Abstract A recent cosmetic development indicates the possibility of acquiring a suntan from a bottle without exposure to the sun. Dihydroxyacetone, the active agent in these suntan-simulating proprietaries, has enjoyed wide popularity since its introduction. Dermatologists have been asked how this material acts and whether it is harmful. This paper considers some of its properties. Chemistry The structural formula of dihydroxyacetone (1,3-dihydroxy-2-propanone) abbreviated hereafter as DHA is . DHA is, thus a 3-carbon sugar. It has been shown to be an intermediate in the metabolism of carbohydrates in higher plants and animals.1 Oral intake of large quantities of the drug is well tolerated in man.2 DHA is very soluble in cold water, ether, alcohol, and acetone; it is quite stable under normal storage. In Vivo Observations The best-known proprietary* is essentially a 5% aqueous solution of dihydroxyacetone. It is colorless when applied, but after a variable number of hours References 1. Man Tan. This investigation was in no way supported by the manufacturer. 2. Reiser, R., and Williams, M. C.: Dihydroxyacetone Esters, as Precursors of Triglycerides During Intestinal Absorption , J. Biol. Chem. 202: 815-819 ( (June) ) 1953. 3. Rabinowitch, I. M.: Observations on the Use of Dihydroxyacetone in the Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus , Canad. M.A.J. 15:374-381 ( (April) ) 1925. 4. Koch, F. C., and Hanke, M. E.: Practical Methods in Biochemistry , Baltimore, The Williams & Wilkins Company, Ed. 5, 1948, pp. 45-46.
Archives of Dermatology – American Medical Association
Published: Oct 1, 1960