At almost all Chicago tanning salons, you’ll find either an automated booth or an expert airbrusher, both at the ready to help clients quickly develop a deep tan—minus the harmful effects of UV rays. The secret lies in a specially designed formula called DHA made from sugar or beets. When converted into a mist, this formula interacts with skin to create an even, natural-looking tan. But in a city where cold weather dominates the forecast more than half the year, a way to maintain color can seem like an impossible luxury. Luckily, a spray tan in Chicago is easy to come by. Below, learn more about DHA, and find some salons where you can experience it yourself:How does DHA work?A spray tan isn't paint or makeup; it goes on clear. And it doesn’t affect melanin, the stuff that darkens skin exposed to sun. How does a spray tan work, then? It all comes down to a chemical called dihydroxyacetone—or DHA, as its friends call it. DHA is a kind of sugar; like food sugars, it can be derived from sugar cane or beets. When applied, it begins to interact with amino acids in the skin's outer layer and turn it darker. But it's not living tissue that it's after: DHA associates mostly with the dead skin cells that cover your body. As these cells naturally fall off over time—which they do so frequently that after about a month, you have an entirely new epidermis—the color fades gradually until it's back to its original state, usually after a week or so. That's why many spas in Chicago recommend exfoliating before getting a spray tan: if you remove the skin cells that will be first to fall off anyway, your tan will last longer.Can the color be customized?If spray-tan formulas all start out colorless, how can tanning salons offer different darkness levels? They simply up the concentration of DHA for clients who want to go darker. Those new to spray tanning should be careful, however. A higher concentration of DHA could mean a more orange tint, so starting at a light concentration and working your way up—or spacing out multiple applications at the same concentration—is wise. To counteract any tangerine tints, some formulas add a second chemical known as erythrulose. Derived from the sugars found in raspberries, erythrulose produces a reddish tint that complements the orange tones in DHA to create a more natural-looking color.Great! So where can I get a spray tan?Opinions differ on which salons offer the best spray tan in Chicago, but here are some excellent places to start: Leah Chavie Skincare Boutique, 2457 N. Halsted St., (773) 327-7051 Ultimate Exposure Tanning Centers, 140–150 W. Higgins Rd., Schaumburg, (847) 843-8267 Halsted Beach Tanning Salon, 3741 N. Halsted St., (773) 327-1005
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