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Dihydroxyacetone and sunless tanning: Knowledge, myths, and current understanding

      Sunless tanning products, which contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA), produce a relatively long-lasting simulated tan without the risks of photodamage. DHA is a sugar that interacts with proteins in the skin to form brown-colored products called melanoidins.
      • Nguyen B.C.
      • Kochevar I.E.
      Factors influencing sunless tanning with dihydroxyacetone.
      This reaction is limited to the stratum corneum, and in vitro skin absorption studies have found no significant systemic absorption of DHA when applied topically to the skin.
      • Yourick J.J.
      • Koenig M.L.
      • Yourick D.L.
      • et al.
      Fate of chemicals in skin after dermal application: does the in vitro skin reservoir affect the estimate of systemic absorption?.
      In this Commentary, we review current misconceptions among the lay media and general public about the established risks of DHA-containing sunless tanning products, as well as US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved guidelines for their proper use.

      Key words

      Abbreviations used:

      DHA (dihydroxyacetone), FDA (US Food and Drug Administration)
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        • Yourick D.L.
        • et al.
        Fate of chemicals in skin after dermal application: does the in vitro skin reservoir affect the estimate of systemic absorption?.
        Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2004; 195: 309-320
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