A spray-on tan can help darken your skin and give you a healthy glow, especially important when you're feeling pale and frumpy from pregnancy. But before you head to the tanning salon for a spray-on tan, ensure that it's a safe option for both you and your baby. When in doubt, calling your OB/GYN for an opinion can help you feel confident about your decision to get a spray-on tan while pregnant.
All spray-on tanners contain chemicals that react with the surface of your skin to create a darker appearance. Dihydroxyacetone reacts to your skin so that it doesn't wash off, but rather the outer layer of skin sloughs off over time to reduce the appearance of your tan. Dihydroxyacetone is approved for use as a color additive in cosmetics, notes the Environmental Working Group, and it is safe for use on your skin.
A study performed by the Skin Absorption and Metabolism Section of the FDA, with results published in a 2004 issue of "Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology" found that as much as 22 percent of DHA could be absorbed into the skin, rather than only laying on top. Unfortunately, the effects of absorbed DHA have not been studied in pregnant women. Using spray tan around your eyes, nose and mouth could be detrimental. If you have breathing problems or allergies, it's best to hold your breath and keep your eyes closed through the application process.
A spray-on tan has been deemed safe for pregnant women by the March of Dimes, and it's much safer than tanning alternatives. The March of Dimes does recommend that you test a spray tan on a small area of the body first, as your skin can become more sensitive during pregnancy and spray tanning agents could cause a reaction.
When the alternatives to spray tanning are considered, spray tans come out on top as the best choice for pregnant women. Laying in the sun to get a tan while pregnant could cause skin damage to your sensitive skin. It can also exacerbate melasma, or "Pregnancy mask," which results in dark splotches on the face. Using a tanning bed while pregnant is especially harsh on your skin and body, warns Sandra Johnson, dermatologist for Babycenter.com. Lying on your back for an extended period of time can reduce blood flow to your baby, and using a tanning bed can increase your risk for melanoma.
Using a spray tan while pregnant can help boost your confidence when it comes to your changing body shape. The tanning solution can also help moisturize dry skin for more comfortable stretching. If you decide to have a spray tan while pregnant, let the tanning salon know you're expecting; they may offer different formulations and techniques when spraying a pregnant woman.
- Environmental Working Group: Dihydroxyacetone
- "Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, Mar. 2004": Fate of Chemicals in Skin After Dermal Application: Does the in Vitro Skin Reservoir Affect the Estimate of Systemic Absorption?; Yourick JJ, Koenig ML, Yourick DL, Bronaugh RL.
- Babycenter.com: Is It Safe to Use Sunless Tanning Lotions or Tanning Beds While Pregnant?