What is Self-Tanning Water?

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There’s a new kid on the block in the realm of sunless self-tanners. While fake bake products come in all shapes and sizes, textures, and tints, from mousses, creams, and foams to lotions and made-to-measure drops, tanning waters are the newest tanning product to hit the market.

They are a game-changer that promises less mess, zero streaky lines, and a much quicker application, not to mention extra hydration to leave your skim moth, soft and glowing, unlike most self-tanners that leave your skin feeling dry.

What is self-tanning water? We are going to take a peek into this newest phenomenon of self-tanning to give you the lowdown on tanning waters to see what the fuss is all about.


What is Self-Tanning Water?

St Tropez Self Tanning Water

Okay so it’s the latest craze everyone is going on about, but what is self-tanning water?

Self-tanning water is a clear spray that blends water with moisturizing ingredients and dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which is the active ingredient in almost all self-tanners.

It is a transparent, lightweight, and skin-hydrating formula that will gradually develop over a few hours. The end result is softer skin and a golden glow.

Tanning waters can be used on both the face and the body.


How Does Tanning Water Work?

Jergens Tanning Water

Like most self-tanners, the active ingredient in tanning water is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). Regardless of the other ingredients in any self-tanning formula, it’s DHA that’s responsible for the temporary tanning of the skin.

DHA works by creating a chemical reaction with dead cells on the skin’s surface layer to temporarily darken the skin and simulate a tan.

While it’s the DHA that actually gives you a tanned look, tanning waters also contain hydrating ingredients that are often lacking in traditional self-tanners.

We’ve covered how tanning water works more deeply here.

The Difference Between Tanning Water and Other Self-Tanners

When it comes to comparing tanning water to other self-tanners, there are some similarities. They both use DHA to give you a temporary tanned look that develops gradually. And they are both safer options than tanning in the sun (and definitely safer than using a tanning bed!).

This is where the similarities end.

There are some key differences between tanning water and other self-tanners that have catapulted tanning water to the top of the list of ‘must-have’ beauty products that have those who’ve tried it, singing its praises.

There are four main differences between tanning water and other self-tanners:

Tanning Water is Transparent

while most other self-tanners use a cosmetic bronzer in addition to DHA, tanning waters are clear, do not stain clothes or bedding, making them the perfect tanning products to wear either overnight or throughout the day before a big event.

Because it’s transparent, it won’t stain your clothes or bed sheets after you’ve applied it.

Tanning Water is Light Weight

because of the texture and viscosity of tanning waters, they quickly absorb into the skin and don’t clog pores or feel heavy on the skin making them perfect for all skin types. This also makes them perfect for use on the face and body, so you don’t need more than one product for specific areas.

Tanning Water is Hydrating

Traditional self-tanners are known for leaving your skin feeling tight and dry. Tanning waters have skin-hydrating ingredients that moisturize while they tan.

No waiting!

Once you’ve applied tanning water, you’re ready to go. There’s no awkward waiting around naked for the product to dry for fear of staining anything you come into contact with. It’s both fast-drying and won’t stain your clothes.

How do you use self tanner water?

Using tanning water is not so different than using a self-tanner. Let’s break it down.

1.   Prep

If you are going to shave or wax, do it at least 24 hours prior to application.

Ensure skin is exfoliated with a dry brush or scrub. Exfoliating will give your skin an even surface so the final result will be even and it will fade evenly like a natural tan.

Remove any makeup, skin products, and deodorant. Avoid using any cleansing products that are oil-based because the oil will act as a barrier and prevent the tanning water from absorbing into the skin.

2.   Don’t be shy! And use an applicator mitt.

Apply the tanning water liberally. Your skin should be saturated. Once applied, take an applicator mitt and sweep the product all over the skin to blend.

Because there are no color additives or cosmetic bronzers added to tanning waters, like most self-tanners, you have to stay focused and be sure to blend the tanning water in all over because you won’t see if you’ve missed a spot.

And although it’s transparent, the DHA will color your hands (eventually) if you are using them to spread it, so it’s best to use a mitt.

3.   Spritz

For a golden complexion, spritz your face like you would with a normal face mist and lightly blend.

4.   You’re ready to go!

Unlike other self-tanners where you have to wait around for it to dry, tanning water absorbs quickly and you are ready to go almost as soon as you’re finished.

Which Tanning Water Should I Get?

Over the past few years, several companies have begun producing excellent tanning waters. We’ve put together these Tanning Water Reviews to help guide your selection.

Take Away

Tanning waters are the newest self-tanning product to hit the market. And it looks like they are here to stay. They provide all of the benefits of self-tanners – a faster, safer way to get a tan than lying in the sun or using a tanning bed, in the privacy of your own bathroom. 

Tanning water also addresses the drawbacks of using a traditional self-tanner –no staining sheets and clothes, fast-absorbing, lightweight, streak-free (if applied properly), extra hydrating and apply and you’re ready to go!

If you like the look of being tanned, then there is no reason you shouldn’t give tanning water a try.

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).