Sunless tanning: A review

Ashley R. Curtis, Daniel J. Sheehan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Despite rising numbers of melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers, many Americans continue to tan their skin and believe that a tan enhances their appearance. It is well documented that ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or indoor tanning beds is linked to skin cancer and accelerated aging of the skin. In an effort to reduce exposure to UV radiation, and subsequently decrease the risk of skin cancer, some dermatologists have advocated the use of sunless tanning products. Most sunless tanning products contain the active ingredient dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA tans the skin by binding to amino acids in the stratum corneum, producing covalently bound chromophobes called melanoids through a process known as the Maillard browning reaction. To decrease the adverse effects associated with UV-radiation-induced tanning, physicians must continue to advocate a safe alternative. Sunless tanning with DHA-based formulations should be recommended to patients desiring a tanned appearance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)691-694
Number of pages4
JournalCosmetic Dermatology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Dermatology


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