11 Clean Self


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May 18, 2024

11 Clean Self

Transforming into a tanned, glowing goddess doesn't have to come with health hazards and skin damage. Whether it's the confidence boost that comes with a golden complexion or the subtle reminder of

Transforming into a tanned, glowing goddess doesn't have to come with health hazards and skin damage.

Whether it's the confidence boost that comes with a golden complexion or the subtle reminder of days spent by the beach and adventure in the sunshine, there's something so alluring about tanned skin.

Unfortunately, basking in the sun might make us look better in the short term, but it doesn't come without some potentially serious consequences. From premature skin aging to pigmentary disorders and even skin cancer, getting our glow from the sun isn't worth the risks.

So does that mean you must let go of your dreams for a sun-kissed complexion? Absolutely not! Nowadays, there are plenty of safe and healthy ways to get that summer glow without putting your skin at risk. And the best way to go about it is with a self-tanner. We found some of the best clean and non-toxic self-tanners on the market to help you get your sun-kissed glow.

But let's first talk about what self-tanners are, how they work, and, most importantly, address the concerns some people have about them.

Self-tanners are safe to use externally; however, not every product is made the same, and some may contain potentially harmful ingredients. The active ingredient in most self-tanners is dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a 3-carbon sugar that interacts with the outermost, protein-rich layer of our skin to produce melanoidins, which are brown chromophores that cause temporary staining of the skin.

While DHA is currently the only FDA-approved active ingredient for self-tanners, there have been concerns about its safety. The main issue is that there are no long-term studies evaluating the effects of DHA on human health, raising the possibility of potential skin or health problems down the line. For example, while many studies suggest that DHA is well tolerated when applied externally, it has been known to cause short-term allergic reactions in some people. Additionally, most studies on the rather limited safety of DHA advise that the ingredient be used with caution, as inhaling or ingesting it can be hazardous, which is particularly concerning when using spray tans.

But to its credit, DHA is an ingredient derived from natural sources like sugar cane, which means it's not necessarily harmful by default, as not all DHA-containing products are made the same, and many modern brands that carry self-tanning products are making efforts to make them safer. This means that, while DHA can be problematic, not every self-tanning product on the market is toxic, and with a bit of research, you can find safe options that produce a natural-looking tan without putting your health at risk.

But besides DHA, there are other potentially toxic ingredients commonly found in self-tanners, such as parabens, which are preservatives linked to endocrine disruption, and artificial fragrances, which can contain numerous undisclosed chemicals, some of which may be harmful and cause uncomfortable symptoms ranging from skin irritation and itching to headaches, nausea, and dizziness.

Moreover, some self-tanners, particularly those that also double as sunscreens, may contain oxybenzone, a chemical that has been detected in our bloodstream (due to also being used in shampoos) and associated with hormone disruption and potential cell damage that may lead to some forms of cancer.

Finally, many self-tanners contain synthetic colorants and dyes made of petroleum and sometimes coal tar. Some of these have also been linked to organ toxicity and aquatic destruction, so many environmentally-conscious brands are moving away from using them.

But, with all that said, while it's worth noting that using self-tanners comes at a risk, many studies also suggest that for potential hazards and health issues to occur, exposure needs to be way higher than what's typically experienced when using self-tanners.

But why risk it with the many clean self-tanning options on the market?

There's nothing wrong with enjoying the sun and getting a healthy glow; however, we can't just ignore the risk of skin damage and cancer. These issues, unfortunately, occur because natural tanning is essentially your skin's response to damage caused by exposure to UV rays that degrade the very DNA of our cells and cause them to malfunction.

Therefore, if you want to look like you just got back from the beach without putting yourself at risk of skin damage, self-tanning is a good alternative. Here's our selection of clean and non-toxic self-tanners that will give you an unmatched glow this summer without a side of skin cancer:

The Beauty by Earth Self Tanner is a popular choice for those seeking an even, streak-free tan without worrying about it transferring onto clothes or sheets. Made with only natural and organic ingredients, such as soothing aloe vera, moisturizing shea butter, skin-softening oils, and naturally-derived DHA, this self-tanner provides a natural-looking tan that lasts for up to a week.

DHA-free and packed with antioxidants, the Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Drops can be used all over the face and will instantly warm up your complexion, serving as a fantastic makeup base or simply as a daily skin pick-me-up.

For the girls who get body acne, they know it can be a real nuisance during summer. So when summer rolls around, you should say goodbye to ultra-nourishing lotions and moisturizers and move toward lightweight, non-comedogenic products that won't clog your pores and cause those pesky breakouts on your chest, back, and bum. And self-tanner isn't an exception, as some heavier formulas can also lead to breakouts, which is why you should go for a water-based formula like the Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs Tanning Water, which is lightweight but also hydrating.

On the other hand, if your skin is dry and needs moisture but you don't want to sacrifice your desired tan by using moisturizers that will make it fade prematurely, you should look no further than the Botanic Tree Sunless Tanning Lotion. Made with ultra-nourishing and antioxidant oils such as moringa, jojoba, passionfruit, and rosemary, and with the added skin-softening shea butter, this self-tanner will give you a streak-free glow while deeply hydrating your skin.

If you prefer being in control of your tan instead of simply applying it and hoping for the best, the Volition Getaway Glow Gradual Tan Firming Body Moisturizer is the perfect choice for you. Infused with peptides and antioxidants to help firm and tone your skin while providing a gradual tanning effect, this ultra-hydrating formula will give you a natural-looking sun-kissed glow that won't look orange or patchy and will slowly develop over a few days, giving you the option to stop applying it when you're satisfied with the results.

Pregnancy can be stressful enough, even without having to worry about the risks of using certain cosmetics. Fortunately, there are many pregnancy-safe self-tanners on the market, such as the Eco Tan Invisible Tan, which is formulated with certified organic ingredients and naturally-derived DHA that won't harm you or your baby. Plus, the product is also free of parabens and artificial fragrances, making it a safe choice for moms-to-be who want to enjoy a glowing tan without exposing themselves or their babies to harmful tanning chemicals.

If you need some sun-kissed color fast, the quick-drying formula of the Tanning Water Mist Bronze will give you a glowing complexion in a pinch. Infused with hydrating cucumber extract, skin-soothing aloe vera, and coconut water for a light and naturally scented effect, this quick-drying mist will instantly leave your skin smooth, silky soft, and with a gorgeous sun-kissed glow that won't rub off onto clothes.

If splurging for a self-tanner isn't part of your budget this month, that certainly doesn't mean that you need to compromise the quality of your glow or expose your skin to damage. Just head to the drugstore and grab the Tanologist Hydrating Gradual Tanning Lotion, which is budget-friendly but also formulated with naturally-derived DHA, natural oils like almond and squalane, and hydrating hyaluronic acid that will leave your skin smooth and glowing.

If you’re sensitive to fragrance, and even the mildest coconut scent that most self-tanners have bothers you, then the Salty Face Tanning Foam is your best option to try. Free of any fragrance and infused with soothing and hydrating ingredients such as cucumber, green tea, chamomile, and aloe vera extracts, this lightweight, transfer-free foam will give you an even and natural-looking tan without any headache or skin irritation.

If you can't stand the heavy and greasy feeling that some more moisturizing self-tanners leave on the skin's surface, then you should opt for a lightweight formula like the Vita Liberata Clear Tanning Mousse. Formulated with 99% lightweight and natural ingredients, such as hydrating glycerin, antioxidant licorice, raspberry, grape, and ginkgo extracts, along with skin-soothing aloe vera, this mousse provides an ultra-lightweight tanning effect that won't leave your skin feeling greasy or sticky. It can also be used by those prone to body acne thanks to the addition of antibacterial witch hazel.

If you're looking for that extra smooth effect in a self-tanner, opting for an oil-based formula is always a good choice. And if you want to get that glow without compromising your skin's health, Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Oil Mist is the perfect option. Enriched with nourishing oils like coconut, squalane, argan, and sage oil, along with anti-inflammatory aloe vera and hydrating glycerin, this oil-based formula will give you a streak-free, natural-looking tan while providing your skin with a deeply moisturizing and softening treatment.