The Hidden Dangers of Self-Tanners



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Can Using Self- Tanners Damage Your Skin?

White pasty skin may have been vogue during the turn of the century, but today everyone wants “a nice healthy glow”. Getting out in the sun feels great, but we know from study after study that exposure to UV and UVA rays from the sun (penetrate the skin layers) causing wrinkles, excelerated skin aging, discolorations, and skin cancer.

As a result many men and women turn to self tanning sprays and lotions to give their skin that “healthy sun kissed glow”. But are sunless tanners a safe alternative to sunbathing? Well, may be not…..according to some medical professionals and one German study, using a self-tanner might lead to an increase risk for skin cancer.

Free Radical Damage…Cell Damage and aging skin from self tanners? Yikes!

DHA (Dihydroxyacetone)

DHA (Dihydroxyacetone) is thought to be one of the unsafe ingredients in sunless tanners. It is the main coloring ingredient that gives your skin that golden kissed color. Studies also show that it can produce dangerous free radicals, which can lead to problems with the skins integrity. One Germany study showed a 180% increase in dangerous free radical formation during sun exposure after using a store bought self tanning product with a 5% level of DHA. This increase in free radicals from the sun exposure is most important during the initial application up to 24 hours after. It should be noted that the majority of store bought sunless tanning products contain around 3-5% DHA. Professional self tanning booth spray products can contain upwards of 15% DHA.


One more bit of bad news….There are other bad ingredients in the sunless tanning products. DHA is just one of the concerns because tanning sprays may contain as many as 45 different chemicals, including arsenic, lead and mercury. Another ingredient called Erythulose can also cause a similar increase in free radicals as dihydroxyacetone. Both erythulose and dihydroxyacetone effect the amino acids and nucleic acids which in essence is bad news for the skin.

So breaking it down……”Free Radical Damage” to cells can be increased when combining self-tanners and sun exposure.

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Source NCBI

More Hidden Dangers of Self Tanner Sprays

One very dangerous aspect of self tanners is the most convent form which is the spray can itself. Whether you have a spray tan in a salon or at home there are dangerous risk of inhalation and ingestion of the ingredients. This is not recommended! It is very important to wear protective gear that covers your mouth, eyes, nose and mucous membranes.

Some people have reported developing rashes, severe coughing, dizziness and fainting after being exposed to spray tanning. Studies have show that deadly carcinogenic chemicals can be found in hair sprays, household spray cleaners, spray home fragrances….well almost any canister type household or beauty products that can be inhaled.

If you’re pregnant, you should definitely stay away from tanning products, spray cosmetic products, and other dangerous chemicals.


What Can You Do To Protect Your Skin?

What can you do….skip going out into the sun on the day you apply any self tanner. As the studies show that it is during the first 24 hours that sunless tanner is applied that free radical are produced. If you are applying self tanner daily…skip the sun…and apply sunscreen to combat secondary sun exposure.

Yes, secondary exposure is a thing. Secondary sun exposure can happen on cloudy days, when you are in the shade, while driving in a car (riding), riding on a train, or even inside your home. The average person is exposed to 20 hours on average of indoor and outdoor unprotected sun exposure combined.

To keep your skin healthy, and looking as young as possible stay out of the sun at peak hours, cover up as much as possible. Remember to wear  a hat, long sleeves, and plenty of sunscreen when you are outside or driving in your car. 

Sun exposure is important for to produce vitamin D. It is safe to have 10-15 minutes of sun exposure for lighter skin individual and 15-20 for darker skinned individuals everyday. Medical professionals support adding supplementation in the winter of about 2,000 IUs per day and a dose of daily sunshine in the summer. That is all you need to get your vitamin D, after that play it safe…apply sunscreen, and cover up. Sun exposure is the number one cause of premature aging of the skin.

Your skin will stay younger and healthier 🙂


Source NCBI

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