Skin cancer? No thanks, but is spray tanning safe?

Published: February 09, 2021

Christmas has not long gone; the first month of the year is already behind us and no doubt many among us are planning that summer vacation in the sun. Of course, it’s always good to get a head start on the sun tan front, but where to start?

Most people will make the mistake of going for the sun bed approach; marinating themselves in oil and slipping between the stark, glowing panels of a potential cancer machine while they slow cook to death, emerging later resembling something like the progeny of an orange.

The truth is that no prolonged exposure to UV rays is healthy, and for evidence of that fact just take a look at Spanish architecture or see how Africans dress in the blazing heat. They design their buildings to shield them from the sun throughout the day and their clothes cover most of their skin to keep them safe from harmful rays.

You can look this good too.

One popular alternative to sun bed tanning is the spray tan approach where a wannabe Oompa-Loompa steps into a converted miniature car wash is hosed down a misty chemical soup and turned into a tangerine mannequin.

While many companies extol the virtues of their “safe” products (mainly the companies that make them), there are concerns to be raised and questions should be asked about the contents of spray tans.

A substance known as DHA (dihydroxyacetone) has been the centre of controversy before, but according to the trusty FDA, DHA is a sugar type substance which turns the skin brown and is completely harmless – provided it remains outside the body. Whether breathing it in or absorption through thin areas of skin is harmful or not remains to be seen, but for now, DHA is deemed “safe.”

The truth is that only 11% of the chemicals contained in spray tans are certified by the FDA, which means the rest are left to the discretion of the manufacturers. They will of course tell us their animal tested products are completely harmless and that you can go back to your vanity without fear of death.

Ok, death may be a little far fetched, but a lot of people have experienced reactions and allergies after prolonged spraying. The chemicals remain in the skin and over time have a cumulative effect which can result in blisters and rashes.

The bottom line is simple, we’re encouraged to get a tan when we go on holiday; it’s the done thing. We can’t go home until we’re crispy at the edges and our white bits are so dazzling that they cause car crashes. But the reality is that we put ourselves in danger every time we do that, as the risk of skin cancer is a very real threat. Yes, a little vitamin D provided by natural sunlight is a good thing, but baking all day like an oily spud in a microwave hammock isn’t.

If you ever need to know how things should be done, see what the locals do. They know, because they live with it.

Please share your thoughts, or bad sun tanning experiences by leaving a comment.

Read about melanoma, potential skin cancer epidemic, a vaccine for skin cancer, how teenagers are putting their lives at risk getting a tan, and the AIT machines used at airports which put you at risk of cancer.


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Published February 09, 2021 by in Health News
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3 Responses to “Skin cancer? No thanks, but is spray tanning safe?”

  1. EnvyTan

    09. Feb, 2011

    Overexposing yourself to harm UV rays, whether in tanning beds or from the sun, never results in good things happening. Too much sunlight can lead to the obvious sunburn or more trouble down the road.

    We always suggest looking sun-kissed, only a few shades darker than your natural color, rather than trying to make someone who looks like Gwyneth Paltrow look like Eva Mendes (which is typically how oompa-loompa tans happen).

    DHA, dihydroxyacetone, is an ingredient, which has been approved by the FDA for over 30 years for cosmetic applications. It is a sugarcane derivative that reacts with the amino acids in your skin to produce color changes.

    Always check to see what is in the products you are using, as some are worse than others. All of our EnvyTan products are made with the highest quality ingredients and won’t clog your pores. They do NOT contain any of the following: Mineral Oil, Lanolin, Sulfates, Formaldehydes, Paba, Parabens, or any other Chemical Stabilizers. In fact, all the ingredients are on the label and super easy to read!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Hmmm, this article seems to be bashing spray tanning and the main ingredient DHA, without much facts or citations to back up some of it’s “opinions.”

    How many other types of make up contain other ingredients that manufacturers have put into their product to give it a certain scent, color, flavor, whatever they may be that the FDA has approved of or not? Are spray tan manufacturers the only ones claiming to not test their products on animals? This is news to me.

    Cosmetics, lipsticks, perfume, etc. contain chemicals, whether they are considered natural, organic, or not. People should educate themselves before using any product.

    But from this article it sounds like “the trusty FDA” shouldn’t even be trusted. We have been spray tanning clients for many years, and no we’ve never had an “wannabe Oompa-Loompa” walk out of our salon. And not one client has ever cam back to us with “blisters and rashes.”

    Sounds like the author has never had a spray tan or even been in a regular tanning bed. I mean to describe spray tanning as: “converted miniature car wash is hosed down a misty chemical soup and turned into a tangerine mannequin.”

    Hey next time the author is in Vegas please give us a call and we’ll be glad to give you a free complimentary spray tan session. Then you can write a less bias article about spray tanning.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Natural

    09. Feb, 2011

    Interesting article, I didn’t know that DHA had ever been questioned. You mention other chemicals that are contained in spray tans, but how about companies such as SunFX who have 100% all natural ingredients in their tans. And from mine and my friends experience we have never come out orange from SunFX or any other brands that we’ve used.

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