Dangers of Spray Tanning
If you are planning a trip to somewhere sunny or going to an event where you want to look good, you may be considering using a spray-on tan. From the outside, tans look healthy.
They can make you look trimmer, and if the spray tan is done professionally, it may make you look more muscular and toned. However, there can be some dangers to using a spray-on tan.
How Spray Tans Work
Sunless tanning or spray-on tans are often considered safer than tanning booths, since you are not being exposed to UV rays. Most spray tanning products use an ingredient called DHA, or dihydroxyacetone.
DHA is a chemical derived from glycerin. It works by interacting with the amino acids in dead skin cells and changing them to a brown color. Since dead skin cells constantly fall off, your tan will only last about one week.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, DHA is the most effective and safe product for creating a tan.
While DHA may be safe for external use, it’s safety has not been determined for use in spray tans where you might inhale it. The FDA does not recommenced to have it near your mouth, nose and eyes.
The FDA states that when getting a spray-on tan, you should always cover the eyes, nose and mouth. The concern is that tanning is not fully regulated, so tanning centers do not need to comply with these suggestions.
You may be putting yourself at risk if you breathe DHA in. In addition, DHA is only one of the up to 45 chemicals that may be used in a spray tan product. Other products include arsenic, lead and mercury, all known to be hazardous to your health.
Things to Consider
While most spray on tanning products use DHA, there are some that use canthaxanthin. Canthaxanthin is approved for use in small amounts as a coloring agent, but like DHA, it has not been approved for internal use.
Products containing canthaxanthin have been shown to cause hepatitis, canthaxanthin retinopathy (in which yellow deposits appear in the retina of the eyes) and stools that are red.
The American Cancer Society also warns that spray-on tans give you no protection against sun damage, so you should still wear plenty of sun screen while outside.
Spray Tan Contraindications
The FDA does not recommend exposure to spray-on tans if you are pregnant. There have been no studies on what effects DHA has on an unborn child.
There are also concerns that during pregnancy a woman’s hormones are out of balance and may make her more susceptible to side effects.
In addition, the skin is also more sensitive. You could have an allergic reaction that might not have occurred when you were not pregnant.