Even though basking in the sun’s rays may feel glorious, the risk of developing skin cancer has many of us reaching for sunless tanners to get our summertime glow. But do we really know they’re safe?
The main active ingredient in the most sunless tanning sprayings and lotions — what induces your skin appear darker — is something called dihydroxyacetone, DHA, a chemical were obtained from beet or cane sugar.
DHA works by reacting to the amino acids present in the top layer of the scalp, the dead cells of the stratum corneum, to create a browning impact.( That process is the Maillard reaction .) The utilize of DHA in cosmetic products is approved by theFederal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, though it is restricted to external applications , not including the body’s mucous membranes( mouth, eyes, ears, inside the nose, urethral opening and anus ). Because tanners and bronzers are cosmetics, they do not necessitate FDA approval.
So what are the potential risks?
Medical experts have raised concerns about potential health risks associated with DHA, especially what happens if it is absorbed into the bloodstream. Studies have looked at whether DHA, when inhaled, as it might be at a spraying tan salon, could increase one’s hazard for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cancer.
Dr. Anita Cela, a dermatologist based in New York City, said that if you apply DHA in a lotion and you have no open wounds, you don’t need to be concerned about the chemical reaching your bloodstream. Additionally, according to Time, there isn’t enough evidence that depicts DHA can penetrate the skin.
“If the chemical stays on the skin and doesn’t get inhaled with the sprayer and you put it on in a lotion sort and the scalp is intact, in general, we feel like it’s safe, ” Cela said. “I believe the chemical itself we wouldn’t vouch for if it was going internally, but externally, I think we’re good with that.”
Dr. Angela Lamb, the director of the Westside Mount Sinai Dermatology Faculty Practice in New York City, agreed, saying, “DHA has been studied for quite some time and has been shown to be safe.”
She added, however, that there is always a possibility of being allergic to DHA or any of the other ingredients in sunless tanners, which could irritate or cause a reaction on the scalp.
Aside from the effects of inhaling DHA, other studies have looked at the possible connection between DHA and increased susceptibility to free radical injury when the skin is exposed to UV rays. One study published earlier this year noted, however, that using an antioxidant with a DH-Acontaining product could help minimise free radical injury.
Applying sunless tanner at night may also help prevent free radical injury, as the risk for oxidation is much lower without sunlight.
Then, of course, there’s the smell.
DHA is responsible for the terrible aroma most self tanners have.Artesian Tan, a distributor of instant and gradual tan products, says on its website, “It may be inoffensive, like the yeasty smell of cookies or dinner rolls. Although in worse occurrences, it was able remind you of the odor of old gym socks or smelly cats and dogs.”
Thankfully, more and more brands are making formulas that mask the smell of DHA with other aromas or use technology such as AromaGuard to reduce our perception of a bad odor and replace it with something better.
So are sunless tanners doing terrible things to us?
In short, it’s tough to definitively say that sunless tanning products are dangerous, as farther research on potentially harmful effects of DHA still needs to be done.
Still, when applying self tanner or get a spraying tan, it’s good practice to avoid regions like the mouth, eyes and other mucous membranes, in order to minimize any inhalation or deep absorption.
In Cela’s opinion, utilizing a sunless tanner lotion is safer than getting a spray tan. “When you get a spray tan, you’re patently going to inhale some of that, and there is theoretical evidence that it could worsen asthma or lung diseases, ” she said.
If you’re still worried, you can always avoid sunless tanning altogether and espouse the skin you’re in. And whatever you do, always, always, wear sunscreen.