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  • sun tanWith cases of skin cancer on the rise, more Americans are wising up about sun safety. Put your money where your skin is. Get all the benefits of a beautiful tan without soaking up those harmful rays.

    Sunless-tanning products also known as "self-tanners" contain an ingredient called dihyroxyacetone (DHA), a colorless sugar that interacts with dead skin-cells in the epidermis causing the skin to turn a bronze color. The effects of DHA are temporary because as dead cells naturally rub off, your sunless tan will fade, just like a natural tan.

    Tan From a Bottle

    The important difference between a natural tan and a sunless tan is harm from the sun is permanent. Getting a real suntan breaks down the DNA in your skin, but using self-tanners cause no damage at all.

    Self-tanners have come a long way in the cosmetic industry. They are now suited for all skin types and come in a variety of different forms to make the application easier and consistent. Self-tanners come in light, medium and dark tones. People with dry skin can buy self-tanning products that contain moisturizing ingredients and people with oily skin can buy self-tanning products that are alcohol-based. Because the demand for self-tanners is high these days, companies are now creating self-tanners with vitamins, herbal-extracts, antioxidants and alph-hydroxy acids to benefits all ages and skin types.

    If you are not sure which self-tanner is right for you, speak to your dermatologist before making your purchase.

    Buyer Beware

    Don't be misled by products that sound like self-tanning lotions. Avoid products that are called tanning amplifiers, tan accelerators and pills. Tanning amplifiers and accelerators work in conjunction with the sun to create a tan and just as the label says, these products amplify the harmful effects of the sun.

    Whatever you do, never take tanning pills. The Food and Drug Administration has commercially banned tanning pills in the United States. These pills have been associated with a skin condition called uticaria, a serious skin irritation that causes uncontrollable itching and blistering of the skin.

    Not Without Your Lotion

    Don't assume that you are protected from the sun just because your skin turns darker. Most self-tanners do not contain sun protection. When heading outdoors with your great looking "tan," make sure you wear protective lotion with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher.

    What's the difference:Sunscreen vs. sunblock