closeup on smiling young woman applying tanning lotion

Tanning lotion with bronzer is a popular choice among people who want dark, tanned skin. The bronzer makes skin appear darker, which adds to an existing tan. There is more than one type of bronzer, and different types work in different ways. All bronzers are safe and work well to darken the skin. While the user has to be careful during application, bronzers generally are easy to use even for a novice at applying tanning lotions.


Bronzers may contain either natural pigments or dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA is an amino acid, and it comes from sugar cane. The FDA approves DHA as a safe and effective way to darken the skin. Natural pigments are not harmful, either. Both work at the top layer of the skin to alter the color. Natural pigments dye the skin. DHA causes a chemical reaction that turns dark when exposed to protein in skin.


Bronzers in tanning lotions amplify a tan by making it darker. Bronzers give a darker tan in less time and with less exposure to sunlight. Less exposure to sunlight results in a slightly smaller risk of cancer from sun exposure. Bronzers usually contain some type of protection from sun, although the SPF is usually much lower than necessary to block much of the sun's UVA and UVB rays.


While there are no health risks associated with bronzer, applying it carefully is necessary. Sloppy application can cause streaks or uneven color. Bronzer also discolors clothing, so be aware that it may leave pigment on any fabric that comes in contact with bronzer before washing it off. Wearing dark clothing and avoiding over-applying the product reduces the likelihood of ruining clothing with bronzer.


Bronzer has to stay on the skin for several hours after applied. This is because bronzers continue to penetrate and darken the skin for up to eight hours after application. Remember to do a thorough hand washing after applying a tanning lotion with bronzer to ensure that palms don't turn orange.


Exposure to UVA and UVB rays is dangerous. It is a risk factor for skin cancer, especially when exposure occurs frequently and for prolonged periods of time. Tanning with a bronzer may help darken the skin faster, but the sun exposure from any amount of tanning can cause extensive damage. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher to prevent skin damage.