UK supply of fake tan could be threatened by shortage of key ingredient ethoxydiglycol

Some companies are saying that the UK's supply of fake tan is being threatened by a shortage of key ingredient solvent ethoxydiglycol, states a new report. 

A report run by The Guardian newspaper states that a UK-based self-tan producer, a chemical distribution company and some pharmacists have been unable to source their usual supplies of solvent ethoxydiglycol – an ingredient which is imported from abroad and used in cosmetics ingredients such as face creams, fake tan, and make-up.

Self-tanning brand Sunjunkie told the paper it has been struggling to source the ingredient after the peak summer sales season due to disruption in the global supply chain. The company has enough raw materials to keep production going until Christmas but is worried about fulfilling orders in January. 

Sunjunkie director Diane Higham told The Guardian: “It’s a total nightmare. It’s a product that goes into a lot of things and you just don’t think that you’re suddenly not going to be able to obtain it anywhere.”

She said her UK and EU suppliers do not have the ingredient in stock and some don’t know when they will be able to source it. As such, Higham is concerned about the future availability of other essential fake tan product ingredients that give a tanned colour to the skin, such as DHA (dihydroxyacetone) and erythrulose. 

“You can just see the product line suddenly coming to a halt if we haven’t got these major ingredients,” she added. UK online pharmacy Medicine Direct investigated the shortage of the product, The Guardian reported, and found it had rocketed in price from £12 to £103 a kilogram. 

Chemical distribution firm Ascot International, which sources and supplies ingredients for the personal care industry, imports ethoxydiglycol from the US and India. Managing director Nitin Sethi told the paper that the price had risen by 30% and that it had only been able to source it “in dribs and drabs”. 

He also said that other main ingredients of self-tanning products were in short supply, and that prices had gone up by 30–40%. He also told The Guardian: “A month ago I placed an order for 10 metric tonnes of DHA and I only got four tonnes between now and the end of the year.” 

Although ethoxydiglycol is not used in large quantities in cosmetics like fake tan, it will not be possible to make the products that include it without reformulating.

The Guardian also reached out to high street chain Boots who said its suppliers had not raised any concerns about future supply. 

Industry reactions:

Carrie Marsh, head VIP tanner for Norvell Tanning at Strictly Come Dancing, commented: “We have [had] no issues in supplying tanning solution to our customers or on Strictly Come Dancing. Our tanning brand ‘Norvell’ is manufactured in the United States and is the number-one tanning brand in America.

"So, don’t worry, we will keep the Strictly Come Dancing celebrities and professionals beautifully bronzed for the whole series and on the tour.”

Is your company, or a brand you use, struggling to get a hold of ethoxydiglycol? Tell us about it below.