Dihydroxyacetone or DHA is the main component of self-tanning products. Of synthetic or vegetable origin, this sugar turns the skin brown by reacting with the amino acids present in the skin. Are there any dangers associated with its use on the skin? Does this compound have any contraindications?
The Dangers of Dihydroxyacetone (DHA).
- A Few Reminders About DHA: How Does This Molecule Act on the Skin?
- Are There Any Dangers Associated With the Use of DHA? Is DHA Safe?
- Are There Any Side Effects Associated With the Use of DHA?
- DHA Does Not Protect Against UV Rays
A Few Reminders About DHA: How Does This Molecule Act on the Skin?
Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) is a triose, i.e. a simple sugar consisting of 3 carbon atoms. This molecule is dissolved in water and ethanol but not in oil and can be of synthetic or vegetable origin. DHA of natural origin is generally produced by a biotechnological process that involves the fermentation and bacterial bioconversion of glycerol extracted from plants such as beet, corn or rapeseed. The DHA thus obtained is a white crystalline powder. Incorporated into certain skin care products, it provides an artificial tan and a tanned complexion 2 to 6 hours after its application. This effect is the result of the Maillard reaction: DHA reacts with amino acids in the skin to produce melanoidins, which are responsible for the brown color.
Are There Any Dangers Associated With the Use of DHA? Is DHA Safe?
When applied to the skin, DHA is considered non-toxic and safe. No scientific study has proven that DHA penetrates the skin's protective barriers. It should not be contraindicated for pregnant women and is suitable for all skin types. In self-tanning products, DHA is regulated at a maximum concentration of 10%.
The SCCS (Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety) has declared that DHA present in self-tanning products does not present a health risk to the consumer at a maximum concentration of 10% and therefore should be safe.
However, inhalation and ingestion of DHA-based self-tanning products is highly inadvisable. Indeed, it can cause asthma as well as DNA damage and cancer risks.
Are There Any Side Effects Associated With the Use of DHA?
A self-tanner containing DHA can cause irritation if applied to sensitive parts of the body. Therefore, all mucous membranes on the body should be free of self-tanner.
In addition, DHA can dry out the skin and increase its sensitivity to the sun. Note that this characteristic is often counterbalanced in self-tanning formulas by the presence of humectant compounds such as glycerin and/or sugar derivatives. To combat this potentially drying effect, be sure to moisturize your skin daily, morning and night, both on your face and body. The 9-ingredient face moisturizer is enriched with hyaluronic acid and organic coconut oil; it is a minimalist formula that moisturizes and nourishes the epidermis. Its light, non-greasy texture is suitable for dry, normal and combination skin, even sensitive skin. For the body, choose the 10-ingredient moisturizing body cream, which moisturizes all skin types, even sensitive.
Note: As with any new skin care product, a test in the crook of the elbow is recommended before applying a DHA-based self-tanner to the face and/or body. This will detect any intolerance to the product or molecule in question.
DHA Does Not Protect Against UV Rays.
It is important to note that melanoidin is different from melanin. Melanoidin is only produced on the surface, so it is eliminated once the skin cells are renewed. Unlike melanin, this molecule has no protective power against the sun's UV rays. Always remember to protect your skin with a broad-spectrum sunscreen to avoid the deleterious effects of UV rays.
KOCHEVAR I. E. & al. Factors influencing sunless tanning with dihydroxyacetone. British Journal of Dermatology (2003).
Opinion on dihydroxyacetone. Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (2010).