whole lot of water, a decent amount of protein, and a relatively small amount of lipids, trace minerals, and other goodies.

One of these skin proteins is known as keratin. When Dihydroxyacetone reacts with certain amino groups within the keratin of your epidermis, a wonderful thing happens--you get tan. You get tan without harmful UV rays, sunshine, or cancer risk. In other words, when Dihydroxyacetone reacts with keratin, the result is sunless tanning.

This tan can begin to appear within an hour, and be stabilized within four hours. Although Dihydroxyacetone is a popular ingredient in a number of tanners, the success with which it is applied varies greatly. With bad tanners, Dihydroxyacetone is applied in such a way that it leaves ugly streaks on the skin. With good tanners, it is applied in such a way as to create an even, natural glow.

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