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Ask Val: Is It Safe to Use Self-Tanner Year-Round?
Q: Is it safe for me to use self-tanner lotion year-round?
A: Those long, lazy weekend afternoons, the balmy evenings, the flattering fake glow—I, too, find it hard to relinquish the joys of summer. And I'm happy to tell you that as far as your tan goes, you don't have to. There's no health-related reason to quit using self-tanner lotion after the beach has closed, says Ava Shamban, MD, author of Heal Your Skin. The active ingredient, dihydroxyacetone, is simply a sugar that reacts with amino acids in the skin's outermost layer, darkening it; the color fades gradually as that skin sloughs off. Just be sure, if you're using an aerosolized self-tanner rather than a lotion, that you protect your lips and eyes and avoid inhaling the product, says cosmetic chemist Mort Westman, president of Westman Associates.
Keep in Mind: If you have psoriasis or rosacea (or another skin condition), test a small area before you apply self-tanner; the color can concentrate on the affected skin, making it look more pronounced.
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