smelly cat DHA (Dihydroxyacetone, the self tanning ingredient that reacts with the skin to produce a sunless tan coloration, present in all self tanner products) has a distinctive “yeasty” smell while the tan is developing.

It may smell like inoffensive yeasty biscuits or dinner rolls, or some feel it smells like old gym socks or a smelly cat or dog.

The odor, if present, can vary dramatically from person to person. Not all users experience an odor.

Some people never develop a noticeable “bad” smell,  with on others it can be quite strong and unpleasant.

It is not just the product used, but is also related to each persons individual body chemistry.  The smell is actually from the DHA chemical reaction, which creates the tan effect, and a reaction with your individual body chemistry.

Smelling a product in the bottle, will not normally tell you if it will stink on you. As the product ingredient smell, is not the cause.

Masking Fragrances in products:

Companues may add a pleasant masking fragrance to products, which will change the product scent in the container, but normally will only work to alter DHA odor until the added fragrance fades on the skin surface. Most fragrances fade quickly, long before the DHA chemical reaction related to tan development starts to occur.

Strongly fragrances blends, may smell pleasant for a longer time, but clients don’t like to smell perfumy all day. And some clients are sensitive to strong fragrances, or object to fragrances clashing with their perfume.

(TBT blends have both fragrance and fragrance free versions, but all fragrances are light)

To maintain the fragrance covering scent, a  client will need to reapply a scented product at home to cover up any noticeable odor. (more on this later in the article)

Odor Neutralizing technology, and other ingredients:

Odor neutralizer ingredients or encapsulation technology can be blended into products during the formulation phase. This will help on some clients to capture the DHA development odor as it is created on the skin, but will not work on every client. This is temporary, and may wear off during the tan development process, depending on clients skin, and the environment. (all TBT blends use this technology)

Clients can reapply products at home to help capture the odors, such as Shower to Shower type bath powders and sprays, Foot odor sprays and powders, or a dusting of baking soda mixed with baby powder.

Ingredients within a sunless product and how they interact with the DHA or clients skin can increase an odor issue. Certain manufacturers avoid certain ingredient additives for this reason.  Because of this, different blends within the same product line may work better, and be less odorous, vs another. So switch things up a bit.

DHA level, and wear time.

Because the odor is directly related to DHA development chemistry and your skin. Using a lower level DHA product may be less smelly, vs a darker blend (or higher DHA level).

Most clients also tend to notice the odor at night while trying to sleep. So showering before bed, or applying a scented product to skin or bedding may help. Wash sheets after sleeping in them while tanning.

Shower Time:

Some clients find showering solution off sooner, at four hours instead of six or eight eliminates the DHA development scent. This can cause the tan to develop lighter or fade faster on some clients.

Rapid tan will allow the client an earlier shower off option, while providing a similar color depth, but some clients may notice rapid acting blends smell worse because of the ingredients needed to create a “Rapid Acting” blend type..

Blend Switching:

Tampa Bay Tan has 8 different blends and ingredients differ in each. Try switching from one blend to another, which may work better for your client. This varys from client to client, as one may fine product X goes great on them, and product S really stinks.  But another client may find the reverse, this is because the smell is still tied into an individual clients unique skin chemistry.

Client Controlled Issues:

Sweating can make the odor worse, so turn up the air cooling unit in your home and car while your tan develops to lessen sweating. If you sweat while sleeping, lower bed room temperature a bit, or remove some excess bedding.

Medications or diet can increase the scent. Has client recently made medication or dietary changes?

Hormonal Changes: menstruation, pregnancy breast feeding. menopause can all alter your body’s individual scent, or make you personally more sensitive to a scent others don’t notice.

Other ways to lessen odor:

Most people don’t notice an odor after showering, but for some people the smell lingers for days.

Advise them to use a scented body wash gel in the shower. Citrus and vanilla seem to work very well at cutting the odor.

slice of orange, vanilla pods and cloves on white background

Scented body lotions, powders, or body splashes, after shaves and perfumes are also effective.  If they wish to apply a scented product while the tan is developing they can. Citrus and vanilla tend to work very well. But client can use products of choice.

When using a splash, spritz or perfume product, recommend that the client spray a cloud into the air and walk through the mist. Spray can also be applied to hair, clothing or bedding. Some fabrics can be damaged or discolored, however. So use common sense caution.

Avoid spraying directly onto skin surface while tan is developing, as the alcohol in the spray can leave a light spot on the freshly tanned skin.

A scented moisturizer lotion can be applied 30 minutes or later after being sprayed, though tan may develop a bit lighter, in some cases. They should apply with gloved hands (or scrub palms well with a nail brush) .

Use products and habits to combat Body order, since the issue is partially related to ones own body odor, and the self tanner reaction

  • Use Antibacterial cleansers to kill excess skin bacterium, and remove excess sweat.
  • Towel drying to remove sweat from skin.
  • Make sure to exfoliate skin well pre-tan, especially arm pits. Cleanse groin, behind knees, feet and any odoriferous areas well, and trim excess body hair, which can trap odors.
  • Clinical or prescriptive strength Anti antiperspirants, can be applied the day before you tan. Use of this product type regularly, will allow it to work for about 48-78 hours with no reapplication needed. (Secret Clinical, Degree Mens Clinical, Drysol)
  • Aluminum or zinc-based products will work hardest to combat odor issues.
  • Scented powders can be applied at anytime, after solution has dried on skin.
  • Make sure clothing, shoes, socks are clean and sweat free.
  • Avoid foods that tend to make you sweat more, such as hot peppers or other spicy foods, which can contribute to body odor. And the aroma of foods such as onions or garlic can be carried in the sweat, making you smell bad. Drinks with caffeine or alcohol may also cause you to sweat more.


Can others really “smell” the self tanner on you? – Maybe not……..

Some clients always have a distinctive DHA development odor no matter what products they use.

Most people are afraid others can smell the self tan smell on them, but normally this is not the case.  You can smell it on yourself, because it smells different or “off”, but others generally would not note this “difference”. Or if they do, it would be associated with normal human smell. or possible a gym work out.

Many many people that we come across in daily life do use self tanners, and very rarely do we actually notice the “self tan smell” in public.

You can test  how “smelly” your tan is by placing your tanning clothing in an enclosed closet for 24-48 hours after wearing.

Then smell them  later, and see if they do still stink. If the do stink, then this will indicate, that you do have an odor issue from your tanning product, that you may want to address, if it bothers you.

Place tanning cloths in a closet, and check from smell in 24 hours to see if its producing an odor