Reader Question: Are Spray on Tans Safe?
Question: I really appreciated the article on “Foods for Preventing Cancer”, and have been trying to stay out of the sun to prevent skin cancer. The problem is that I am a model, and compete in fitness events that require me to look tan. I switched to spray on tans when my mom was diagnosed with malignant melanoma recently. My question for you is- do you know if the chemicals in spray on tan are safe?
Answer: I am sorry to hear about your mom’s diagnosis. That is smart of you to stay out of the sun now and increase foods in your diet that are shown to be preventative for cancer. Green tea and beta carotene, found in green and orange fruits and vegetables are especially important in addition to the foods in the article written by Dr. Psenka.
I spent several hours researching the ingredients in spray on tans, and have concluded that the most common chemicals used to darken the pigments of our skin are derived from sugars or amino acids found in nature.
Erythulose, dihydroxyacetone, and tyrosine are the most common skin darkening agents, and tanning accelerators used. Diydroxyacetone has been approved by the FDA since the 1970’s so it is likely the safer choice. I like chemicals that can pass the test of time.
However, these simple sugars and amino acids are not the only chemical ingredients in spray on tans. All chemicals we put in our skin are absorbed to some extent in to our systems. I do occasionally worry that this new fad may later have inevitable health consequences as some people appear to over-do it a bit.
Anything you put on your skin also runs the risk of causing an allergic reaction, and the ingredients in sunless tanners are similarly guilty of causing “contact dermatitis”, a really itchy bad rash. So far, those are the only reported side effects I have been able to find.
Until future notice, spray on tans appear to be safe, however you are smart to be concerned about any chemicals you are spraying on to your skin. Like anything else that has not cycled safely through generations of humans, I would suggest it be used judiciously.
If anyone has any commentare to share on the safety of the chemicals in spray on tans, I would be happy to open up this discussion. Please share your research, questions, or concerns in the comments section.
Thanks for stopping by my kitchen table to ask the question!
~Dr. Nicole Sundene