27 March 2014

Having the worst luck with Self-Tanners

I used to pride and count myself very lucky not to have allergies. I don't consider myself to have sensitive skin, and can normally try new products out without having to worry about side effects. This is until I tried self-tanners (as I didn't want to die prematurely of skin cancer... although diabetes and high blood pressure don't seem to concern me as much considering the amount of sugar I consume).

The first self-tanner I tried was a St. Tropez one. It was a gradual self-tanner and it worked well. I just wished that it was an instant one. So I tried the St Tropez mousse self tanner. I only put some on my legs and I broke out in a rash. I didn't attribute it to the self-tanner, as I don't normally react to skincare products and didn't react to the gradual one. The rash was unbearably itchy. I went to the doctor, and she said I had extremely dry skin and prescribed a hydrocortisone ointment (Cortic DS Ointment) that stunk like wee. It was meant to help relieve redness, swelling, itching and other skin discomforts. Unfortunately, it didn't work all that well. Side-effects gradually became less severe and took about a week to a week and a half for it to disappear completely.

I then tried a different self tanner. This time it was the Bondi Sands mousse. I reacted to it as well. I had suspicions that the self tanner was the cause, and decided to put it to the test again about 2-3 weeks later after my skin has calmed down. My skin flared up again, and thankfully I had some anti-histamines at hand to help with the itching. It worked so much better than the stupid hyrdocortisone ointment.

I did some research online and found out that DHA is most likely the culprit of my skin flare up. DHA is the ingredient in self tanners that darkens the skin. There are some scary stuff out there about DHA, which may explain why my skin hates it so much. Apparently, DHA may cause DNA damage and cancer. The good news is that DHA tends not to migrate past the dead layer of skin when using self tanners in lotion form. But if you spray tan, the chances that you'll inhale some DHA, which is not good.

This was when I purchased the sensitive St Tropez lotion. I was hoping it would contain less DHA and would thus prevent the severe flare up of my skin. My hopes were short lived, as the side effects were still there. Although, they seemed a bit more bearable than the others (or perhaps I was getting used to it).

Trying not to give up hope on having sun-kissed skin without getting some form of cancer and being plagued by rashes, I looked into organic self-tanners. I have yet to purchase any, as I'm poor (the husband has put me on a budget... I know. The monstrosity!) and I'm not ready to be disappointed yet again. I decided to put my small collection of self-tanners up for sale on my blog (click here) to raise some funds to find the perfect self-tanner that won't create havoc for my skin.

If you have a great self-tanner that you think my skin would love or if you've tried a fantastic organic self-tanner, please let me know!


  1. Sucks when you skin decides it no longer wants to try new products!! I've never tried any Organic tanners, but my all time favourite is Summertan. I haven't done a review but I did find one on Kat's blog (http://kitschsnitch.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/mini-tanning-product-rave-summer-tan.html) which shows the list of ingredients.. not sure what's what but you might :) Good luck in your search xo

    1. I tried summer tan too (forgot to mention in my post)! Allergic to that as well and gave it to my colleague :(

    2. oh bugger... will keep my eyes out for something that might suit, good luck x

  2. I feel your pain with the rashes! Just recently I have developed an allergy to insect repellent but nothing else sets it off...until now.
    I bought Bondi Sands tanning milk because I had always heard good things about the brand and this morning I had a small rash on my wrist but I didn't think anything of it except now (tonight) it has spread to all over both of my arms! I am convinced its the tanning milk because that is the only different thing I have used on my skin in the past few days.
    As you've said, its ridiculously itchy and i don't know how I am going to sleep.
    I have always used Dove Summer Glow and never had an issue so I will be going back to that once this reaction goes down.
    Its just nice to know it isn't just me and I will look into the DHA product you mentioned to see if that could be the cause.