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Side Effects of Spray Tanning

by Vanessa Day

spray tan side effects

When you see a girl with a flawless tan, it’s only natural to wonder how she accomplished it. Then her hand flutters up and a flash of her fingers reveals her secret. That orangey-hue on her palms is the remnant of spray tanning gone slightly awry. While spray tans offer a number of benefits over traditional sun bathing, including impressive results, orange palms are just one of the possible side effects of spray tanning.

Spray Tanning Has An Upside

When you compare spending twenty minutes laying out in the sun to ten minutes standing in a booth getting sprayed with a chemical substance, you would probably prefer the former. But health wise, the booth is the safer option. Spray on tans have become a way for people to get that sun-kissed glow without the risks of UV rays and sun damage. They are perfect for getting a little color before a trip or a special event. Since the main ingredient, dihydroxyacetone or DHA, reacts with the keratin protein on the top layer of skin, the results are temporary and the chemical is never absorbed into the skin. This is why spray tans fade after a few days, because the darkened skin is naturally sloughed off. This is great compared to the alternative of tanning beds and natural sun, because the damage effects your skin long after you’ve been exposed to the harsh rays.

Spray Tanning Side Effects

While spray tanning is a safe and effective way to get a golden tan, there are some potential side effects that can occur. The most common side effect of spray tanning is skin discoloration. The effects of the DHA chemical rely on skin tone and condition. Depending on the individual, skin may appear deep brown, yellow or orange after getting a spray tan. People with dry skin tend to form darker blotches on knees, elbows, toes and fingers. Light skin tones tend to yield a yellowish-orange hue, but this will depend on the person because not everyone experiences this side effect.

Spray tans have been praised for delivering an even application to all parts of the body, but the mist has been known to cause streaking on the skin. Whether this is due to clogged hoses and nozzles or how the solution is applied, streaky skin is not as flattering as an even coat of color. Usually this side effect can be avoided by using instant bronzers, which show exactly where the solution is sprayed. Spray tanning booths should apply the solution at least six to ten inches away from the skin in an up and down motion. Zig zag and circular applications tend to create more streaking.

The DHA chemical found in most spray tanning products has been known to cause allergic reactions in some people. If you have this particular allergy, make sure you check with a salon to see if they have any products that do not contain DHA. The chemical can also cause contact dermatitis, which is the agitation and drying of the skin. Since DHA is a sugar-based preservative, it can agitate skin, often resulting in itchy rashes. While DHA has been approved for external use, it is unclear what can happen if it is absorbed into the body via lips and eyes, so people are advised to wear protective goggles and keep their mouths closed when spray tanning. If DHA is inhaled, it can be costly to a person’s lungs, especially someone with asthma.

Another possible side effect of spray tanning is increased darkening of the skin, which tends to happen when women and men go out into the sun immediately after spraying their skin with the solution. Spray tanning formulas do not contain any UV protection, and with the active DHA present on skin, the sun can darken pigment even more, causing increased damage. This is easily avoided by applying sun screen everyday, because a spray tan provides no real protection.

Finally, spray tanning can stain clothes, hands and hair. Make sure you wear clothes that can be thrown away if stained or that are lose fitting, and do not put them on until about 20 minutes after stepping out of the booth. Wash your hands vigorously with soap and water after spray tanning; this will help you avoid those unsightly orange palms. Make sure you wear a hair net during the process, so that strands avoid the chance of discoloration.

Is Spray Tanning Worth the Risk?

For many people, especially ones with fair skin, spray tanning is the best way to get a healthy glow. And when compared to stepping out into the harsh rays of the sun, it is definitely the safer option. However, it’s important to do your research and make sure that you will not have any adverse reactions to the solution. It is important to remember that spray tanning is temporary and requires frequent reapplication to maintain the color you want. This can end up costing a lot of money. Also, if you are concerned at all about how your skin with react to the DHA chemical, it is best to consult a trained dermatologist who can provide you with more information about healthy skin maintenance.

If you think spray tanning is the best option for you, then make sure you visit a quality salon with knowledgeable professionals and quality equipment. And try to avoid the orange palms as much as you can.

For more information on tanning or the treatment of sun damaged skin, you can schedule a free consultation with a licensed skin care specialist near you. Our customer service liaisons are standing by!

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