Do you wish to get that perfect tanning skin tone without going out into the sun? Do you know that you do not have to expose yourself to harmful UV rays to get a long-lasting tan?

At least that’s the goal with self-tanning drops. But we’ll explore what self-tanning drops actually are, whether they work, and what risks come with using them.

What Are Self-Tanning Drops? 

Self-tanning drops are concentrated solutions that can come in a dropper bottle. You can apply it to other cosmetic products like moisturizers, lotions, and serums. Tanning drops can easily blend into your daily skincare routine.

You can directly apply it to your skin at any time of the day. You can use it daily, weekly, or only during parties depending upon your choice and requirement.

Blend the tanning drops with your moisturizer or lotion before applying them to get the sun-kissed bronze appearance skin tone.

There are many benefits of using self-tanning drops over traditional tan products.

For starters, you have more control over the depth of your tan. You can choose the quantity of tan serum you want to mix with your moisturizer/lotion.

Secondly, it is a safe method of self-tanning as you are not exposed to harmful UV light, unlike sunbathing or sunbeds.

How Do Self-Tanning Drops Work? 

Self-tanning drops work similarly to other tanning products on the market. It has Dihydroxyacetone, commonly known as DHA or glycerone, which is usually the key ingredient in your tanning lotions, gels, sprays, etc. It is made from sugar cane or beets and is a color additive that reacts with your skin tone. And gives you a darker shade temporarily [3].

These tanning drops are non-toxic and natural and have no adverse effect on your skin. The reason being DHA penetrates only the top layer of the skin, i.e., on the dead skin cells.

Remember to apply sunscreen before going out in the sun.

Benefits of Self Tanning Drops

There are several benefits that self-tanning drops offer.

  • Self-tanning drops are travel friendly as they usually come in small packets.
  • You can get a glowing look even with a few drops.
  • The bottles are space efficient and have a long shelf life. A small bottle can last up to weeks.
  • It has ingredients that keep your skin hydrated.
  • It requires no sun and works well for all.
  • They do not leave any lines on your skin.
  • It has no specific smell.
  • They are quick to apply.
  • It is hassle-free and can be included daily in your routine.

Always buy tanning products suitable for your skin.

How to Use Self-Tanning Drops?

Self-tanning is gaining a lot of popularity nowadays. It saves a lot of time and can give you a natural, safe, and long-lasting tanning look. However, knowing how to use it accurately to get a streak-free tan is essential.

Follow the steps below to get a nice bronzed glow.   

1. Prepare Your Skin

The first step is to prepare your skin so that the tan on your skin looks soft and smooth. Cleanse your face with a good scrub cleanser to resurface your skin, and there are no patches.

Also, remove any unwanted hair on your skin before applying tanning drops. Otherwise, you may ruin your tanning glow.

2. Mix Your Drops in Moisturiser

Blend the tanning drops in any lightweight moisturizer of your choice. Try to use fragrance and dye-free moisturizer.

You can add 5-10 drops as per your choice. The more drops you add, the darker tan will be.

3. Apply the Tan

Mix your moisturizer properly. Now apply your blended tan onto your skin in a circular motion starting from the face. Apply slowly and evenly to avoid any demarcation lines.

Wash your hands afterward.

4. Wait for the Tan to Blend on Your Skin

It usually takes approximately 4 hours to fully develop the color onto your skin. Also, you must avoid applying water to the area you have tanned. You should apply a tan at night.

Follow the instruction carefully to get the best results.

5. Moisturize your Skin

Apply moisturizer twice a day to keep your skin hydrated. Dry skin may lead the tan to fade or become patchy.

6. Reapply the Tan

Tanning is not a one-time process. Add a few drops to your moisturizer and reapply after a few days to keep a fresh and glowing look.

Are Self-Tanning Drops Effective?

Self-tanning drops are quite effective. It usually takes 4 hours to develop, but you can see a significant difference the next day. The skin gets time to react to the tanning formula.

To get a natural and gradual development of tan, you should apply only a few drops daily. It may take up to 3-4 days to show results and give you a more natural look.

Each skin type and the time it takes to regenerate new cells differ. Therefore the effectiveness of tan varies from individual. However, on average, it usually stays 4-10 days, depending upon the brand and the number of drops applied in a day. The effectiveness of tan also varies on external factors like hydration, skin maintenance, sun exposure, etc.

Are Self-Tanning Drops Harmful?

The self-tanning drops are safe. However, it has some downsides.

1. Lowers Production of Vitamin D

According to a study, regular use of self-tanning products may reduce vitamin D production [1]. Vitamin D is important to keep bones and muscles healthy.

2. Irritation in Skin

Self-tanning can irritate the skin. According to a study, regular application can cause the medical condition dermatitis and damage stratum corneum [2].

3. Trigger in Generating Free Radicals

Applying tanning drops regularly can generate free radicals. The UV rays will make the DHA unstable and generate more free radicals if exposed to the sun without sunscreen.

Bottomline: Self-Tanning Drops Benefits and Side Effects

Self-tanners have become a popular alternative to tanning outdoors. It is a simple procedure that can be done at home by adding 5-10 drops to your regular moisturizer.

The process is safe and natural, and the color is temporary. However, regular use may lead to some downsides.

Consult a dermatologist if you face any skin issues.

Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.

Editorial References and Fact Checking

  • Armas LA, Fusaro RM, Sayre RM, Huerter CJ, Heaney RP. Do melanoidins induced by topical 9% dihydroxyacetone sunless tanning spray inhibit vitamin d production? A pilot study. Photochem Photobiol. 2009 Sep-Oct;85(5):1265-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-1097.2009.00574.x. Epub 2009 May 28. PMID: 19496990.
  • Kimura T. Contact dermatitis caused by sunless tanning treatment with dihydroxyacetone in hairless descendants of Mexican hairless dogs. Environ Toxicol. 2009 Oct;24(5):506-12. doi: 10.1002/tox.20456. PMID: 19016307.
  • Levy SB. Dihydroxyacetone-containing sunless or self-tanning lotions. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1992 Dec;27(6 Pt 1):989-93. doi: 10.1016/0190-9622(92)70300-5. PMID: 1479107.
  • Mayo Clinic Q and A: There’s no such thing as a safe, healthy tan. (2017, May 31). Mayo Clinic News Network. Retrieved September 6, 2022, from
  • <a href=”/taxonomy/term/819″ hreflang=”en”>Office of the Commissioner</a>. (2015, December 18). Indoor Tanning: The Risks of Ultraviolet Rays. U.S. Food And Drug Administration. Retrieved September 6, 2022, from

With her Master in Business Adminstration (MBA), Sarika has explored numerous industries and picked up valuable experiences and skills along the way. She is now a professional content writer and meditation instructor who enjoys helping and empowering people to get deeper in touch with their physical, mental, and emotional wellness. Sarika also has experience as a social media manager and research and marketing professional, which equips her to communicate effectively through her articles. LinkedIn