Is it safe to use fake tan when pregnant?

Is it safe to use fake tan when pregnant?

It’s a well known fact that life is better with a tan. There’s something about having sun kissed skin which boosts our confidence and subsequently our mood.

Looking washed out makes us feel washed out, and when your pregnant body is already working over-time to accommodate your ever-growing baba, you need as much help as possible to keep you feeling your best.

Queue, fake tan. That automatic bronze and glow can do wonders for your mood, but is it actually safe to use fake tan when pregnant? In this excerpt from Mama You Got This, an honest guide to pregnancy, expert Melissa Schweiger Kleinmann answers that question and takes a look at the science behind the rumours.


Fake tan and Pregnancy

Feeling kind of pasty? You have to be living under a boulder to not know the serious safety hazards of getting a real sun tan (skin cancer, anyone?), not to mention the leathery look that long-term sun worshipping does to your appearance. But if the pale shade your skin has taken on isn’t quite doing it for you, a fake tan can sound like the perfect way to bring your mojo back, right? Well, yes and no.

The active ingredient found in most self-tanning lotions is called DHA (dihydroxyacetone), which is a sugar molecule derived from plants. The DHA reacts with the amino acids on the top layer of your skin and in turn stains the skin brown (or, in the case of a poorly made self-tanner, Oompa Loompa orange). DHA has up until recently been thought to only affect the outermost layer of the skin (aka the stratum corneum), which is comprised of mostly dead skin cells.

However, some new information is giving people pause. A pregnant pause you might even say. Reports show that small amounts of DHA can potentially trickle into the blood-stream via topical use1. Whilst there’s no data to clearly support that DHA is harmful, even a trace amount of it in the bloodstream during pregnancy is cause enough for concern not to use it.

Is it safe to get a spray tan while pregnant?

So as with everything else in pregnancy, exercising caution is your best bet, but if you’ve got a special event (i.e. your bestie’s beach wedding in Barbados) that calls for a show of your skin and you absolutely need to use self-tanner, the safest way to apply it, especially during pregnancy, is with your own two hands, not with a spray. While DHA may be considered ok for topical use, breathing it in is another story. If inhaled into the lungs, DHA could get absorbed into the bloodstream quicker. Not to mention that when self-tanner is sprayed on, you’re possibly getting it into any open cuts on your body. While a spray tan may deliver a seamlessly bronzed look, it’s not worth it.

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Writer and expert