Why do some fake tans give the look of Tiger Bread when wearing off?

The main active ingredient within all fake tanning products is known as Dihydroxyacetone or DHA. DHA is derived from natural sugars and reacts with the amino acids, proteins (Keratin) within the skin. DHA does not penetrate any further than the top out layer of the epidermis (skin) known as Stratum Corneum. To fully understand why fake tan’s gives that Tiger Bread appearance, you first need to understand what the product is applied to – the skin.

Our skin has 2 main layers: Dermis, meaning hidden skin, and the epidermis, meaning above the skin. There are 5 layers for the epidermis and each layer (stratum) has their own function and purpose. Starting from the outermost layer:

  • Stratum Corneum- Horny,
  • Stratum Lucidum,
  • Stratum Granulosum- Granular,
  • Stratum Spinosum- Spiny and
  • Stratum and Stratum Basale which is the deepest layer before the dermis.
    These 5 layers of the epidermis are constantly transitioning to the next upper level for the skin to renew and exfoliate naturally. Just like every person’s finger print is different, so too is the rate of movement for the skin cells to transform from one layer to the next.

When we naturally tan from ultraviolet sunlight, our epidermis absorbs this light and penetrates to the deepest layer, Stratum Basale or Basal layer. The melatonin (pigment) held within this epidermis Basal layer produce melanocytes, which in turn create darker pigments. Whereas, when we apply fake tan on the skin, the tan only adheres to the Corneum Horny layer, giving temporary 7- 14 days fake tan results.

The Tiger Bread effect is normally due to cells of the Stratum Corneum- Horny layer becoming overly dry, which in time have contracted (shrunk), causing deep furrows.

9 tips on how to best prepare for a fake tan and reduce the effects of Tiger Bread fake tans.

  1. Prior to the application of your fake tan, shave and gently exfoliate the skin’s surface ensuring that you focus on your knees, ankles, toes, elbows, heels and any other calcified or rough areas on your body. However, if you have sensitive skin, prepare 24 hours earlier to reduce any skin sensitivities. This step will definitely reduce the effects of Tiger Bread fake-tan by helping with removal of dry & dead skin cells.
  2. Most tanning applications are applied naked to reduce the effects of uneven tanning lines caused from underwear or other items of clothing. After the application of your tan, it is recommended that you wear loose style underwear (such as boxer shorts) or simply arrive/leave ‘Commando style. When the fake-tan is processing, you want to remain free from clothing as possible, to allow all the ingredients such as humectants to also absorb into your skin. Humectants are great for the moisturisation of your fake tan.
  3. Wear loose-style clothing wherever possible. Anything abrasive against the skin is literally abrasive.


  1. Avoid cleaning your skin using alkaline PH based soaps. Microfibre by itself is amazing for gently and effectively cleansing the skin without causing dryness and irritation. Our skin naturally has a PH of 5.5 to 6.5 (acidic). The best types of cleansing products to use on your skin should be 5.5 to 6.5 (acidic). You can test your products by purchasing Litmus strips. It’s not only a fun activity but informative too.


  1. Hydrate your body. Drink water, and then drink some more. Evidence shows that when we drink more water our skin changes for the better. Internally, if we are dehydrated, our skin will be the tell-tale and also appear dehydrated.
  2. Eat healthy nutritious foods – the types of foods that assist in cell production. Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, kale, cabbage, Bok choy, garden cress & Brussel sprouts (yes, Brussel sprouts) are some of the best foods for stem cell growth. These vegetables are full of the sulforaphane compound which boots enzymes in the liver, that counteract harmful toxins we might digest or breathe in.
  3. Avoid smoking – easier said than done I’ve been told, but direct and passive smoking has a detrimental effect on your skin.
  4. Avoid aluminium-based deodorants or powders or any other additional fragrances applied to the skin’s surface. I’m not suggesting to walk around with only blow flies as companions. There are so many safe, gentle alternatives, instead of aluminium-based deodorants.
  5. Lastly and most importantly, moisturise your skin daily, if not twice a day. Ensure that you use our moisturiser ‘Hydrasoft Daily Moisturiser’, that is super fine and wont clog up your pores making your skin sweat. Remember, on the day of your fake tan, only moisturise your knees, ankles, toes, elbows, heels and any other calcified or rough areas on your body to reduce the Tiger Bread Tan marks. 

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