Coco Chanel and the accidental connection to a health glow


In 1923, the French Icon, Coco Chanel spent a little too much time in the sun and accidentally developed a tan. Almost 100 years later tan skin and that healthy Sun kissed glow is more popular than ever. In fact most people now find that they like a bit of a healthy glow all the time.

Long before science had determined the damage that sunbathing caused, we thought having a tan was the optimal of skin health. With beautiful bronze bodies everywhere it was what we all sought.

The tan is truly the one fashion that never seems to go out of style. Celebrities like it, doctors even recommend it and it has been the secret to a youthful glow for many years. Melanie D. Palm MD, the founding director of Art of Skin in Solana Beach, CA and the Assistant Professor at University of California in San Diego has stated that she “personally uses these products and recommend them to my patients as a safe alternative to traditional tanning.” ( In her article she continues to describe the benefits of self-tanning products and breaks down the skin’s molecular reaction to tanning. Either way, Dr. Palm says to “love the skin (color) they are in.” As most of us know, tan skin has the potential to hide skin imperfections such as broken blood vessels, spider veins, and wrinkles. Lucky for us, it also helps to diminish the appearance of cellulite.

Now, let’s fast-forward.  We now know the sun increases premature aging and can even cause skin cancer, which is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can be extremely damaging to your skin. The easiest way to describe this in Layman’s terms is that UVA ages us causing wrinkles and UVB burns us causing brown spots. This is where my love for spray tan comes into play.

The principal tanning agents used in all self-tanning formulas is dihydroxyacetone otherwise known as DHA. This chemical compound does not produce a real tan by increasing the skins melanin levels; rather it creates a tanned appearance by developing a brown color on the surface of the skin. The action of the DHA is limited to the upper layer of skin and involves a reaction between DHA and skin proteins and oxygen that produces the brown compounds. This process is similar to what occurs when you slice open an apple and the surface of the Apple browns when it is exposed to oxygen in the air. The development of color takes anywhere from 2 to 4 hours and the intensity of the color is dependent upon the DHA concentration in the product, as well as one’s individual skin characteristics. The color developed by the DHA usually lasts 5 to 7 days and begins to fade as the top layer of skin naturally exfoliates itself.

DHA solutions take a minimum of sixteen hours to fully develop; however the ideal timeframe is twenty-four hours. Clients will receive the best results if they can avoid bathing until the day after their tanning session, because soap lessens the effectiveness of DHA. Delayed bathing allows the DHA bronzer sufficient time to complete its reaction with the amino acids proteins that are within the skin.

The myth that all spray tans turn you orange is just that…a myth. Period. Mystic tan and other cheaper solutions have left a bad taste in consumer’s mouths and poor color quality on their bodies. Sunless tanning solutions have come a long way since those early days. The active ingredient (DHA) in spray tanning solution has been refined and more importantly the additives in the solution are higher grade. Brand names we recommend are: Norvell, Amber Sun and Versa Spa.

If your family has a history of melanoma or you are fair skinned, or maybe you are worried about premature aging and wrinkles, it would be prudent to not only stay out of the tanning bed, but also stay out of the sun as well. Sunless tanning is a viable option that has the same results without the medical consequences. This is a big deal.

Sometimes important events creep up on us. If you need to get a little color and you only have two days, traditional tanning will not be ideal. Even the day of the event is not too late to be sprayed given you allow the 4-6 hours of “downtime” so the solution sets in properly.

Tanning beds are notorious for leaving tan lines, white pressure points on your back, stripes on your side, and feet that don’t get tan.  With sunless tanning, you need not worry about tan lines because you get sprayed wearing whatever you want based off of your comfort level. Sunless tanning technicians perceive which parts of your body need to be sprayed a little darker to blend with the rest of your body; something a tanning bed could never achieve.

During the Spray-Tan session, the color that is immediately visible is the result of the cosmetic bronzer. Don’t be alarmed when the color washes off during your first shower, this is a normal occurrence. What remains is the DHA bronze tan. To prolong the color, it is important to keep skin moisturized after sunless tanning allowing dry flaky skin to slough off faster. Your goal is to basically slow down your body’s natural exfoliation process.

Some of the bronze color might rub off on your clothes immediately after the tan or on your bed sheets. To minimize the chance of the bronzers transferring to clothing we recommend you wear  loose fitting, dark clothing to your spray-tan session. Try to refrain from physical exertion that could result in sweating until after the twenty-four hour period when you shower. In most cases, because the cosmetic bronzer is water-soluble, the color will come out of the clothing in the washer, however it is important to note bronzers may stain light hair, wool, spandex, Lycra, silk or other fine fabrics. If the spray-tan product comes in contact with your hands or clothing, rinse immediately.

So there you have it! All the benefits of healthy bronze skin with out the dangers of the suns harmful rays. Next week we will talk about how collagen can improve our skin and other benefits.  See you then.