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TikTok Trend or Worth the Spend?

Tuesday, September 20th, 2022

By Shelby Spray, California Tan Sunless

“Hi, welcome to Fact or Cap where we’ll…”

If you immediately recognize that opening, congratulations, you have probably spent countless hours on TikTok like I have over the last year and a half. If you have no idea what I am talking about, allow me to explain. Even the most diehard holdouts have given into the dancing, trending, 60 seconds or less world of TikTok. People from all walks of life, from all over the world, have come together to share their life hacks, personal stories, dance moves, and more.

One of the biggest trends we have seen on TikTok is the absolute explosion of self-tanners and self-tanning tips. However, if I have learned anything in my 29 years of life, it’s that you can’t always trust what you see on a screen. Scores of new self-tanning products have popped up on the app, so I asked myself, are these just a trend or is it worth spending more for these products?

*Lab Coat Shelby enters the chat*

Before I weigh in on whether these products are worth the hype or not, let’s talk about the differences between a “meh” self-tanner and an “OMG when did you get back from vacation?” self-tanner. While DHA (dihydroxyacetone) and Erythrulose are found in many tanning products, it’s important to note how each work. DHA is a clear, sugar-derived extract whose amino acids react with your skin to provide a temporary darkening effect. Erythrulose has a composition like DHA and it reacts with your skin in a similar way. However, Erythrulose takes on average 24-48 hours to develop while DHA can develop in about 2-4 hours. When DHA and Erythrulose are used together, you are left with a darker, natural looking, streak-free, longer lasting sunless tan!

I know what you are thinking: “Shelby, why did I need a science lesson when all my clients want is to look incredible on Instagram?” Trust the process. When you understand what makes skin look flawless, you will better understand what products are going to truly work for clients’ skin! As with any other ingredient, DHA or Erythrulose may not react well on everyone’s skin. Once you know which (or both) of these works best for a specific client, it’s easier to find them their new favorite product. It’s also important to note how the amount of either of these ingredients can vastly change the look and longevity of a tan. This is also why immediate results can be a bit deceiving. If a sunless tan goes on and looks incredibly dark, chances are it will drastically change after a shower. That’s why some of those TikTok results seem a little *too* good to be true.

Which brings up the question: “Why do those TikTok tans look extremely dark?” A lot of these popular self-tanner brands use synthetic dyes in their formulas. These dyes contribute to the unbelievable “after” pics and are the reason why the “after my first shower” pics are either less than impressive or are conveniently left out. Most experienced self-tanners know color will continue developing for several hours; however, with these synthetic dyes that isn’t always the case. These dyes can also be irritating to those with sensitive skin and can possibly stain clothes and sheets. If a client needs an instant, dark, flawless tan for an event, they would be much better off with body makeup, skin tint, or a professional spray tan. If they’re looking for a day-to-day, amazing-looking, good for your skin, sunless glow, they will have to dig a little deeper.

It’s not just enough to have DHA and Erythrulose – show us the skincare! Now more than ever we know the advantage of skin-loving ingredients in products. Antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, oils, and extracts are just a few that come to mind – it’s a lot and frankly a bit overwhelming. Generally, look for something that has a blend of EcoCert DHA, Erythrulose, and Caramel. Next, look at the skincare. Look for something rich in antioxidants – bonus points if they come from an organic source or blend! Finally, look for the product’s moisturization claims. We know DHA can be incredibly drying for the skin, so finding a sunless product that can help replenish that moisture is vital. Outside of those key things, look for product claims that are important to your clients. Is it Cruelty-Free? Is it made with organic ingredients? Packaging?

Back to the original question: Are these new sunless products just a TikTok trend or worth the spend? The Sunless Tanning industry is huge, and everyone is trying to find their unique niche. Armed with the knowledge of what ingredients yield “OK” and “OMG you look AMAZING” results, you can make your clients better informed consumers. While many brands may be “mainstream,” it’s important to note that popular doesn’t always mean professional. Looking for blends of DHA and Erythrulose, organic skincare, and moisturizing ingredients will provide the overall flawless results clients want. Add in sustainability, eco-friendly, cruelty-free, Vegan, and other important callouts are equally important.

Remember, TikTok “results” can be misleading – but once you know how to match your clients with the perfect products, everyone will be in their comments begging them to spill the tea on their gorgeous sunless tan!


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