While it has been said that the safest tan is no tan at all, the popularity of spray tans has been skyrocketing due to the fact that people can get a healthy glow without having to go into the sun. But are spray tans truly a safe alternative?
Spray tans can give your skin a tanned look without exposing it to the harmful UV rays. The active ingredient in most spray tans is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). When it is applied to your skin, the DHA reacts with the dead cells in the outermost layer of the skin in order to temporarily darken the skin. It does not wash off but it fades as the dead skin cells slough off the body. The colour is usually gone within 5 to 7 days.
The spray tan goes on clear, and you start seeing results within an hour. It may take 8 to 24 hours for the final colour to appear. Some products contain a tint that darkens the skin right away, so you can see where the spray tan has already been applied.
When you get a spray tan from a spa, the tanning solution is generally applied to all parts of your body, including your face, to ensure an even colour. This means that the product can get into and around your eyes, near your nostrils, or onto your lips. It is best to close your eyes and hold your breath when the tanning solution is being applied. You may also want to use protective devices such as goggles or nose plugs.
DHA has been approved by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a colour additive but it has not been approved for use in spray tanning booths. Be aware that despite what some spray tans may claim, DHA is a chemical and not a natural substance. Some people have reported side effects from spray tanning including rashes, dizziness, fainting, and coughing. It is recommended that pregnant women not get a spray tan as the effect on the baby is unknown.
Just because you have a healthy glow from the spray tan does not mean that you can ignore normal skin safety. The spray tan does not contain a sunscreen, and your skin is not protected from damage. Therefore, always apply sunscreen before going outside and continue to take your normal measures against skin damage.