Spray tan’s health risk

Friday, 15 June 2012

Spray tan's health riskGetting a little glow from spray tans in June is just the kind of pick-me-up a lot of women need to beat the Winter blues. We tend to think of them as a lot safer than direct exposure to the sun, and especially with tanning beds being a big no-no.

But a recent study from the University of Pennsylvania has found that some of the ingredients in spray tanners could be dangerous when inhaled.

Here’s an extract from what Dr. Rey Panettieri, a toxicologist and lung specialist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, told ABC News: ‘The reason I’m concerned, is the deposition of the tanning agents into the lungs could really facilitate or aid systemic absorption – that is, getting into the bloodstream. These compounds in some cells could actually promote the development of cancers or malignancies, and if that’s the case then we need to be wary of them.’

Nothing like the C-word to get our attention.

When DHA (dihydroxyacetone, the chemical ingredient that darkens skin) was approved by the FDA in the 1970s, it was being used solely in self-tanning creams, not misted out of a spray-tan gun, which obviously disperses it into the air – and into your lungs if you’re nearby. In fact, the agency tells consumers on its website that DHA should not be inhaled or ingested and that people should request measures to protect their eyes and mucous membranes and prevent inhalation.

Even if your spray tanner (who is amazing) always tells you to hold your breath when she mists your face, this may not be enough.

So here’s the question: Do you invest in a mask? Or do you give up your beloved just-back-from-holiday glow and embrace your natural skin tone once and for all?

Does the study scare you? If you’re an avid spray tanner, what will you do?

Originally written by Heather Muir, this article appeared on Allure.com.
Image: Shutterstock.com

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Written by

Megan Kakora has helped launch the websites of, and been the online editor for, some of South Africa’s biggest glossy magazines. She believes in less-is-more, except when it comes to her collection of nail polish colours.
Megan on Google+

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  1. Jansen van Rensburg

    Never thought of this, great article

    6 years ago •

  1. Chicara

    I heard about this a while ago. It’s super scary, especially for those ladies that think they’re going the safer route.

    6 years ago •

  1. Rochelle Kay

    I don’t like the thought of spray tanning and will NEVER do a sunbed. I just do my 15 min of sun a day for Vitamin D

    6 years ago •

  1. Tanya

    I don’t tan,but this surely is scary

    6 years ago •

  1. deborah-jane

    Thank you for this article. Iv been for a spray tan and after reading this article I don’t intend going again. Thank you

    6 years ago •

  1. Charne

    Scary! I’m just thinking about the mommies that allow spray taning on their little angels when they participate in beauty pagents!

    6 years ago •

  1. ricebunny

    That’s why I stay away from any type of tanning

    6 years ago •

  1. Steenkamp

    No thank you, love the natural looking skin

    6 years ago •

  1. Debsie

    OMW, and I was think of getting spray tan

    6 years ago •

  1. Maria Meyer

    Even though I look like a spook, I dont use any of the lotions, sprays or tanning beds – no matter what I always turn out Yellow! “Gifappeltjie – yellow” and dont much care for the smell of these products either, especially when you start sweating

    6 years ago •

  1. landman

    I have tried so many i am fed up because i always look like a carrot, luckily i have read this article and i will not use any of these products in the near future, rather stay a milky bar as to inhale these fumes and maybe get sick.

    6 years ago •

  1. Jansen van Rensburg

    Thought it was safe, never knew it can be so dangerous!!

    6 years ago •

  1. DIVA

    good to know, sounds a bit scary though.

    6 years ago •

  1. Guccigirl

    I’ve given up spray tans. My chest tightens and it makes me feel ill every time I breathe the fumes

    6 years ago •

  1. diamond

    Thank goodness i am naturally tanned

    6 years ago •

  1. Charles

    Never thought of it this way! Can imagine that the fumes can be very toxic!

    6 years ago •

  1. lulu

    I often wondered when studies into inhaling spray tans would be done. I have systemic Lupus and can not go on the sunbed or tan in the sun. I cant bear to go without a tan so invested in an expensive spray tan system and used it quite often. I dont use it any more because I cant handle breathing in the fumes. I have started using lotions hoping it will be a better alternative.

    6 years ago •

  1. julandism

    Scary! I think best is to just to keep self tanning / sun beds / spray tan etc to a minimum e.g. special occasions only. – Wedding / Big Birthday etc Best is always to check with your dermatologist and discuss your best options.

    6 years ago •

  1. Rochelle Stewart

    I never thought of it like this. Always considered the tanning bed as dangerous and lotions and sprays as the safer option!

    6 years ago •

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