Bronzers vs. Sunless Tanners

As more of the dangers of sun tanning become known, more and more people are turning to products that provide the color of a tan without any of the sun damage. Thousands of different products are available to help tan your skin without exposing yourself to harsh UV rays. These products tend to come in two different, distinct types:

  • Sunless Tanners
  • Bronzers

Though occasionally these two types of tanning products are used interchangeably, they are actually quite different, and perform very different actions on your skin.

What Are Bronzers?

Bronzers are the most temporary form of tanner available. In many ways bronzers are a type of “skin makeup.” Bronzers are placed on your skin to immediately give your skin a dark glow. Bodybuilders use bronzers to quickly darken their skin for events, while men and women use bronzers when they want to try to get a tan for special events.

Bronzers start washing away the first time you take a shower, and most of the color will fade away after the first day. Within two or three days, there is usually no trace of the bronzer remaining.

What Are Sunless Tanners?

Sunless tanning products work quite differently. Using an ingredient known as DHA, sunless tanners cause a chemical reaction in your skin that stimulates color change, causing your skin to actually be a tan color, rather than simply be painted in a tan color.

Sunless tanners come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. Tanning salons have sunless tanning sprays available for those that are interested in having it done professionally. At-home tanning products like lotions and foams are also available for those that would prefer to take self tanning into their own hands. Still, all of these products use the same type of DHA base, so the effect on the skin is generally the same even if the method of application is different.

Sunless tanners are designed for long term use, though like bronzers they still need to be reapplied regularly. While bronzers wash away in the shower, sunless tanners change the color of the top layer of your skin, so the tans fade when you start to shed those layers. They are more comfortable than bronzers and the tans tend to appear more natural. They are not always as useful for rapid tanning however.

Which is Better?

Sunless tanners and bronzers are not the same thing – though some companies market them as though they were. Bronzers are best when you simply want to add color for a specific reason. Some people use bronzers while they are getting their sun tan in order to give off the appearance of a tan while they are building their tan during the summer.

Sunless tanners are used when someone is planning on avoiding the sun, and simply allowing their tan to be the result of a sunless tanning product. Because they do not “wash away” they are far more ideal for long term use.

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