Emulsifiers and Solvents in Tanning Lotions – What Do They Do and What You Should Look For

Emulsifiers and solvents make up the base of any tanning lotion. That is why the kind of ingredients in those groups are very important for the quality of the lotion.

What Is an Emulsifier and What Should I Look For?

An emulsifier is a thickening agent and is one of the most common ingredients in tanning cosmetics. It makes oil and water mixtures more stable.

Two examples of cheap emulsifiers are propylene glycol and borax. Propylene glycol has been linked to health problems and is a known skin irritant. Wearers laying out in the sun with a lotion that contains propylene glycol may develop breathing problems due to the substance turning to gas at high temperatures.

Borax is another cheap emulsifier often listed by its scientific name, sodium borate. It too has been known to cause skin irritation and has even been banned for use in cosmetics in some countries.

When investigating the ingredients in a lotion, look for laureth-7. It is made from laurel alcohol, a colorless solid alcohol derived from a natural fatty acid.

What Is a Solvent and What Should I Look For?

A solvent is a substance used to dilute. Vegetable glycerin is often found as one of the ingredients in tanning lotions that are of lower quality. Though they may sound healthy and natural, synthetic versions of this solvent can be as dangerous as certain emollients. Like propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin can cause skin irritation and allergic reaction.

When choosing a tanning lotion, it is best to look for isoparaffin or butylenes glycol. Both give tanning lotion an attractive, whipped look and make it feel softer on the skin.

Don’t Be “Washed-Out” by Low Quality

Take a look at the ingredients in the tanning cosmetics you use or sell. If “aqua” or water is the first ingredient, it could legally be made up of up any amount of water. The rule usually is, the cheaper the lotion the higher the water content.

Water may be healthy for the body but it does nothing to improve the quality of a tan. Active ingredients are what you’re looking for that. Unfortunately, cheap tanning cosmetics often contain less than 5% active ingredients and most contain less than 2% active ingredients!

Active ingredients should be 50-60% and list aloe vera or coconut milk as their first ingredients, not water. This way, it makes a dramatic difference in the price you’re paying for active ingredients versus inactive ingredients, making even a seemingly expensive lotion a bargain.

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