Booster Drops – What are they?

DHA Booster drops are a liquid solution product with a very high percentage of Dihydroxyacetone (or DHA) added. They are used to increase, or raise, the DHA percentage of any liquid product they are added to.  They darken the sunless tan.

They can be purchased in clear (no tint added) and tinted (bronze colorant added) versions, depending on the format provided per each company.

Booster drop DHA percentages range from about 20% through 50% (50% is the highest on the market)

Tampa Bay Tans DHA booster drops are 50% DHA, in a deep brown tinted base, along with other ingredients to help refine the way the DHA tan colors the skin. The added “other” ingredients, also help lessen concerns with dilution of the other beneficial ingredients in your spray tan blend, that help adjust how the DHA works as the tan darkens.

The Tampa Bay Tan AMP booster drop product will increase both the DHA level and the darkness of the color guide/bronzer. A darker deeper color bronzer, can also create an overall darker tan. The bronzer tint colors are made from food grade and cosmetic dyes, the same type used in foods, candies, Jellies, and drinks, or makeups, eye shadows and skin safe colorant products.  Think of the Red or Blue colorant in a popsicle and how it stains your lips or tongue for a period – this is exactly how the bronzer colorants work in the booster drops. They add a temporary brown stain to the skin surface.

Brown tinted drops can stain the skin with an extra brown tint for a few days, or so. The staining depth effect, and fade time-frame, from the bronzer will depend on client’s skin, porosity, and how well they have exfoliated pretan. How often they shower, skincare products used, and their natural skin sluff off (daily dead skin cell exfoliation rate) will all influence how slow or fast the colorant staining disappears from the skin.

The DHA (or the sunless tanning ingredient) color effect of the booster is tied in to the same factors as above, as far as wear and fade rate, but typically will fade at a slower rate. This would work like a normal solution sunless tanner product, just darker in depth of color.

What’s better – Tinted or Clear Booster Drops?

Tinted Booster Drops provide two ways to deepen the tan; the DHA increase, and the added dyes from the bronzer.  Both would work together to darken the tan. Adding more or less drops with impact the overall visible darkness of the sunless tan during application. Then the DHA tan will darken over time, darkening the overall sunless tan, and the client will get some skin staining form the brown bronzer as well.

A clear booster drop would not have the added extra brown color “boost” from the food grade dye portion. So tan darkening is from the sunless tan depth increase only. This would be an option if you do not like the appearance of a darker bronzer color in the sunless tan.

Tint Only Additives (no DHA)

Occasionally you will also find dye colorant/bronzer booster drops only, with no added DHA. These will only increase the visible tint on the skin, and may add a few days of skin staining from the colorants dyes. But it will fade within a few days, sometimes after the first shower, depending on client’s skin and amount used.  This would be used to JUST darken the bronzer color in a solution where the bronzer is not dark enough to see on the client’s skin, or the client likes the appearance of a darker bronzer. This will not darken the DHA tan.

You can do this with regular brown tinted DHA containing booster drops as well, just add less drops, only enough to darken visible bronze, but not significantly raise DHA level.

How do I use the drops?

Each brand will have directions on the bottle for their product, based on the DHA percent of the product.  Using Tampa Bay’s product as an example here, you would add 4-6 drops of booster, per 1 ounce of any Solution – to increase the overall DHA level by 1%. (will also darken visible bronzer)

For example:  you would add two ounces of 8% solution to your solution cup, then add in 10 drops of booster drops. Shake gently. This will give you 2 ounces of 9%, darker tinted, higher DHA, tanning solution.

To change a gallon of product – add 1 oz of booster to 1 gallon of product, to raise DHA level by 1%.

To just darken the bronzer, you can just add a few drops, to provide the colorant darkening level you need. A few drops added to two ounces of solution, will not significantly raise the DHA level.

How much is too much? Orange tones and dryness issues.

A common question I hear – “…how much can I add?”. In theory, you could add as many drops as you want.

But keep in mind, you can only get the client to a certain darkness threshold. You cannot make the skin any darker than its going to get after a certain point. There is no one “exact” amount level, as it is tied into that client’s skin tone, and body chemistry. DHA darkens the skin by a chemical reaction within the dead skin surface layer. It has a cutoff point, where no matter how much more you apply, it’s not going to get “darker” at least not “browner”. It can get more golden, or yellowy or orangey.  But it will also only do this to a certain point.

The more DHA added can also increase skin dryness. So, skin may begin to fill tighter, and dryer. It may appear more dehydrated and parched looking. This can also increase the speed and unevenness of the tan fade. And the tan can look “spotty” in the fade off when you start going to high in the DHA range for that client.

This is not a reason to be afraid of booster drops, but rather just reminders or where you may need to “back off” if you see this occurring.

Can I just use Booster Drop products as a self-tanner solution, by themselves?

Yes, but the results may not be what you expect.

I have personally used very high DHA in a liquid concentrate about 90% range, (the type used in formation and blending for making solutions) it was not an amazingly dark brown and toasty look. It was rather more of a deep golden brown – which is DHA’s normal tan color.  DHA is golden brown in its normal coloration.

I have also applied booster drops (50%) to my skin, and when applied at correct amounts, skin will darken. But for me the tone was still a bit to golden for my preference, and the fade off was splotchier then I prefer.

Other ingredients with in a solution do help adjust and tweak how DHA works and appears on the skin. This will affect color tone, fade, skin feel, and tan wear off.

Final product DHA level used is important in producing expected results.

Can I add drops to a lotion, and make my own sunless lotion product?

People do this with mixed results.  Sometimes it works great, sometimes you have a whole bottle of lotion in the trash and a streaky uneven tan.

Mixing a lot of booster with a lotion, will create a thin watery lotion. It may, or may not apply, absorb and develop evenly – depending on other ingredients in the lotion and how they integrate with the DHA.

If you only want a light “glow” lotion, you are likely to have much better results, then if you are expecting a more concentrated 6% – 10% darker sunless lotion. (most drugstore commercial lotion self-tanners are about 4%-5% DHA range. Daily use Glow lotions are about 1%-3%)

Keep in mind the recipe of 5-6 DROPS of booster drops, per 1 ounce of lotion.  Most people use about 1-2 ounces of lotion to coat the body. An 8 oz bottle of lotion will take about 40-50 drops of booster to raise the DHA level by 1%. That’s a light “glow lotion” daily use lotion range.

Depending on lotion ingredients, some need to be warmed to mix correctly, but warming or heating your DHA drops can damage them, making them less potent.

If you like to experiment, it is certainly a possible option. Just keep your expectations realistic.

Is it better to buy booster drops or a solution in a darker depth

This would depend on how often you need to darken color, and how many drops you are using., and what is most convenient for you. Ether option can work well.  Some people like to have booster drops on hand, others never use them.

Booster drops are very concentrated DHA, with a dark bronzer, as such the shelf life stability can be shorter than a regular lower DHA level solution. As your product DHA level raises, and as the bronzer tint level darkens more – product can become more finicky, and not store as well.

If you refrigerate you drops, but find you are always throwing out a mostly full bottle before you can finish the product because you do not go through them quickly enough, and they become green – then this is likely not the best value for you.

It may be a better option to purchase a smaller bottle of the darker solution, and keep this on hand, as it will likely last longer.

Since the spray solution IS the unconcentrated premixed product.  You will use more product per client.   So, you would apply 2 oz. per client.  You will finish the solution product faster, ideally before it gets old.

With Booster drops, you would be using 1-2 or so droppers full (or less depending on needs). The amount of product in your bottle overall, will be used much more slowly, and the booster bottle will last longer – IF you do not have it degrade before you can finish the full bottle)

Are you using Booster drops to raise an 8% product up to 15% or 20%? That’s using a lot of booster drops.  And adding this amount can be very tedious. That would be about 35 drops per ounce of solution (60 drops per 2 ounces). A better option would be to purchase a higher DHA level product, then add drops to that to raise overall DHA, you will be adding less drops.

Or apply an extra coat or two of solution to your client – instead of 2 oz of 12%, apply 3 or 4 ounces of 12%.  Though in humid locations, this may create a sticky finish.


Are you always adding drops, all the time, to raise a product from a 8% to a 12% for example? If you find you do this very often, then it will often be more convenient just to have a premade bottle of 12% Spray Tan Solution ready to go, then you just pour the 12% solution out for the client and spray. Rather than having to figure out how many drops, dropper them into the cup and so forth.

But if you find you enjoy creating special blends for each client, then Booster Drops are for you. In this case you can even charge a few dollars extra for a DHA POWER SHOT service, added to that client’s spray tan.

Or maybe you only occasionally need a higher DHA product, but most of your “day to day” clients use a medium blend, which you always keep on hand already. Then having the DHA booster to use on an “as needed” basis can benefit you more.

It really depends on your situation and needs. You would just go with the one most suited for you.