The idea of a fake tan may seem like a strange idea to some people -- but with the threat of skin cancer always on the horizon, faking a suntan can be a healthier option. Because skin-darkening moisturizers help your skin retain water, they keep your skin healthy while making you look good. They're also designed to give skin a more subtle, natural color than other self-tanning methods [source: Quenqa].
A quick glance at most skin-darkening moisturizers' labels reveals that they contain many of the same ingredients as other lotions and moisturizers. They often include emollients and humectants that moisturize the skin, such as jojoba oil and urea, and they typically contain botanical ingredients and vitamins A, C and E, which nourish the skin [source: New Beauty Magazine].
However, what makes these moisturizers unique is their ability to give skin a summer glow. A major ingredient found in many skin-darkening products is dihydroxyacetone, also known as DHA. It's a colorless chemical that produces a brown tone when it reacts with amino acids on the outermost layer of the skin [source: Mann]. Because skin is constantly shedding dead cells on the skin's surface, the color lasts about five days before DHA needs to be applied again. Erythrulose is another skin-darkening ingredient you may find listed on a bottle of skin-darkening moisturizer. It's often used as an alternative to DHA -- DHA can give skin an orange tint. However, DHA is the only sunless tanning ingredient approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. [source: CNNhealth.com].
Now that you've learned how skin-darkening moisturizers work, read on to learn how they differ from self-tanners.