Getting a tan from a bottle is far safer than sunbathing -- and more natural than it seems. Dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, the active ingredient in many sunless tanners, most often is derived from sugar beets or sugarcane. The nontoxic compound reacts with amino acids in the skin's outer layer, causing it to darken. There are also liquid and powdered bronzers, which use minerals to cast a just-for-today tan. Our picks (below) include vitamins and plant extracts, so skin ends up healthier than it started.
The American Cancer Society, the Skin Cancer Foundation, and many other organizations stand behind products like these as safe alternatives to a suntan. The self-tanners' effects fade after four to six days, while the color from bronzers and tinted moisturizers easily washes off in the shower.
These self-tanners and bronzers are not only safer than sunning, they also nourish the skin.
Lavera Sunless Tan Self-Tanning Lotion
As much a treatment as a tanner, this formulation for face and body moisturizes and soothes skin with organic aloe, calendula extract, jojoba oil, and rose water.
Origins The Great Pretender
Instant gratification-seekers take note: Origins' self-tanner for the body has a tint that bronzes your skin immediately, even before the tanning ingredients start working. It has a bonus shimmer effect, too.
Dr. Hauschka Skin Care Translucent Bronze Concentrate
Although officially meant to obscure skin imperfections, this concentrate is known among devotees for its "off-label" use as a bronzer. Smooth it on your face and body for a convincingly sun-kissed look.
Juice Beauty SPF 30 Tinted Moisturizer
The minerals in this tinted cream do double duty, lending skin color and acting as full-spectrum sun blockers. The product also contains pomegranate juice, which acts as a powerful antioxidant.
Bare Escentuals i.d. BareMinerals Blush
This mineral-only bronzing powder looks good on all skin tones, making it a favorite among makeup artists. Dust it lightly on cheeks, temples, nose -- anywhere the sun would normally hit.
Text by Abbie Kozolchyk; photograph by Rita Maas