Is it safe to use fake tans during pregnancy?Written by Andrea Taylor
Beauty Educator and Renowned Industry Spray Tan Queen
It is a question often asked and rarely answered comprehensively. In an attempt to fully answer the question and provide as much information as possible, I undertook extensive research and literature review into the subject.
What is spray tan?
The active ingredient in spray tan (or fake tan) is Dihydroxyacetone (DHA). To the lay person - DHA is a type of simple carbohydrate or sugar. It is often derived from plant sources such as sugar beet, sugar cane or even the fermentation of glycerine. It is worth noting that there are synthetic types of DHA on the market. Whilst DHA is the active ingredient in spray tan, there are other ingredients that are worthy of taking interest in concerning pregnancy and safety. They are Propylene Glycol and Erythrulose and of course a lot of tans now contain coconut and argon oil etc: in them which need to be avoided in pregnancy - this will be discussed in more detail later in this article.
How does DHA work in spray tan?
DHA works by interacting with the proteins (amino acids) of the skin cells in the top layer of your skin. In this layer, the skins cells are dead so there is no penetration into the blood stream.
The Type of DHA also makes a difference during pregnancy...
Mediterranean Tan® only uses the best DHA available on the market and has always done so! The type of DHA we use is Eco Cert approved DHA and to our knowledge we are the only brand in Australia that uses it. Our DHA is from France and is the highest grade possible. This type of DHA is the only type of DHA that is authorized to use in a certified organic product. But be wary of creative and misleading advertising as there is no such thing as a 100% organic tan!
So to the question of safety...
In the United States, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act1 (FD&C Act), Section 721 authorizes the regulation of colour additives (other than coal-tar hair dyes), including their uses and restrictions. DHA is listed in these regulations. DHA is approved for external application to the human body, which is the way these products are intended to be used. However^Weast, Robert C., ed. (1981). CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (62nd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. C-74. ISBN0-8493-0462-8..
^HSNO Chemical Classification Information Database (New Zealand Environmental Risk Management Authority), http://www.ermanz.govt.nz/Chemicals/ChemicalDisplay.aspx?SubstanceID=11687, retrieved 2009-09-03.
^Budavari, Susan, ed. (1996), The Merck Index: An Encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs, and Biologicals (12th ed.), Merck, ISBN0911910123, 3225
^ Painter, R. M., Pearson, D. M. and Waymouth, R. M. (2010), Selective Catalytic Oxidation of Glycerol to Dihydroxyacetone. AngewandteChemie International Edition, 49: 9456–9459. doi: 10.1002/anie.201004063.
^ K Jung, M Seifert, ThHerrling, J Fuchs "UV-generated free radicals (FR) in skin: Their prevention by sunscreens and their induction by self-tanning agents." SpectrochimActa A MolBiomolSpectrosc. 2008 May;69(5):1423-8. Epub 2007 Oct 10. 
^Benamar N, Laplante AF, Lahjomri F, Leblanc RM (Oct 2004). "Modulated photoacoustic spectroscopy study of an artificial tanning on human skin induced by dihydroxyacetone". Physiological Measurement25 (5): 1199–210. doi:10.1088/0967-3334/25/5/010. PMID15535185.
BMA. 2010. Alternative methods of tanning. British Medical Association.www.bma.org.uk [Accessed July 2010]