Three products for a radiant, customizable tan — without UV rays

Three products for a radiant, customizable tan — without UV rays

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Odeur autobronzants.

Where Does the Characteristic Smell of Self-Tanners Come From?

Self-tanners are indispensable for obtaining a naturally tanned complexion without exposing yourself to the sun. Although the texture has been improved so as not to dry out the skin, and the often dreaded orange color is now under control, the "bad" smell that self-tanners give off still puts off some consumers. What is the reason for this? What improvements have been made in this regard?

Self-Tanner – The Characteristic Smell Is Related to the Formulation

Many people complain about the chemical and pungent smell of self-tanning products. This smell is due to the formulation of the self-tanner and comes from the main active ingredient responsible for giving the skin a sunny glow: Dihydroxyacetone (DHA). More specifically, it is the Maillard reaction of DHA with the amino acids of the stratum corneum that gives the unpleasant odor so typical of self-tanners. In this process, volatile and odorous compounds, including heterocycles, are released before melanoidins are formed chemically after polymerization.

Is it possible to mask the development of this unpleasant odor?

These odors associated with DHA are practically absent today thanks to the advances made by brands. Some self-tanning products have a fairly neutral odor thanks to odor-binding ingredients or masking agents (e.g. zinc ricinoleate, etc.). They have the ability to absorb odor molecules. Others add fragrances and essential oils to the formula to mask the evaporation associated with dihydroxyacetone. However, in this case, it is not mandatory to mention the perfuming details in the INCI list, except for the allergenic substances registered in Annex III of the Cosmetic Regulation. As a precautionary measure, especially if you have sensitive skin, you should still avoid them.

Our self-tanning formulas do not emit a terrifying odor when applied. No masking agents, essential oils or perfumes have been added to mask the smell.

Why Should DHA Be Used in Self-Tanning Formulas?

Although there are other self-tanning molecules (erythrulose, troxerutin, etc.), DHA is still the most effective when applied topically and is therefore the most commonly used. Erythrulose works like DHA, but slower and does not have the same color intensity. As for Troxerutin, it does not develop the desired tanning effect when used alone. Tyrosine derivatives alone are not able to give the skin a strong and long-lasting coloration.

DHA is a sugar that interacts with the amino acids of the corneocytes in the top layer of the epidermis, producing brown pigments called melanoidins on the skin. They temporarily give the skin a “tanned” appearance, all without the risk of photodamage (melanoma, brown spots, photoaging, sunburn...).


  • MARTINI M.-C. Autobronzants et bronzants artificiels. Annales de Dermatologie et de Vénéréologie (2017).


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