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All products that are applied to the skin to enhance the appearance of a tan serve one main purpose – to moisturize the skin. However, there are other considerations to keep in mind when choosing a tanning bed lotion.
A tanning bed lotion differs from both sunscreen and suntan lotions because the tanning bed lotion is designed to accelerate the tanning process so the maximum color can be achieved in the shortest amount of time. Sunscreen lotions are formulated to reflect or chemically absorb the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) tanning rays as much as possible. Suntan lotions may or may not contain a sunscreen but they are not formulated to amplify the already dangerously intense rays of the sun.
The amino acid tyrosine is an ingredient that might be found on the label of a tanning bed lotion since it is believed to stimulate the release of melanin. Melanin’s dark pigment is the color associated with a suntan. A tanning bed lotion that contains tyrosine is most often touted as a tanning accelerator but there is no scientific evidence to support such a claim at this time.
Melanin itself is an ingredient often seen on the label of a tanning bed lotion. It is often found in conjunction with other ingredients included to stimulate the release of melanin, thereby intensifying the tanning effect.
Temporary bronzers may contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which causes a chemical reaction with the amino acids in the skin’s surface cells. A tanning bed lotion that contains DHA will darken the skin in a few hours, serving to jump start the tanning process. The tanned look induced by the DHA in a tanning bed lotion lasts about a week, providing a golden glow until the action of the UV lamps from the tanning bed start to become apparent.
A potential tanning bed lotion ingredient tested widely in Australia is melanotan, a hormone that stimulates the production of melanin. This formulation has not been approved for testing in the United States and should be avoided at this time. However, a tanning bed lotion that contains melanotan is thought to work most effectively when combined with exposure to UV light.
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