Tanning or Toasting? The Dangers Of a Spray-Tan

As summer months have dreamed themselves back into existence, one of the most damaging fashion trends has also recurred: the tan.

It is agreed that tan beds are a complete no-go, especially for anyone who has experienced, first or second-hand, the ruthless wrath and prevalence of skin cancer. Yet still, in the UK, melanomas are one of the most common cancers in young adults aged fifteen to thirty-four.

Despite prudence incurred by the statistics, people of all ages still strive for the perfectly tanned ‘beach body’, its popularity heightened in the wake of influential seasonal television. Standards for the ‘summer glow’ are portrayed on popular shows such as ‘Love Island’, whereby contestants spend hours upon hours outdoors in sun-soaked Spain, normalizing excessive UV exposure.

Hence, sunbathing is an activity that continues to proliferate in beach resorts over the summer months. The attraction has always been unbeknown to me; acquiring sunburn just once every two years could triple your risk of melanoma, according to Cancer Research UK.

Thankfully, fake tan has continued to be a viable and effective alternative, its use unlikely to provoke any detrimental health conditions.

But what if I were to tell you that fake tan isn’t so risk-free after all?

DHA, a sugar, is a vital active ingredient in fake tan. Following a chemical reaction that produces melanoidins after you apply the product to your skin, DHA turns the upper layer of dead skin cells brown. Research has shown that when you use self-tanning products, you are actually just ‘toasting’ yourself; the same browning effect happens to bread.

But that’s not the worst of it. Inhaling DHA from spray-tans is a cause for concern: it could damage your DNA as it enters your lungs, “aid(ing) systemic absorption” (the absorbtion of potentially toxic DHA into the bloodstream) explains Rey Panettieri, MD, toxicologist and lung specialist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, to ABC News. According to Cancer Research UK, DHA’s long-term risks are still very much unknown. So, opt for some self-tanning cream or oil rather than the spray alternative. There are a few organic options on the market, such as Dr Organic’s Moroccan Glow Mousse.

Otherwise, ditch the chemicals and indulge in some refreshing and re-hydrating carotene-rich carrots and tomatoes, to truly attain that summer glow the natural way. Accept that your natural complexion is unique and beautiful, and go fake-tan-free!