So My Favourite Organic Self-Tanner Contains Formaldehyde + Safe Alternatives

Do you use self-tanners? Do you like the look of tanned skin? I find pale skin really beautiful, pale blondes have something etheric and light about it, pale brunettes look mysterious. Personally I do like to use self-tanners on my skin because a lightly tanned skin feels more "me" -- probably because I grew up in a more sunny place than I live in now and have seen myself without a tan for the first time a couple of years ago.

Since a couple of years I have been using the Lavera Sun Sensitiv self tanning cream, which has an impeccable ingredient list... or so I thought. The November 2015 issue of the Öko Test magazine examined several self-tanning products in a laboratory and found that most contained formaldehyde. This chemical not only is a human carcinogen but also causes a number of other health issues, and is been banned in cosmetics by the EU since 2016. However there are no laws against chemical ingredients that release formaldehyde over time.

The ingredient that is rescponsible for tanning the skin is DHA, which is harmless in itself and even used to enhance the colour of meat. However with time and with warmth DHA gasses of formaldehyde. Of all the self-tanners that Öko tested examine, almost all had too high levels of formaldehyde -- including the organic brands. Most conventional brands also had other problem substances such as allergy-causing perfume, pthalates, parabens, lilial and PEGs.

Luckily there were three self-tanning products that the Öko Test laboratories found that were almost free from formaldehyde -- the one from Douglas and the one from Lavozon (Müller) got the rating of "very good". The one from Yves Roche got an "satisfactory", with points taken away because of the irritating perfume Cumarin, PEGs and aluminium. Next in line came the La Roche-Posey self tanner with a rating of only "sufficient", because of silicones and PEGs.
To prevent the release of formaldehyde all self-tanners that rely on DHA should be stored in a cool place (the fridge) and used up much sooner than their use-by date. I also found a couple of interesting DIY self-tanner recipes, they all contain some kind of fats which should keep the mixture on the skin and off your clothes. let me know if you try them! Other alternative is carrot oil (mixed with other oils).

The full article and the list of the products that were tested can be seen here.

Photo credit:  Alexander Shustov

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