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Consumer Reports: Testing Self-Tanners

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(Photo Credit: CBS)

(Photo Credit: CBS)

(Source: KDKA-TV) Dr. Maria Simbra
Dr. Maria Simbra is an Emmy award-winning medical journalist, who...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Marissa Graham has fair skin that burns easily.

When she wants a tan, she sprays it on.

“I think I look a lot better when I’m tan,” she says. “Once a week, I probably put it on to give myself a little more color.”

Consumer Reports checked out six self-tanners ranging from about $8 to $35.

To test, a panel of volunteers wore patches, so the skin underneath could be used as a reference.

Then, testers applied tanning sprays or lotions to the volunteers’ arms.

All contain dihydroxyacetone, a chemical that reacts with the skin’s outer layer to create a darker color.

“It takes about four hours to really get the full effect,” said Sue Byrne with Consumer Reports. “And then you need a second follow-up application about a day later to get really the deep tan you are looking for.”

When the patches were removed, Consumer Reports experts compared the skin underneath with the skin that was colored.

One lotion produced an orange color that was sometimes streaky. It’s Banana Boat Summer Color self-tanning lotion.

Another problem: odor.

“Some of them didn’t really smell so great,” said Byrne.

But testers did find a favorite: L’Oreal sublime bronze self-tanner mist in medium natural tan.

It gave the most natural-looking results, for around $10 a bottle. When Marissa spray tans, she says you can really see the difference.

“When I wear white dressed in the summer, this kind of makes more contrast that makes me look better,” Graham said.

The active ingredient in self-tanners may temporarily increase skin damage from sunlight for the first 24 hour after application, so you may want to stay out of the sun or wear protective clothing for the first day after using these products.

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