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Can Fake Tan Cause Acne and Breakouts for Redheads?

Sensitive skin and DHA are not the best match

Many redheads have pretty fair skin and most of us cannot tan. If we want to get our glow on, sunless tanner is a great way to get a subtle glow without exposing skin to harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Sunless tanner can be great unless you’re breaking out after using it. If you’re experiencing breakouts, irritation, redness and itchy skin, you might be allergic to Dihydroxyacetone (DHA), the active ingredient in most sunless tanning products.

DHA is the bronzing agent in many sunless tanners. DHA is an active ingredient that interacts with our skin cells to darken their appearance and creates the illusion of a tan. When applied to the skin, DHA reacts with the amino acids in the outermost layer of your skin to produce a brown pigment called melanoidin. This reaction gives the appearance of a tan without exposure to the sun’s UV rays. 

DHA can cause a contact dermatitis rash on those who have sensitive skin or are allergic to the chemical. DHA is found in both at-home sunless tanners and spray tan that is applied by a professional. It’s hard to know if you have a DHA allergy prior to using sunless tanner, which is why it’s always best to patch-test any products with DHA in them. Test a small area and wait to see if redness, rashes, or bumps appear

Unfortunately, DHA is the key ingredient for getting a semi-permanent sunless tan, and almost all tanning products have it in them. For redheads who are allergic, you can opt for wash-off DHA-free sunless tanning makeup and bronzers like the following: 

1. Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs Makeup


2. Isle of Paradise Disco Tan Instant Wash-Off Body Bronzer 


3. St. Tropez Instant Glow Face & Body Bronzer Makeup 


For redheads willing to try something new, there is one self-tanner, by Glimmer Goddess, claims to be DHA free and seems to have some positive feedback. We have not tried it yet, but it might be worth a shot. Remember, sunless tanner does not provide any sun protection, so sunscreen is still necessary if you’ll be exposed to the sun.

Rock it like a Redhead! 


READ: Fake Tan Tips: A Redhead’s Guide On How To Apply Sunless Tan

READ: 5 Self-Tanner Hacks for Redheads