Best DHA Free Self Tanner – Self Tanning Products for Skin Sensitivities

By Tara | Updated: 28/06/2022

Being a staple ingredient in most tanning products, it can be really challenging to find a DHA free self-tanner.

With that said, the beauty market is slowly developing more and more natural fake tan alternatives and DHA free self-tanner options.

In this article, I cover everything you need to know about this tanning ingredient, review two DHA free self-tanning options and provide some naturally derived DHA products if you are open to synthetic alternatives.

What is DHA in Self Tanner?

Before we jump, let’s quickly define what exactly is dihydroxyacetone (more commonly known as DHA).  

Dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, is the most common active ingredient in self-tanners. It is a sugar molecule that comes from plants (like beet sugar or cane sugar) or is synthetically manufactured. It reacts with the amino acids on the top layer of your skin, largely made up of dead skin cells. The result of this chemical reaction is a darker skin pigment, giving you the allusion you have the perfect sun-kissed glow. It typically takes a few hours for this reaction on your skin to take place fully.

Fake Tan Without DHA For Those With Sensitive Skin

Glow Oil by Chemistry Brand

Glow Oil by The Chemistry Brand
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To say the least, it is not easy to find a fake tan product without this active ingredient. One, however, that is 100% DHA-free is Chemistry Brand Glow Oil.

A rarity in the market, this self tanner is suitable for those who have an allergy or experience irritation from products that contain DHA. Rather than DHA, it contains a raspberry-based keto-sugar that develops into a golden gradual natural looking tan. 

It is not a tanning mousse or spray tan but rather a body oil self tanner that will gradually build up from continued applications. If you cringe at the thought of an oil (no one likes to walk around sticky all day!) , then you will be pleased to know that this is a fast-drying dry oil. The oil consistency provides instant radiance and skin nourishment in addition to a gradual tan.

The key features of Chemistry Brand Glow Oil are:

Aussie Bronze Vegan & DHA Free Instant Tan

Aussie Bronze Natural, Vegan & DHA and Silicone Free Instant Tan
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Unlike the Glow Oil, Aussie Bronze Instant Tan gives you an immediate bronzed colour on application. There is no developing time, so you can pretty much apply and walk out the door.

Whether it can be considered a good or bad thing the product washes off in the shower. For those who prefer a self tanner with longer wear that will last for days, this may not be the best option for you. However, it could be a great option for a last minute quick tan for a special event or occasion.

There is a lot to be said about the features of this DHA free self tanner. The formula truly contains no nasties and is perfect for those allergic to chemicals found in most fake tans or are simply opting for more natural products.

The key features of the Aussie Bronze Instant Tan are:

This is a fantastic fake tanning alternative for those who experience rashes or irritation from self tanners that contain DHA.

For those with serious allergies and sensitivities to DHA and other ingredients, it is always recommended to do a patch test prior to applying a product. You never know if a certain product will cause a reaction with your skin type.

Naturally Derived DHA vs. Synthetic DHA

As we mentioned, there are actually two types of DHA used in self tanner ; naturally derived or synthetically manufactured. Let’s explore the difference between the two.

If you’ve ever wondered why self tanners tend to have a distinct and sometimes off-putting smell, that can be attributed to synthetic DHA. It’s important to note that the low concentrations of synthetic DHA that are commonly found in self tanners have not be proven to have any negative health effects. If applied topically, DHA is not able to penetrate the protective barriers of the skin and are not toxic to the individual.

That said, there are options for those are after DHA free self tanners. Natural DHA is derived from natural ingredients such as sugar cane that react to the protein and natural amino acids that are found in the outer layers of the skin to produce a golden glow. Unlike chemical DHA, natural DHA is made to react to the top layers of the skin.

From what I have found on the market, there isn’t a whole choice when it comes to DHA free self-tanner. That’s why Glow Oil is so popular.

However, if you’re looking for Naturally Derived DHA there are a number of amazing self-tanners you can use. Read on below to see my top picks.

3 of the Best Naturally Derived DHA Self Tanners

Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Self Tanner Mousse

Coco & Eve Sunny Honey Bali Bronzing Foam
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This popular self tanner is packed with so many amazing ingredients which bring several benefits beyond a beautiful tan.

Most notably, the Cellushape formula aids in hydrating and firming the skin helping to fight skin ageing and cellulite.

Some other key ingredients include:

This truly is an amazing naturally-derived DHA self-tanning product that does not contain Sulfates, Gluten, Silicone, Parabens and Toxins.

Made in the USA 🇺🇸

MineTan Violet Self Tan Foam

MineTan 1 Hour Express Self Tan Foam
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08/13/2022 05:10 am GMT

MineTan has a pretty extensive range of self-tanners that are all made with naturally derived DHA.

I have personally used the Violet Self Tan Foam before, but they offer a tailored range of shades for most skin types.

The Colour Base Collection allows you to replicate the Mediterranean, producing a deep sun kissed bronzed colour in only a few hours.

Some of the key ingredients include:

Made in the USA 🇺🇸

Eco Tan Invisible Tan

Eco Tan Invisible Tan
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08/13/2022 05:45 am GMT

Eco Tan has led the self-tanner market in delivering high-quality organic products.

Invisible Tan is one of their bestselling self tanner products. This creme-based gradual tanner can be used on both the face and body and develops over several hours.

This has been a go-to DHA free self tanner for those with skin sensitivities or allergies thanks to the formulation of natural and organic ingredients and the exclusion of harsh chemicals.

Some of the key ingredients include:

Made in Australia 🇦🇺

Commons Questions About DHA

Is DHA in fake tan harmful?

While it is widely agreed that DHA has no negative effects on your health, for those with allergies to this ingredient or particularly sensitive skin, using most of the well-known tanning products won’t do. It is advised however, to always keep products that contain DHA well away from your lips and eyes.

Do All Self Tanners Have DHA?

Self tanners without DHA are few and far between. That’s why we have found two fantastic DHA-free alternatives for those who want to a faux glow… without breaking out into a rash or having to expose themselves to dangerous UV rays! 

You can check out some of my recommendations for fake tan products for sensitive skin here.