Treatments + Products to Increase Collagen Production

Treatments + Products to Increase Collagen Production

The fact that your skin changes over time comes at no surprise—but do you know exactly how?

There are two important components that contribute to this change; they are collagen and elastin.  These components of your skin help keep facial lines and wrinkles at bay and improve the quality of your skin. When you improve the quality of your skin, it will appear healthy and youthful.

There are many cosmetic treatments to help with the aging process, like Botox (and other neurotoxins) that stop muscle contraction to reduce wrinkles, or dermal fillers that replace volume that we lose over time.

However, here I describe ways to help your skin appear more radiant that can be done with or without volumizing fillers and toxins.  It’s all about improving the health of your skin!

What is collagen and elastin?

At the core of skin health is collagen and elastin. Collagen is the main structural protein, which acts like scaffolding and provides plumpness to your skin. Elastin allows your skin to be flexible and helps it keep its shape even after stretching or pinching. Both of these proteins are important to maintain skin quality and integrity. This is why collagen and elastin stimulating treatments are considered both preventative and corrective in anti-aging terms

Why does collagen and elastin decrease in our skin?

Collagen is produced throughout our lives, but the amount begins to reduce in our 20’s.  Elastin production stops around puberty.  Some factors can increase the breakdown of collagen, like excessive sun exposure, pollution and smoking.  This loss makes your skin appear thinner and have less structural support, which is why people begin to notice drooping or sagging of their skin. For youthful skin, it is important to both preserve the collagen you have and stimulate your skin to produce it faster.

What are in-office treatments you can do to boost collagen and elastin production?

There are many treatments at our office that work to stimulate collagen and elastin production.  Which one you choose may depend on your specific concerns, downtime, cost, or what your goals are.  Here is some great information about how in-office treatments improve the quality of your skin, but if you are not sure which one is the best choice for you, come in for a cosmetic consultation.

Here are 6 in-office treatments that can increase collagen and elastin:

Radiesse was approved by the FDA as a facial filler at the end of 2006 and has been used as a volumizing filler since. However, it can be used as a biostimulant in your skin rather than just a filler when saline and lidocaine are added to Radiesse.  This mixture triggers the body to produce new collagen and elastin so that you get immediate results plus long-term improvement. The benefits of this treatment are skin tightening and thickening, reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and crepiness. Overall, skin tone, texture and elasticity can be markedly improved!

Microneedling is a procedure where a device with fine needles is moved across your skin.  The needles puncture the top layer of the skin and create a controlled skin injury to improve skin texture and promote collagen growth. Once this micro-injury is created with the needles, your body is stimulated to produce new collagen to fill them in as part of the healing process. This new collagen can make your skin look smoother, tighter, and more youthful.  It can also help diminish acne scars.

PRP therapy is used in many aspects of medicine. PRP is a serum that results from your own blood that can amplify the natural growth factors in your body and stimulate the growth of new cells. At Evolution Dermatology, we use PRP as injections and topical application to diminish wrinkles, improve skin quality and help treat acne scars

This procedure uses fractionated plasma energy to resurface your skin and deliver effects similar to a deep resurfacing treatment without the downtime. The Opus device uses both radio frequency energy and plasma to create fractional injuries on the surface of your skin tissue regeneration and collagen remodeling

Sofwave is a clinically-proven, non-invasive approach to rebuilding collagen and elastin to tighten and improve facial lines and wrinkles. This procedure uses ultrasound energy to pass through the surface of your skin, heating the mid-dermal tissue at just the right depth to stimulate new collagen and elastin production. With no downtime, Sofwave works to enhance and rejuvenate your skin quality and firmness.

These use hydroxy acids (like glycolic, lactic acids) to boost skin cell turnover, which in turn stimulates collagen production. You can see immediate benefits from chemical peels, as they can help with tone and texture, giving you an instant glow.  These are best done in a series done monthly to get the most collagen regeneration and longer lasting results.

What skin care products can help?

These clinically proven skin care products are a great way to add nourishment to your skin and promote healthy collagen and elastin.

Here are the 3 main topical powerhouses…

1) Prescription Tretinoin (known by the brand name Retin-A):

Applied in the evening to your skin, this vitamin A derivative upregulates genes involved in collagen production while it exfoliates to encourage collagen and new healthy skin cells. Tretinoin and retinoids have been proven for years to be a gold standard in anti-aging skin care as stated in this publication here in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. Just ask when you are in the office if this might be a good skin care topical treatment for you!

2) Vitamin C Serum:

Protect collagen with topical vitamin C.  Slather on a vitamin C serum in the morning. This vitamin is a strong antioxidant that protects the collagen in your skin against UV damage. More than that, it triggers collagen formation and stabilizes the collagen proteins in skin. Has been studied for years proving its effectiveness.  At Evolution Dermatology we have a vitamin C serum that also has ferulic acid and vitamin E to add antioxidant power with a hydrating hyaluronic acid base.

Evolve Vitamin C Serum from Evolution Dermatology in Boulder CO
Evolve Vitamin C Serum

3) Sunscreen:

Sunscreen is vital for skin cancer prevention — but also for keeping skin young and springy. UV exposure can lead to the breakdown of collagen, which can lead to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, so you’re never too young to start wearing sunscreen every day. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and don’t forget to cover your neck, ears and chest too!

There is no magic bullet when we talk about aesthetic treatments and skin care.  No one treatment or product does everything. It is about combining treatments and products depending on your skin type and your specific goals.

5 Back to School Tips for Teens and College Students

5 Back to School Tips for Teens and College Students

This is for all of you heading back to school this fall.  As you gear up to hit the books again, don’t forget to give your skin some TLC too. Here are five practical skincare tips that will have you looking fresh and ready to conquer the new school year.

1) Choose the right cleanser for your skin type (and wash your face twice a day!)

The trick here is finding your perfect match. Just like finding the right study group, finding the right cleanser for your skin type is essential. Oily skin? Opt for a gentle foaming cleanser. Dry skin? Cream-based cleansers are your go-to. Choosing the right cleanser can make all the difference in limiting irritation and keeping those breakouts at bay.

Here are some great options:

Sugar and Coconut Foaming Cleanser

Gentle Foaming Cleansers if you are prone to acne or have oily/normal skin.  Enriched with plant extracts, this helps to soothe and protect your skin.  Aloe vera calms the skin while coconut oil derivatives gently wash away impurities. (Available for purchase only in our office).

Evolve Sugar and Coconut Foaming Cleanser at Evolution Dermatology in Boulder, Colorado
Evolve Sugar and Coconut Foaming Cleanser

Epionce Gentle Foaming Cleanser

This gently cleans surface impurities including makeup without leaving the skin feeling tight, dry or stripped; cleanses without irritation; helps smooth and refine texture; leaves skin feeling hydrated.

Epionce Gentle Foaming Cleanser Available at Evolution Dermatology in Boulder, Colorado
Epionce Gentle Foaming Cleanser

Epionce Lytic Cleanser

For a little extra exfoliation, this spa-like cleanser contains salicylic acid to remove impurities and calm problem skin without unnecessary irritation or dryness; refreshes and calms problem skin; and removes stubborn dirt, oil and makeup.

Epionce Lytic Gel Cleanser Available at Evolution Dermatology in Boulder, Colorado
Epionce Lytic Gel Cleanser

Nutriance Organic Cleansing Milk

Cream Cleansers for dry/sensitive skin: This is a silky emulsion enriched with marine and botanical ingredients to gently remove impurities, dirt, surface oils and makeup residue.
(Available for purchase only in our office)

Nutriance Cleansing Milk Recommended by Evolution Dermatology in Boulder, Colorado
Nutriance Cleansing Milk

Epionce Milky Lotion Cleanser

This soothing cleanser is effective without harming, irritating or causing unnecessary dryness in the skin. It helps calm redness and scaly texture; leaves skin feeling soft and moisturized; and non-foaming formula for sensitive skin.

Epionce Milky Lotion Cleanser recommended by Evolution Dermatology in Boulder, Colorado
Epionce Milky Lotion Cleanser

2) Moisturize Day and Night

Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize.

Imagine showing up for a pop quiz without studying – that’s your skin without moisturizer. Moisturizing twice a day after cleansing keeps your skin’s hydration game strong. Repairing your skin barrier with moisturizer can keep wrinkles in check and irritation at bay. Even if you are acne prone, moisturizer is important.

Here are some suggestions:

Acne Prone

Evolve HA Serum

This serum draws moisture into your skin with no oils, and contains squalene, coenzyme Q10, and peptides to repair your skin barrier.

(Available for purchase only in our office)

Evolve HA Serum made my Evolution Dermatology in Boulder, Colorado
Evolve HA Serum

Cetaphil Gentle Clear Mattifying Acne Moisturizer

This lightweight moisturizer with acne-fighting salicylic acid, helps breakouts while soothing acne-prone, sensitive skin. Hydrates for 48 hours, and improves skin tone and texture

Cetaphil Mattifying Acne Moisturizer recommended by Evolution Dermatology in Boulder, Colorado
Cetaphil Mattifying Acne Moisturizer


Evolve Peptide Moisturizer

This contains hyaluronic acid, shea butter and non-comedogenic jojoba oil in addition to botanical actives to help promote elasticity and firmness to your skin.

(Available for purchase only in our office)

Evolve Peptide Moisturizer Made By Evolution Dermatology in Boulder, Colorado
Evolve Peptide Moisturizer

Dry/Sensitive skin

Nutriance Organic Rejuvenating Rich Cream

A luxuriously nourishing marine botanical-based cream with antioxidants to improve skin firmness and decreases the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. (Available for purchase only at our office)

Nutriance Organic Rejuvenating Rich Cream Recommended by Evolution Dermatology in Boulder, Colorado
Nutriance Rejuvenating Rich Cream

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream

Ultra hydrating facial cream with 4.5% Squalane has a unique lightweight texture and lasting 72-hour hydration to leave skin softer and visibly healthier. Formulated with Squalane, Glacial Glycoprotein and Pro-Ceramides, this non-greasy, lightweight moisturizer is clinically demonstrated to hydrate 15 layers deep for softer, smoother, and healthier looking skin.

Kiehl's Ultra Moisturizing Cream Recommended by Evolution Dermatology in Boulder, Colorado
Kiehl’s Ultra Moisturizing Cream

3) Use an Eye Cream

Say goodbye to panda eyes with a good eye cream.

Late-night study sessions can leave you with dark circles that resemble panda eyes. Enter eye cream – your sleep-deprived savior. Bid adieu to those bags and welcome a fresher look.

Evolve Brightening Probiotic Eye Cream

This is moisturizing with probiotics, kojic acid, botanicals and caffeine to reduce puffiness and dark circles. (Available for purchase at our office only)

Evolve Probiotic Eye Cream Made By Evolution Dermatology in Boulder, Colorado
Evolve Probiotic Eye Cream

Epionce Renewal Eye Cream

This product is great for adding moisture and antioxidants around your delicate eye area.

Epionce Renewal Eye Cream Available at Evolution Dermatology in Boulder, Colorado
Epionce Renewal Eye Cream

4) Make Sunblock a Daily Non-Negotiable Habit

Consider sunblock getting your face dressed every morning.

Just as you wouldn’t go to class without a backpack, don’t step out without sunscreen. The best way to use it is applying it every morning – in fact it can be what you use for your moisturizer. Rain or shine, sunscreen is your shield against premature aging caused by the sun. Trust me, your future self will thank you.

Here are some great choices for your face and neck that are not pore clogging and are easy to use:

COOLA: Rōsilliance® Tinted Moisturizer Organic Sunscreen SPF 30

Mineral tinted moisturizer! A lightly hydrating formula with antioxidants and mineral blocking zinc and titanium dioxide.

COOLA Rosilliance Tinted Organic SPF Available at Evolution Dermatology in Boulder, Colorado
COOLA Rosilliance Tinted SPF

Epionce Daily Shield Tinted SPF 50 Sunscreen

This one offers more moisture, a sheer tint, with zinc and titanium dioxide for Broad-spectrum SPF 50 UV protection; Light, quick-absorbing anti-oxidant rich sheer formula; Water Resistant (80 minutes)

Epionce Daily Shield Tinted SPF 50 Available at Evolution Dermatology in Boulder Colorado
Epionce Daily Shield Tinted SPF 50

If a tint is not your thing:

COOLA Mineral Sun Silk Crème Organic Face Sunscreen SPF 30

This is not your usual white zinc sunblock. It is much more sheer, oil-free, and great for every day.

COOLA Sunsilk Mineral SPF 30 Available at Evolution Dermatology in Boulder Colorado
COOLA Sunsilk Mineral SPF 30

5) Consider a Vitamin C Serum

Vitamin C serum – your skin’s BFF.

Want that lit-from-within glow? Vitamin C serum is about to become your skin’s best friend. It fights dullness and dark spots like a pro. It is a powerful antioxidant that can both repair and protect your skin. Start a habit of beginning your day with this serum after washing. You won’t regret the resulting healthy glow!
Choosing the right vitamin C serum is important to make sure the active ingredient is stable and it is able to appropriately penetrate your skin without irritation.

My favorite vitamin C serums:

SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic Serum

This serum has been a gold standard for years, the only setback is the price tag (usually around $180). 🙂

SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic Serum Recommended by Evolution Dermatology in Boulder Colorado
SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic Serum

Evolve 20% Vitamin C Serum

This potent antioxidant contains ferulic acid, vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid to repair the effects of sun exposure, lighten age spots, and smooth and brighten skin. (Available for purchase only in our Boulder office)

Evolve Vitamin C Serum from Evolution Dermatology in Boulder CO
Evolve Vitamin C Serum

So, as you embark on your academic adventure, remember that taking care of your skin is just as important as acing your exams. Incorporate these tips into your routine, and you’ll strut through the halls with confidence.

Happy studying and happy skin-caring!

How to Avoid Chapped Lips this Winter

How to Avoid Chapped Lips this Winter

Winter brings things we love: holiday time, hot cocoa, skiing, and cozy nights by the fire. But with it comes cold and lack of humidity that can make your skin and lips as dry as tree bark!

How to Avoid Chapped Lips this Winter

The skin on your lips is different from the rest of your body. Lips don’t have oil glands and are thin and delicate, which makes them more prone to drying out.

Most people don’t even notice how much they touch or play with their lips — we tend to lick, pick, and even bite on their lips without even thinking about it. These habits can really take a toll causing dry, flaking and painful chapped lips that seem to never heal.

Here are my 12 tips for treating and preventing dry lips so they stay soft, beautiful and hydrated all winter long!


Lip licking is probably the worst habit you can have with dry lips. When your lips get dry, you lick them in hopes of adding moisture. But it does the opposite!

Saliva evaporates quickly, leaving your lips drier than before you licked them. This starts the vicious cycle of licking again and again for relief, leading to the downhill spiral of seriously painful, dry and cracking skin. This results in some seriously chapped lips!


Lip balms with that “extra tingle” is good for your lips, right? Wrong. It’s ironic, but a lot of lip products contain colors, irritants, and dyes that can cause irritation. At first, they are soothing and feel great, but overuse can make your lips even more dry and irritated.

Common drying/irritating ingredients to avoid include:

Salicylic Acid


It sounds strange, but something as simple as breathing through your mouth can actually dry out your lips.


A lot of the lip plumpers that claim to enhance lip volume do this magical trick through temporarily causing lip swelling. These products typically contain irritants or chemicals, such as those derived from cinnamon or cayenne pepper. These ingredients can lead to continuously chapped lips or even dermatitis on your lips.


The warmer months aren’t the only time your body craves hydration. Water affects the moisture levels throughout your body and skin all year long. Less water means less saliva production, which can make your lips feel really dry. Keep your body and skin hydrated from the inside-out!


Tobacco smoke can irritate the sensitive skin around the lips, causing them to dry out and become more likely to crack. Not to mention that it is a carcinogen too!


In the winter there’s little humidity in the air and lots of dry heat in your house. All this dry air removes moisture from your skin and causes dry lips.

Sleeping with a humidifier is the best for adding moisture to the air and helping your skin stay supple. Even if you have a whole house humidifier, a focused humidifier by your bed at night can be a life saver through the cold, dry winter months.


Wind and cold temps can take a toll on your lips. Exposing them to harsh elements will cause them to get dry and irritated. Covering them with a scarf when you head out into brutal temperatures and wind can help keep them protected.


Prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV rays can cause big time damage to your lips, leading to dryness and cracking. Chronic sun damage can also result in something called actinic cheilitis, which causes crusting and thick scale to form on your lips. This condition can become serious over time and result in precancerous and cancerous lesions. If you think this might be you, head into your derm office for a check.

When looking for a lip balm with sun protection AVOID chemical sunscreens such as oxybenzone (also known as benzophenone-3), octinoxate, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, and octinoxate benzene. These can be irritating and are not good for your fragile lips or your body. Look for sun blockers like zinc and titanium instead. If you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t be using it!


Most times this cannot be avoided, but it’s good to know that certain medications, such as antihistamines, chemotherapy agents, and diuretics can cause dehydration and chapped lips as a side effect.

Even some topical acne medications may contain lip irritants, such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. To avoid contact with your lips when using these products, just apply a barrier ointment like Aquaphor or Vaseline to your lips prior to applying your acne medication.


Whatever you do, don’t peel or bite off the dry skin on your lips! When your lips are chapped, they can be rough and start to peel. When you pick, you can end up taking off skin that isn’t completely dead, which can lead to bleeding and pain.


Look for lip products with both hydrating and occlusive ingredients. This combination will moisturize while preventing water loss. In many lip balms you will also find a wax as an ingredient, which helps the product stick to your lips.

Occlusive ingredients may include beeswax, lanolin or petroleum (also hydrating) and work to hold moisture in. Moisturizing agents might include ceramides, jojoba oil, olive oil, dimethicone, coconut oil, shea butter or cocoa butter.

Of course, use a good lip balm throughout the day, but the most important time to slather on more is at night before you go to sleep.


Aquaphor skin protectant ointment has Petrolatum, Panthenol, Mineral Oil and Glycerin to moisturize, protect and relieve chapped, dry, cracked or irritated lips.

PA Pauli Morrow from Evolution Dermatology loves Aquafor for dry lip treatment

So simple, but just what your fragile lips need. It is made with Petroleum jelly, which is a mixture of natural waxes and mineral oils that together lock moisture in lips, moisturizing it to repair and relieve dryness.

PA Pauli Morrow, from Evolution Dermatology in Boulder Colorado, blog about chapped lips and using vaseline

This water-resistant organic lip balm with broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection hydrates and smoothes dry, chapped lips. This vitamin- and antioxidant-enriched formula nourishes and conditions with organic Cupuaçu Butter and Raspberry and Jojoba Seed Oils.

Evolution Deramatology and PA Pauli Morrow recommend Coola lip balm

Evolution Lip Balm

You can grab this one at our office! And it has all kinds of great ingredients to help your lips stay healthy. Including: sunflower seed oil, beeswax and organic olive oil. It’s great for Summer and Winter protection.

Evolution Dermatology custom lip balm for winter and summer protection available in the office in Boulder Colorado
Unveiling the Secrets of Dermaplaning

Unveiling the Secrets of Dermaplaning

Dermaplaning has been around for over 40 years, but has gained immense popularity as a non-invasive cosmetic procedure in recent years. It’s a very effective skincare treatment that is simple but delivers some amazing results. Here I explore the concept of dermaplaning, its benefits, and if it may be right for you. Let’s dive in!

What is dermaplaning?

Dermaplaning, also known as epidermal leveling or blading, is a skincare procedure performed by our experienced aestheticians. It entails using a specialized surgical scalpel to gently scrape off dead skin cells and vellus hair (peach fuzz) from the surface of the skin. It will take about 20-30 minutes and is completely painless. You can enjoy the benefits of this treatment every three to four weeks to maintain a smooth, radiant appearance.

How can I benefit from dermaplaning?

Numerous medical journals highlight the potential benefits of dermaplaning. According to a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology (Smith et al., 2018), dermaplaning can improve skin texture, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and enhance the absorption and efficacy of skincare products. Additionally, dermaplaning can provide a smoother canvas for makeup application, resulting in a more flawless finish (Gonzalez et al., 2019). In short, it rejuvenates your skin by promoting cell turnover and enhances product penetration. Any skin care products placed on your skin after the treatment will absorb better and your skin will be glowing and smooth!

Are there any side effects?

Dermaplaning is very safe and has little side effects. A comprehensive review published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology (Al-Niaimi et al., 2020) indicates that possible side effects of dermaplaning may include temporary redness, sensitivity, and a risk of superficial cuts or nicks. However, these side effects are not common and tend to resolve quickly.

Is dermaplaning right for your skin type?

Dermaplaning is suitable for most people seeking skin rejuvenation. It is particularly beneficial for those with dry or rough skin, superficial hyperpigmentation, or mild acne scarring. However, it is not ideal if you have active acne, open wounds, sunburns, or a history of keloid scarring. If you are not sure, just ask our aesthetician and she can help you make the best decision for you.

What should you know before dermaplaning?

Before having a dermaplaning treatment, there are a few considerations. It is important to have a professional experienced in performing dermaplaning and never try this at home! Additionally, inform our aesthetician about any allergies, skin conditions, or medications you are currently using. Avoid excessive sun exposure and discontinue the use of retinoids or exfoliating products a few days before the treatment.

Can you combine dermaplaning with other facials?

Dermaplaning can be combined with other types of facials to enhance your results. According to a study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology (Mills et al., 2019), combining dermaplaning with chemical peels can provide a synergistic effect, improving overall skin texture and tone. When scheduling your facial, just ask if dermaplaning can be added to boost your results!

Dermaplaning offers a range of benefits to improve the appearance and texture of your skin. Indulge in this rejuvenating experience, and watch as your complexion transforms, revealing a fresh and youthful appearance that will make heads turn!

Pros and Cons of Sunless Tanning Products

Pros and Cons of Sunless Tanning Products

Pros and Cons of Sunless Tanning Products

Hopefully you have a sunny trip on the horizon. Since you will be baring more skin than usual on your adventure, there is nothing better than sporting a faux glow!

How can we enjoy some bronzed skin without a downside?


Never.  The UV radiation from tanning beds (and of course the sun too) leads to skin damage, aging and skin cancer. Tanning beds are NEVER safe or good for your skin. Getting that “base tan” is only adding to your cumulative sun damage. In fact, indoor tanning beds increase your chances of developing melanoma by 20 percent.  Stay away from them all together.


Self tanners are actually not a stain or dye.  The products have an active ingredient and darkening agent called dihydroxy acetone (DHA).  It is considered safe by the FDA and is derived from beet or cane sugar which reacts with the amino acids in the top layer of skin. It is kind of like the browning of an avocado or a piece of fruit.  The darkening effect takes place in about four hours, and wears off when your outer layer of skin has naturally shed.

Another active ingredient in self-tanners is erythrulose.  It works similarly to DHA and is derived from raspberries and can be found in some more “natural” products and even Jergen’s tanning products (in combination with DHA).



Some products contain parabens.  This is something that you should avoid in any topical product that goes on your skin.  Parabens act as a preservative when added to products to create a longer shelf life.  But they have been linked to breast cancer and avoiding any ingredients that end in “-paraben” (like methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben and butylparaben) is best.

I have known to avoid parabens for a while, but what I did not expect to find out is that there are also other potentially harmful chemicals to be aware of in tanning products.  In the past, I have always been a fan of getting a spray tan before a warm vacation – or using a self-tanner occasionally to help get a little color without the sun.  However, what I did not realize is that there are some potentially harmful effects that these can have.   


DHA and erythrulose were found in studies to have some unwanted side effects. DHA is FDA approved for topical use – but the FDA advises avoiding inhaling it (like with spray tans) and using it near mucus membranes (like eyes, nose and mouth).  Here you can read more from the FDA.  Humm…let’s find out why the advisory. 

Here’s the breakdown from what was found in studies:


Triggering free radicals is known as oxidative stress.  This study reported that DHA created free radicals which attack your cells and degrade collagen and elastin.  This means that DHA can actually CAUSE premature aging and sagging skin!   


I discovered that the DHA can accelerate sun damage if you go out into the sun. This study found that DHA-treated skin generates more than 180% additional radicals during sun exposure.  

Geez.  So to sum it up, DHA (the active ingredient in self tanners) can trigger free radicals and accelerate sun damage.  

Erythrulose (the other active ingredient in self tanners) has also been shown to increase production of free radicals similar to the effect seen with DHA, as reported in this study


So, it seems that no self-tanning product is 100% safe and clean.  However, occasional use and avoiding inhaling a spray, is probably less of a worry.  There is no question that excessive sun exposure does lead to skin cancer.  If using a self tanning product keeps you from using a tanning bed or getting extra sun exposure in the hopes of getting tanned skin, then it may be a good choice for you. 


Where there is a will, I’ll sure try to find a way!  Here are some safer alternatives you may want to consider.  

I searched high and low and found this product that contains no parabens, no DHA and no erythrulose:

St. Tropez: Instant Glow Body Bronzer Amazon $25

100% DHA-free.  Give your skin an instant glow up that lasts all day with streak-free results that are transfer and water resistant. This is best for those looking for a quick fix or instant results with no commitment or for nervous tanners seeking a risk-free temporary glow up. I loved the way it went on smoothly and actually looked natural.

COOLA Organic Sunless Tan Anti-Aging Serum (with Beet-Derived DHA):  $54 in our office or on the COOLA website

COOLA crafted a product that is organic, paraben-free, sulfate-free, and contains ingredients like argon oil and antioxidants that can fight free radicals and potentially counteract any negative impact that DHA could cause.  This has not been specifically studied, but in theory this could be a positive impact on your skin.