How does a spray tan work, exactly?
The key ingredient of many effective self-tanning products is a chemical derived from sugar called dihydroxyacetone, or DHA.
Mystic Tan is a full body, DHA tanning process that utilizes MagneTan technology, a revolutionary process that allows the booth to apply a uniform amount of tanning solution to all parts of the body. When the Mystic Tan solution passes through the booth’s nozzles, the particles of solution are polarized, taking on the characteristics of tiny magnets. MagneTan technology uses the body’s own magnetic properties to attract the solution particles to all surfaces of the skin.
It works by reacting with amino acids in the dead cells of the thin, outermost layer of the skin, called the stratum corneum, to produce pigments called melanoidins. The color lasts three to seven days, until those cells are sloughed off.
Using products with DHA to get a tan is safer than sun exposure. DHA is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and is considered safe by most dermatologists, but only when the products are used as approved.
They should be applied only to the surface of the skin, avoiding eyes, lips and mucous membranes. Spray-tanning booths are not recommended, even when nose plugs and goggles are used.
Some products with high concentrations of DHA increase susceptibility to cell damage from reactive forms of oxygen produced by sunlight, called free radicals, for 24 hours after application. For this reason, some researchers have recommended reducing exposure to the sun if you use self-tanners.
In any case, self-tanning products are not a substitute for sun blockers, because their sun protection factor, or S.P.F., is minimal and short-lived. “It is extremely important to apply sunscreen” after using self-tanners, according to a review of tanning methods in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology.
When the tanning process is finished, the SkinSpaMED member simply steps out of the booth, towels-off any excess mist, dresses, and exits. The result is a uniform, natural-looking tan that looks like you came straight from the beach!