Tourism Queensland

Let’s face it, we all want to be bronzed Brazilian goddesses (like that time many years ago when I did a campaign for Gold Coast Tourism) Ohh the joys of being in your twenties….  For most of us, that can only happen if we are willing to risk getting skin cancer and are happy to head down the path of eventually being compared to a leather handbag OR by applying some sort of fake tan.


the options:

  • Bake in the sun the old fashioned way
  • Lie in a metal cocoon sporting cray cray goggles
  • Stand naked in a box holding your breath and doing some weird poses while stuff sprays out of the walls
  • Stand in a g-string while a person sprays you with fake tan, casually chatting about your day as you hold your arms in the air so they can make sure they get right in under your boobs (depending on your age!)
  • Get yourself some fake tan lotion and attempt to apply it as evenly as possible at home (at the risk of not being able to blame anyone else if it goes streaky!)
  • Spray yourself with some bronzer 2 seconds before walking out the door


sky vodka close

I can honestly say that I have done all of the above too many times to count and was a bit of a spray tan addict back in the day (eg. in the above Gold Coast Tourism ad & Skyy Vodka ad).

Of course these days I can’t begin to imagine the effects that jumping in to one of those spray tan booths actually does to your body…just imagine how much of that stuff gets in to your lungs?!  A friend of mine owns a tanning salon and she ended up in hospital with all sorts of problems one New Years from breathing in so much of it during such a busy period.

And we all know that 15 minutes a day of sunshine is actually very good for us but that’s not enough to really tan it up.

So I’ve been checking out Eco Tan.  I’ve been using it for a couple of months now and I love it.  It works.  I’ve got a tube of Invisible Tan, which is a moisterising cream that gradually goes darker so there is less chance of turning a dramatic orange overnight!  In fact, there are no orange tones in Eco Tan as the colouring agent is derived from cacao.  It’s a lovely golden colour and I don’t notice it coming off either – it doesn’t go patchy.

But it has that familiar fake tan smell about it so I did some research.  I wanted to know just how ‘eco’ and ‘organic’ it really was and of course I wanted to make sure it was 100% vegan.


vegan ingredients

Let’s start with the vegan side of things, because we all know how important that is to me.  Harm myself with a few chemicals here or there (though preferably not!) but never harm another.  🙂  There are a number of ingredients that could come from an animal source and the lovely people at Eco Tan checked each ingredient with their chemist.  The results are below:

Stearic Acid – derived from natural occurring (i.e. non-GMO) vegetable oils

Glyceryl Stearate – derived from natural occurring (i.e. non-GMO) coconut and palm kernel oil

Glycerin – vegetable derived

Cetyl Alcohol – derived from natural occurring (i.e. non-GMO) coconut and palm kernel oil


active ingredient

Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) is the main ingredient responsible for the tanning effect in all fake tans.  It’s not a dye or stain, it is actually a colourless 3-carbon sugar that when applied to the skin causes a chemical reaction with amino acids in the surface cells of the skin producing a darkening effect.   According to most of the research and articles that I have come across, DHA does not damage skin or get right down in to the bloodstream or organs as it only affects the outermost cells of the epidermis.  It has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the US but for outside use only – it should not be inhaled or ingested (so I would stay clear of spray tans).

I did come across an investigation by ABC in the US which suggested that DHA could possibly alter our DNA but from what I understand, these studies were not actually conducted on humans.   The Skin Cancer Foundation says that, “While some recent research has questioned the safety of DHA tanning, the evidence is not convincing enough to change The Skin Cancer Foundation’s position that it is a safer, better alternative to UV tanning.  Although it temporarily adheres to the skin, DHA eventually dislodges as the skin cells shed.”

Another study that I came across has suggested that the skin is especially susceptible to free-radical damage from sunlight for 24 hours after the application of self-tanners with particularly high levels of DHA, so best to stay out of the sun straight after application.

If you would like to read more about the potentially harmful effects of DHA, check out these sites that I came across:

ABC News story

No More Dirty Looks article


ingredients to watch out for

Many fake tans on the market contain artificial fragrances, parabens and other nasties that can be linked to everything from cancer to endocrine problems.  From what I can gather with the research I’ve done online, there are also synthetic forms of DHA which can penetrate deeper in to the skin which should be avoided.  This is where you can choose better alternatives and go for more natural options.


so what’s a girl to do?

I would recommend that if you want to tan, then go with an organic and natural one that doesn’t contain dyes, fragrances, parabens, etc.  A good way to check if the tanning product you have at home might have some of these nasties, is to check the ingredients list but also check the colour of the product – if it’s a brown colour then it’s got some dyes in it.  If the product is claiming to go darker in a speedy time frame (the usual development time is about 8hrs) then be wary as it may contain chemicals that can help the product to penetrate deeper in to the skin.

After looking in to every ingredient that can be found in Eco Tan, I feel comfortable and confident that it is the safest option, 100% vegan and gives a beautiful, natural colour.  Of course it’s always up to you to do your own research and go with what feels best for you.  🙂