Does Hyaluronic Acid Darken Skin?

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Hyaluronic acid is a popular ingredient and seems to be in everything — including even some tanning products! But why is it there?

Does hyaluronic acid darken skin? What does hyaluronic acid have to do with tanning?

Hyaluronic acid doesn’t darken the skin on its own. However, it is a good product to use when you are self-tanning and is included in many self-tanning products. Hyaluronic acid is an excellent moisturizer that will keep dry skin at bay, and make your self-tan last longer.

In this article, I’ll go over what hyaluronic acid does and how it relates to tanning and darkening skin. Plus we’ll discuss why you should definitely use it when you are planning to use self-tanners. 


What Does Hyaluronic Acid Do?

CeraVe Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Hyaluronic acid is a common ingredient in various skin care products. The main function of hyaluronic acid is to help in maintaining moisture on the skin. 

As a humectant, it draws or attracts moisture and is able to hold it. HA is one of the most efficient ingredients that can hold a lot of moisture. 

When applied properly to the skin, over time, it can help moisturize the skin and avoid dryness and dehydration that could cause your skin to flake off or peel. This will make the skin look and feel smoother and softer, and younger. 

Apart from hydration, hyaluronic acid is known to help in the process of tissue regeneration so that your skin can heal. This is crucial when it comes to healing wounds, dealing with acne, and preventing the signs of aging. 

Does Hyaluronic Acid Darken Skin?

Although there are many things that could cause your skin to darken, hyaluronic isn’t one of them. It doesn’t lead to the production or activation of melanin, nor does it react with your skin cells to produce darker skin. 

Although there are many things that could cause your skin to darken, hyaluronic isn’t one of them.

However, it is still a useful product when it comes to tanning.

Many tanning enthusiasts team up their favorite tanning products with hyaluronic acid (and many companies add HA to their self-tanners). 

They do this to help the results of the tanning products last longer.

Self-tanners work by dying the skin using the chemical DHA, which has an oxidizing effect on the skin cells — especially the top layers. This is the reason why the top layer of the skin appears darker after a coating of self-tanner. 

The skin naturally sheds the top layer at regular intervals. That’s why the results you get from self-tanners fade pretty quickly. Usually, the tan you get out of a spray tan or self-tanners will only last for about a week to 10 days.

Self-tanning involves coating the skin with a thin layer of self-tanner chemical (usually DHA) and letting it sit for hours. This allows the self-tanner enough time to cause a reaction with the skin cells and darken it.

Although it will cause the skin to darken, the self-tanner will dry the skin as well. When the skin is dry and flaky, the cells on the topmost layer of the skin will shed more quickly — and take your tan with them!

When the skin is dry and flaky, the cells on the topmost layer of the skin will shed more quickly — and take your tan with them!

When these skin cells shed quickly or unevenly due to dryness, your tan could fade faster, or can end up looking uneven and patchy

Of course, you want to avoid that! And you want to prolong the beautiful glowing tan that you have due to self-tanners.

That is where hyaluronic acid comes into the picture. 

Due to being an efficient hydrating agent, using hyaluronic acid after using the self-tanner could help hydrate the skin so that it doesn’t become dry. Even after the reaction between the skin and the self-tanner is already done, the use of hyaluronic acid is still important. 

By hydrating the skin properly, you can slow the shedding of that top layer of skin. Although eventually, the layer of skin that has reacted with the DHA in the self-tanner would eventually shed.

Hyaluronic acid can’t keep your tan forever, but it can help make it last longer.

Tanning Products that Contain Hyaluronic Acid

Here are a couple of examples of tanning products that contain hyaluronic acid in the formula.

1. St.Tropez Gradual Tan Classic Daily Firming Lotion 

ST TROPEZ Self Tan Purity Vitamins Bronzing Water Face Serum, Natural Sunkissed Glow Face Tan, Vitamin C & D, Vegan, Natural & Cruelty Free Face Care, 1.69 Fl Oz
  • Infused with Vitamin C and D boosters to...
  • Enriched with 93% natural skin caring...
  • Apply directly or mix the natural face...

St. Tropez is one of the best brands out there when it comes to tanning lotions. And this gradual tanning lotion is a great product that darkens the skin and rejuvenates it, too! It contains hyaluronic acid to moisturize the skin and help keep your tan rocking for as long as possible.

2. Beauty By Earth Face Tanning Serum 

Face Tanner Serum - Medium to Dark Sunless Tanner for Face Sunless Tanner with Hyaluronic Acid - Self Tanner for Face Self Tan - Natural Face Tanner for Face Self Tanner
  • SELF TANNERS: Beauty by Earth has...
  • TWO COLOR OPTIONS: Our gradual self...
  • LOVE IT OR LET US KNOW: We are sure you...

Beauty By Earth is yet another outstanding tanning brand, and I’m a big fan of their gradual self tanners. This clean face tanning serum is a mild self-tanner that hydrates your skin with hyaluronic acid, and darkens it over the next 4-6 hours.

Other Things You Should Do To Help With Your Tan

Apart from keeping your skin moisturized with hyaluronic acid, there are also other things that you can do to help make sure that the results of your tan last longer. They are as follows:

1. Exfoliate Before Getting A Tan

Exfoliation before fake tanning helps remove the older skin cells that are going to fall off anyway. When you exfoliate, you expose newer skin cells that react to the tanning product. That way you don’t only have a tan that last but a tan that is even. 

See this article on How To Exfoliate Before A Spray Tan or Fake Tan for more.

2. Avoid Exfoliants After Getting A Tan

Although it is great to exfoliate before getting a tan, too much exfoliation after getting your tan will do the opposite. You want to make sure the cells reacted on the stick to your body longer so avoid exfoliating for a few days after getting your tan.

3. Keep The Skin Hydrated

Using hyaluronic acid isn’t the only way to keep the skin hydrated. You should be drinking enough fluids to keep the body hydrated.

That will make sure that the skin has adequate moisture.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).