What Is It?

Dihydroxyacetone is a white crystalline powder. In cosmetics and personal care products, Dihydroxyacetone is used in the formulation of self-tanning products.

Why Is It Used?

Dihydroxyacetone imparts a color to the human body. It also enhances the appearance of dry or damaged skin by reducing flaking and restoring suppleness.

Scientific Facts

Dihydroxyacetone, is a color additive used in self-tanning or sunless tanning products. It darkens the skin by reacting with amino acids in the skin’s surface.

Safety Information

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists Dihydroxyacetone as a color additive exempt from certification. It may be safely used in externally applied cosmetics “intended solely or in part to impart a color to the human body” provided that it conforms to FDA specifications. Dihydroxyacetone may also be used in externally applied drugs. Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) has deferred evaluation of this ingredient because the safety has been assessed by FDA. This deferral of review is according to the provisions of the CIR Procedures.

All color additives used in foods, drugs and cosmetics in the United States must be approved by FDA and listed in the Code of Federal Regulations. In some cases, FDA requires that each batch of color produced for use in regulated products can be used only if it is certified by the agency to meet strict specifications. FDA maintains a laboratory especially for this purpose and color manufacturers must pay a fee to support this activity. FDA only approves colors after extensive review of all safety data and publication of the basis for its approval in the Federal Register.

FDA comments regarding sunless tanner products 

Link to FDA Code of Federal Regulations for Dihydroxyacetone

In Europe, Dihydroxyacetone is treated as a cosmetic ingredient rather than as a colorant. Dihydroxyacetone may be used in cosmetics and personal care products marketed in Europe according to the general provisions of the Cosmetics Regulation of the European Union.

More Scientific Information

Dihydroxyacetone, or 1,3-dihydroxy-2-propanone, is an aliphatic ketone. In cosmetics and personal care products, Dihydroxyacetone functions as a colorant and as a skin conditioning agent – miscellaneous.