With Doctors warning against so much during pregnancy, today we ask are spray tans safe during pregnancy?
Are Spray Tans Safe During Pregnancy? Here’s What The Research Says
When you’re pregnant, there are a lot of foods, drinks and even activities that your doctors will tell you to stay away from. It can be frustrating, but the sacrifices are necessary to keep your unborn baby safe.
Unfortunately, many of the things women do to keep up their appearance involve chemicals that could be harmful to babies. These are things like getting your hair colored or getting your nails painted. Women are also advised to stay away from tanning beds because of the powerful UV rays.
Below, we’ll tell you more about spray tanning, so you can make an informed decision. We urge you to consult your doctor before making any choice about getting this procedure done while pregnant.
Why Get a Spray Tan?
For many women, having that sun-kissed glow makes them feel good. Especially during pregnancy, when your body is going through so many changes, it is easy to understand why a woman would want to do everything possible to look beautiful and feel like herself.
It can reduce the appearance of blemishes that pop-up as your hormones are change during pregnancy and hide stretch marks that even the best lotion for pregnant bellies struggles to cope with
Plus, spray tans are quick, easy and inexpensive. They last for about a week, sometimes more and easy to maintain.
What is Involved in Getting a Spray Tan?
In most cases, you’ll need to make an appointment at your local tanning salon or hair salon. When you arrive, a stylist will show you how to use the machine, as you will be in the room alone. Don’t worry, though.
There are always signs showing you what to do if you forget, and many machines even have a recorded voice to walk you through each step.
You’ll undress (most people choose to get their tan while in the nude), put a cover over your hair and put lotions on areas where the tanning solution could discolor your skin, like your hands and feet.
You’ll step into the tanning booth, close your eyes and hold your breath while the machine blows small bursts of the tanning agent from your head to your toes. In all, the whole process takes a couple of minutes.
What Chemicals Are Used?
The mist that is sprayed on your body during this whole process contains dihydroxyacetone (known as DHA). This chemical stains your skin by interacting with it to make your skin darker. Many people think that your spray tan washes off, but the tan actually starts to fade as your skin sloughs off.
DHA is used in many cosmetics to add color and the Environmental Working Group says it is safe when used on your skin. Yet, though it is an ingredient in products you may already use, there’s no scientific evidence to show its effect on a developing fetus. The product has not been around long enough for studies to show the long-term impact.
Warnings about Spray Tans
In general, spray tanning is considered safe, especially in comparison to tanning using UV rays in a tanning bed. But, there’s not enough research to draw a firm conclusion. The FDA recommends that you keep tanning solutions, lotions and sprays out of your mucous membranes. This includes your eyes, nose and mouth.
DHA is not supposed to permeate your skin, but a 2004 study by the FDA found that 22% percent of the chemical can be absorbed by your skin.
While that sounds scary, DHA is made of sugars and mineral compounds, so that would suggest that there is very little risk involved if it were to permeate your skin.
In fact, in 2013, the March of Dimes came out in an article saying that spray tanning while pregnancy is safe. With such a small amount of DHA that could likely be absorbed by the mother’s skin, the risk is low that the chemical would permeate the placenta.
You should talk to your OBG-YN before deciding to spray tan, so you are comfortable with your choice.
If you have made up your mind and you’re planning to get a spray tan, there are some safety precautions you can take to make the process safe for your baby.
First, call the tanning salon and make sure that they provide eye goggles and nose clips, so all your mucous membranes are covered. They should also provide a lotion or petroleum jelly for areas that don’t need tanning, like your lips.
If you’re using a tanning booth versus having a stylist spray you with an airbrush, ask if it’s possible to test the spray on your skin and see if you have a reaction.
Alternatives to Spray Tans When Pregnant
If you’re thinking that even a small risk is too much for your baby’s health, there are alternatives. You can use a bronzing powder to get an extra glow. You could also use tanning lotions. You should stay away from tanning beds and sunbathing outdoors, though.
These activities could cause cancer, and that can be passed on to your child.
The Bottom Line
Getting a spray tan while pregnant is a very low risk activity and the final decision should be based on what makes you most comfortable.
While you can enjoy the tan, you also must weigh the potential risks, especially while pregnant.
So are spray tans safe during pregnancy? Research shows very little harm could be done during a spray tan to a fetus, and it is a good alternative to using a tanning bed with UV rays.
Resources & Further Reading
- LIVESTRONG: Spray On Tanning and Pregnancy
- BabyMed: How Safe is Spray Tanning During Pregnancy?
- The Body Shop Salon: Is Spray Tanning Safe While Pregnant
- SelfTanning.com: What is Spray Tanning?
Ellen Fetters, is a former Children's and Young People's Nursing Practice with an BSc from the University of Sunderland. After completing her SCPHN - HV she then worked as a Health Visitor within the local community.
In 2017 Ellen left nursing to launch Parenting Click, an online parenting resource aimed at creating happier families through better parenting.
She lives with her husband, beautiful baby girl, and two darling dogs. She spends her free time writing, running and learning how to become a better parent.