Natural Self Tanners

It’s mid-July and it’s getting painfully obvious that, by now, I will not manage to get sun-kissed color on my depressingly white body through normal outdoor activities. I have not had the time – nor the desire – to sit in the sun the get that natural glow. I’m going to have to fake it. And by fake, I mean a “natural”, with natural sunless tanners.

As most of you, I have become acutely aware of the toxic chemicals abundantly present in our personal care and homecare products. I am making a progressive effort to move everything to all-natural products. That includes home cleaning products, body lotions, shampoos, makeup and… self-tanners.

Most self-tanning lotions contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA) as the active ingredient. DHA is a colorless sugar that interacts with the dead cells on the top skin layer and causes a temporary change in color (see what the Beauty Brains say). In itself, this has not been proven dangerous (unless inhaled or ingested, as in a tanning booth environment) so it’s really the toxicity of the remaining ingredients that has me concerned. It’s the usual culprits, parabens, phthalates, petroleum, synthetic fragrances and dyes that I want to stay away from.

So, eager to don a more luminous glow along with my new sandals, I went looking for a chemical-free and safe self-tanning lotion. I found two that I would highly recommend:

True Natural Self Tanner

True Natural Cosmetics. Its mission is “…to provide you with high performance, chemical-free personal care products that are safe for you, your family & the environment. safely biodegradable and contain no parabens, phthalates, petroleum, synthetic fragrances or dyes of any kind”.  The Self Tanner Face and Body is vegan, cruelty-free, and 100% free from harmful chemical ingredients. For DHA, True Natural’s self-tanner uses naturally sourced DHA, a combo of naturally occurring sugars found in certain fruits and vegetables. These sugars react with amino acids found in the outer layer of the skin, creating a nontoxic reaction which gives skin a tanned look. It also contains natural jojoba oil, aloe vera and green tea extract for hydrating and anti-oxidant benefits.  Buy the 3 oz self tanner directly from, on Look for their all natural sunscreens too.


 Lavera Self Tanner

Lavera is certified BDIH in Germany which is the toughest certification process anywhere in the world for natural and organic products. All Lavera products are designed for sensitive skin, made with pure, organic plant oils, herb and flower extracts, free from parabens and synthetic preservatives , free from fragrances, emulsifiers and petroleum based ingredients and also Cruelty Free, Gluten Free, GMO Free.

In the case of this natural sunless tanning lotion, it's the organic soy extracts that provide the active ingredient and are combined with extracts of sugar to deliver a smooth application and an even result. Organic jojoba oil, lavender, aloe vera and rose water are added for moisturizing benefits. I discovered Lavera when shopping on where the 5 oz tube sells for $24.70. I have enjoyed the streak-free, natural looking results.

I'm quite sure that I don't need to remind you that self-tanners are NOT sun protection and that you still need to use sun screen to protect your skin. But, you knew that.

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14 Responses to Natural Self Tanners

  1. Adrienne Hepler says:

    After reading this site, I purchased True Natural Self Tanner because the posting says it is DHA free and I’m pregnant so can’t be exposed to DHA. I used it once and then looked at the ingredients. True Natural Self Tanner does in fact have DHA. You should amend the posting or remove it.

  2. ginger says:

    Hi Adrienne! I have been searching high and low for those self tanners that truely do not contain DHA –and BTW, lavera (listed above) has DHA in it too and the ingredients are listed here ( found in the ingredients tab. The only self tanner that I have found not containing dha is sold in the UK and is called melvita pro sun self tanning lotion (,8,1,7465,47055.htm). I hope this helps!!!!

  3. Anne Marie Kovacs says:

    Ladies, I got this response from Victor at True Natural:

    Both True Natural and Lavera self tanners – and all self tanners as opposed to dyes/stains use DHA or a combination of DHA and Eurythrulose. DHA is included in the ingredient listings on the product and the relevant websites. I’m not sure how the DHA free message got communicated but it is not the case.

    DHA IS a naturally occurring sugar and often source from the fermentation of sugar beets or sugar cane. It has a hazard score of 1-4 from the EWG Skin Deep site – depending on usage. This usage is the key to whether this ingredient is safe or not. DHA is approved by the FDA for use as a lotion on the skin for the purposes of self tanning. It is not approved and there are safety risks associated with it being used in a spray, as the active ingredient it can be inhaled into the body, especially the lungs.

    Articles concerning the safety of DHA have to do with the use of the ingredient in sprays:

    The EU Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety published the following opinion on the safety of DHA for self tanning:

    A study conducted on DHA even suggests that topical application of DHA may even be beneficial –

    The True Natural self tanners are all natural and the DHA used is naturally source. The item reviewed is certified by the Natural Products Association. In our opinion, and based on the information above, it is one of the safest ways to get a tan compared to UV exposure, tanning beds, or spray tans.

    With regards to use of DHA while pregnant – I have not reviewed the safety issues around the use of a DHA lotion, but my recommendation is most certainly that individual should follow the recommendations of her doctor.


    As this is pretty long, please feel free to publish my entire response.

    Victor Tang
    True Natural

    I hope this helps.

  4. Shelley says:

    Ladies I can honestly recommend the Melvita self tan. I have a horrid allergy to DHA and spent years and a lot of money looking for a DHA free one. I got the Lavera one because I read it had no DHA, like the post above says- it does, I had a reaction and looked at the ingredients! I’ve been using Melvita now for two years and no reaction- you get a lovely colour from it and it’s totally definitely DHA free!!!

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  7. Mary Kennedy says:

    I have just discovered that Melvita self tanning lotion is now discontinued. This has been THE ONLY true dha free lotion I have discovered. First bought in 2015…now I cannot find. All spray tans that I have encountered all contain dha- absolutely cannot use ANY product with dha. Head to toe itchy rash that only high powered topical steroid ointments only treats. I am desperate for any additional guidance for a dha free self tanning product.

    Thank you!
    Mary K

    • Jeannette says:

      This reply may be too late but St tropez now do a DHA free range called St Tropez Naturals. Also there is Glow Oil by the Chemistry Brand which is also DHA free. I too used to use Melvita and was disappointed when they discontinued it as I am allergic to DHA. I am on my second day of using Glow Oil and so far had no reaction. I am also waiting for my order or St Tropez Naturals.
      Hope this helps.

  8. Elaine says:

    This is probably too late too but did you react to the Glow Oil?
    I have severe allergic reactions to every self tanner I have ever used , bought glow oil and yip, you guessed it, I reacted in exactly the same way…. severe itchy rash. The ‘Natural’ DHA in glow oils apparently causes same reactions as DHA itself.

    Is there any product out there for those allergic to DHA?
    I’m based in U.K.

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