Whether you’re a self-confessed serial self-tanner or a complete newbie to the tanning game, knowing how long a fake tan takes to develop and how to nail the perfect tone comes down to understanding the product in your hot little hands. If you’ve been asking yourself questions like ‘What happens if you leave fake tan on for too long?’ or ‘Do I rinse this tan off with just water or soap, too?’ Keep reading on. This Q&A guide covers all those kinds of questions that tend to flash through your mind the moment you’re mid-application and realise: you didn’t do your reading beforehand.
For starters, how does fake tan work?
Understanding how fake tan works will help you ascertain how long to let the self-tanner develop on your skin. So here goes… fake tan works by using active ingredients like dihydroxyacetone (DHA) to darken the outermost layer of the skin.
The DHA in the self-tanner begins to react with the amino acids in the top layer of the skin and over the next few hours, the DHA continues to darken in colour. As you would expect, the depth of the tan depends on the concentration of DHA in the product and the individual's skin.
Of course, always follow the directions on the product you’ve purchased, as the development of the tan depends on the percentage of DHA used in the product and the recommended exposure time (how long you leave the tan on for) will vary according to this. Whilst some suggest rinsing off the excess solution after a specific amount of time to avoid overdevelopment, others are designed to be left on your skin until the next shower or bath.
At Sontse. Our unique formulation has been cleverly designed to emulate the kind of tan you’d get from a few weeks of holidaying in your favourite European destination, minus the UV rays of course! 😛 You can check out our Sontse. range of sunless tanning products, here.
What is DHA in tanning solution? And is DHA safe?
Wondering what is DHA in spray tan solutions and other tanning products? The key active ingredient that most sunless tanners use is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA can be manufactured synthetically or derived from glycerine and plant sources. Either way, this form of sugar then interacts with the amino acids in the skin’s outermost layer.
When DHA comes into contact with these amino acids, a chemical reaction occurs that changes the colour pigmentation of the skin to give a darker, more tanned appearance.
As for safety, in Australia, DHA has been approved for cosmetic use in beauty products like self-tanners.
At Sontse. in particular, the DHA in our products is specifically derived from natural plant sources making it a nourishing addition to our formulation.
How do fake tan ingredients affect the colour of your tan?
Knowing what’s inside your fake tan is important, not only for the health of your skin but for the kind of colour match that has all your besties questioning what you did this winter to really preserve such a glow.
Commonly the following fake tan ingredients are used to change the colour of your tan:
- Dyes and pigments
- Colour-correcting agents
- Natural extracts
No matter what combination of ingredients is used to create the perfect tone in your fake tan, be sure to choose a brand that is committed to using the safest ingredients that have been tested not just in isolation but as a complete formula. Both synthetic and natural ingredients can have chemical reactions, so it’s important to ensure that the entire product has been scientifically formulated and is tested and approved as safe to use on your skin.
Looking for a quality self-tanner that ticks all the boxes? Check out our range of sunless tanning products that are scientifically formulated.
How long should you leave fake tan on?
Asking yourself ‘how long do you leave fake tan on for a light, natural glow?’
We suggest leaving a self-tanning mousse like Sontse. Golden Hour Self-Tan Mousse on clean, exfoliated skin for no less than one hour. This gives enough time for the ingredients to activate and begin lightly colour-enhancing the outer layer of your skin.
For the darkest tone naturally imitating the kind of tan you’d expect from a well-deserved vacay along the western shores of Ukraine's Black Sea, let your Sontse. Golden Hour Self-Tan Mousse shine for up to four hours before rinsing off.
Of course, for any other product in the market, being sure to read the label and follow that brand’s specific instructions will help you to get the best results according to that specific formulation.
On the other hand, understanding your skin type and what looks ‘natural’ for your particular skin tone can be helpful. You can learn more about your skin type here.
How long does it take for fake tan to develop on average?
Usually, a self-tanning mousse can continue to develop up to 48 hours after application.
At Sontse. our tanning solutions are derived from more natural and skin-safe ingredients and will continue to develop up to 24 hours after a rinse in water.
However, for those that are not huge sunless tanners or who want something lighter through the cooler months, a mist self-tanner or mousse with lower DHA can help to provide a more subtle and natural glow.
Just take Sontse.'s Sun Lit Face & Body Tan Mist, for example.
For those who are ready to fall head over heels for a quick, stunning glow up, all you will need to do is simply spritz and leave our self-tanner on for at least 4 hours for a subtle shine and up to 8 hours for a more deep, darkly-bronzed tan.
For more gradual tan results however that feel risk-free and give you greater colour control, building upon your base tan with some light spritzes of a self-tanning mist can be the safest approach to developing the perfect tan.
Should you leave fake tan on overnight?
In general it is important to note that different sunless tanners will have different recommended rinse times as each product has been formulated differently.
At Sontse. in particular, our mousse has been formulated to be a one-size-fits-all approach to a natural glow that suits almost everybody.
We have created this so you, as the individual who knows your own skin best, can control your colour depth, based on your personal skin tone preferences.
Broadly speaking, if you’re wanting that deep, dark bronze look or tend to naturally give off a more olive complexion in the summer months, leaving fake tan on overnight could be quite suitable for you.
For those who want a more subtle, slight colour lift that looks so natural you can hardly tell you’re faking it… then leaving fake tan on overnight is risky. We say, don’t play with it. Instead, leave it on for 1-2 hours before rinsing off in the shower soap-free to stop the developing process from continuing.
Whatever you choose to do, it’s important to remember that every skin tone has a different threshold to DHA. For some, leaving the product on overnight will develop a rich, beautiful colour, whilst for others, leaving a tan in the development phase for that long may cause it to overdevelop. A skin patch test can be a great way to work out the best timing for you.
If sleeping in fake tan is something you’re totally chilled about, be sure to follow these few recommendations to give you the most beautiful outcome for your tan and your sheets:
- Sleep in loose long sleeve tops and pants to prevent skin-to-skin contact that can cause sweating and rubbing the still-developing tan away! Make sure you’re not a drooler or sweater! This is pretty self-explanatory… but liquid will stop the developing process.
- Use old bed sheets or darker sheets just in case the colour transfers.
What happens if you leave fake tan on too long?
Oh hun. We hope you are reading this proactively. But if not and you’re desperately googling ‘Can you leave spray tan on too long?’ Not to worry. We have all been there. Leaving spray tan on too long is certainly no fun. Although our Sontse. products are pretty foolproof if sticking to the recommended times, sometimes our days can get the best of us and we totally forget to watch the time for when we’re supposed to wash off.
If this happens, immediately rinse off in the shower using soap as the water will only rinse off excess DHA, which will not stop the DHA in the tanner from continuing to develop. If your event is in a few days, and allowing the tan to fade naturally is an option, be sure to keep moisturising to preserve the freshness of the tan. If however, you’d prefer to start again, lightly exfoliate your skin evenly and start the process again. Be aware though, if a tan is fully developed on freshly exfoliated skin, a light exfoliation will most likely not remove the tan and instead only gently fade the tan colour.
Of course, the best way to avoid a self-tanning mishap is to be thoroughly guided on the process before you pull out the tanning mitt and mousse to begin. You can get your step-by-step guide on ‘How to Self Tan’ here.
Written By Liana Pantalone – Beauty & Skincare Copywriter at Climbing Vine Co.