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Many people find that having a tan makes them feel more attractive and gives them a healthy glow. However, most people do not have time to sunbathe consistently and need help to achieve and maintain an even tan. Tanning beds are a popular option, but using them can be expensive and time consuming. There are a variety of products that claim to accelerate, maximize or boost your tan. Some of the products refer to themselves as "bronzers."

The Difference between Maximizers and Bronzers

Tan maximizers are products that are designed to chemically assist your skin in the tanning process. They are generally sold as lotions, though there are some maximizers sold as dietary supplements. Bronzers alone are designed to topically add color to your skin and therefore produce only temporary results. In many tan maximizers, bronzers are added to provide instant color. The effects of tan maximizers are not immediate, and some work better than others.

Differences between Maximizers

There are dozens of products available that are designed to boost the tanning process. Each product has a name for their formula, but they generally boil down to two main approaches. Some products use the enzyme glucose tyrosinase to encourage an increase in the skin's production of melanin, the pigment in skin that provides its color. Other products use dihydroxyacetane (DHA) or erythrulose, both of which react with the keratin in top layer of the skin. The reaction results in a darkening of the dead layer of skin.

Do Maximizers Work?

While tyrosinase in the body is responsible for starting the production of melanin, the topical use of the enzyme through lotions has yet to show sound evidence of its effectiveness. DHA and erythrulose are reliably effective in darkening the top layer of skin. Developed in the 1970s, the product often made people orange, and though the formula has been dramatically improved, an undesirable orange coloring is still a risk.

When to use Bronzers

Bronzers are topical compounds that are as simple to use as powder blush. Bronzers come in many shades and colors to match skin types, but most bronzers are bronze colored and have a shimmery finish. Brushing bronzer on your face, shoulders, neck and decolletage provides instant color and glow and maximizes what tan you have. With bronzers, a little goes a long way, but if you overdo it, just wash it off and try again.

About the Author

Paula McCullough

Paula McCullough began freelance writing in 2011. With experience in accounting and business, she writes for various online publications. McCullough holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in accounting from Chapman University.