Dihydroxyacetone, more commonly referred to as DHA, is a sunless tanning ingredient. Supplied as a white powder, this ingredient is dissolved in the water phase of emulsion-based skincare products.
It works as a tanning agent by reacting with the dead skin cells on the surface of the skin to produce the desired tan pigmentation. This pigment can last for several days and up to several weeks.
Dihydroxyacetone is also a reducing agent, which means it does the opposite of oxidize. This is the chemical reaction that occurs on the surface of the skin to create the pigmentation. In addition, it can be derived from vegetable or synthetic sources.