Meredith loves researching products to see which live up to their claims and which are just hype and a waste of money.
What Are Tan Accelerators?
On my travels across the world, I have seen more than my fair share of men and women sprawled on beaches and stretched out on poolside loungers all in the hope of getting that perfect tan. For some, their two-week vacation from work is spent relaxing and soaking up some sun. In order to speed up the process of achieving a bronzed look, many are now using tan accelerators. These come in various forms, including creams, sprays, drinks, pills, and injections.
Sometimes these accelerators are called melanin producers, as melanin is the pigment in your skin which helps you tan. Those with darker skin have more melanin, so the idea behind using an artificial means of producing melanin is that it will give you darker skin faster.
Ingredients in Tanning Accelerators
Being in the sun or on a sunbed can take its toll on your skin, and it's necessary to keep it supple and nourished. Check that your product also cares for the skin as well. Some of the beneficial oils and hydrants may include:
- Carrot Oil: We all know carrots are good for our health, providing us with vitamin A and Omega 3, which are superb for cell development. They are also great for helping to rejuvenate the skin. Carrot oil not only helps color the skin but is hydrating.
- Coconut Oil: It is almost impossible to go to a health and beauty website and not read something about coconut oil and its many uses. One of the favorites in beauty products and for good reason this thick rich emollient is gentle on sensitive skin. People are using it on their skin, hair, in their cooking and even for their pets!
- Aloe Vera: Every sunbather should have a leaf of aloe vera in the fridge. It cools burns instantly and eases the pain. It's not just for sunburns though as any burn will be soothed by it. When I was living in LA, I always had one of these succulents growing. Depending on your location you may be able to grow one either indoors or outside. It's likely your current tanning lotion or skincare cream has aloe vera as one of its ingredients. It's also seen in many after-sun creams.
- Olive Oil: Used for centuries in cooking it's now coming into its own in beauty products. It is said, you should never use a product on your skin that you wouldn't eat. That makes a lot of sense. We are all aware of the literature in favor of eating a Mediterranean diet and that starts with olive oil. Many of the products containing olive oil will be scented as the smell of the oil on its own, isn't unpleasant to most people.
- Almond Oil: You may have seen almond oil used in soaps before. This is one of my favorites to use in skincare products. I love not only the smell but the feel of it on my skin. It's one of the more gentle oils on the market and unlike mineral oils such as baby oil, I feel good about using it on my skin. Almond oil is found in many European cosmetics and is touted as being effective, gentle and a luxury item.
- Wheat Germ Oil: Relatively new to the skincare market, but an excellent choice in tan accelerators. Any natural oil that is plant-based and less refined is better for the environment and also the skin.
- Cocoa Butter: This has been an ingredient in suntan lotions for as long as I can remember. This comes from the same plant that chocolate is made from, the cacao bean. The butter is pressed from the fermented and roasted beans.
- Henna: If you've never used a tan accelerator before you may be surprised to see this as an ingredient. It's likely you know the name from henna tattoos which are used to decorate the hands of the bride in the Indian culture. It is also a natural ingredient in hair coloring for women with dark hair. It is for that reason, it may be one of the ingredients in your bottle.
Bronzers vs. Fake Tan
Unlike fake tans that wear off quickly and have an orange hue to them, bronzers help kick-start your tan using natural products. Ingredients such as henna or an amino acid sourced from sugarcane called dihydroxyacetone (DHA) will help your skin tan faster. However, unlike fake tan, these need sunlight to work. The UV needed can either be from a sunbed or the sun and you won't be left with orange hands, just a lovely golden-brown color.
Tanning Shots or Melanin Injections
To get your body to produce more melanin, tanning injections are available; however, many of the clinics and health spas that give these injections are not licensed. There have been reports of people having headaches after getting these injections, and the risk of contaminated needles is also a consideration.
Some people believe that having a tanning injection is a better way to have an even all-over tan, without having to spend time in the sun or on a sunbed. You have no way of finding out exactly what you are being injected with or even if it's safe! Why risk this when topical treatments, which you can control, are a better option?
Speak with your dermatologist or doctor first to get the names of licensed clinics in your area. If there are none, then you are best to steer clear of anyone giving shots to make your skin darker.
Tingle Tanning Creams
There are some people who prefer to use tingle tanning creams. The tingling sensation is caused by methyl Nicotinate or Benzyl. This may cause the skin to redden initially and may last for up to an hour. This is more commonly used by people on sunbeds as opposed to tanning via natural sunlight. The tingling and redness occur because the chemicals draw more oxygen to the skin's surface.
If you have sensitive skin or are sensitive to any of the ingredients, it is best to avoid using this product. If you have any doubts, do a skin test in a small area to see how your body will react to this tingle suntan cream. Don't use on sensitive areas of the body including near the eyes, genital area or nipple area. Also, don't use on broken or irritated skin. If you have any irritation, discontinue use.
Tanning Pills and Drinks
There are pills and drinks on the market which claim they will help you get a tan. The additive used is Canthaxanthin which is a carotene-based ingredient. If you recall from your biology or nutrition classes, carotene is the ingredient in carrots, it's what makes them orange.
For me, to assist with my tanning regime, I prefer to drink carrot juice. I will often blend this with other juices to make it more palatable. I like carrot, orange and banana as a morning smoothie. That way, I know I am getting a good blast of:
- Vitamin A and C
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2017 Meredith Davies
Meredith Davies (author) on April 28, 2017:
I was introduced to the accelerators by a friend who also had a fair complexion. We both continue to use a sunscreen as well. I'm glad you found it interesting, thanks for reading.
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on April 28, 2017:
To be honest, I've never used a tan accelerator. I do like to sit in the sun, but the only colour I get is from the sun. Interesting reading your article though, I've learned something from reading it, thankyou.