Many of us still haven’t heard of the harmful effects of self-tanners. Whether it be tanning beds or self tanner products, the lotions, sprays, and gels that are applied on the skin, it’s important to know how these can effect your skin, both in the short and long term. After looking for some answers, we found that self tanning is rarely, if ever, a healthy tanning option. Self-tanner use has been linked with an increase of free radical production, aging, DNA damage, skin irritation and lower levels of vitamin D. That being said, although these should all be red flags, if you must use a self tanner, all hope is not lost. There are certain things you can do to lessen some of the side effects.
Let’s first tackle tanning beds/indoor tanning and their effect of the skin and health. There are many false notions about indoor tanning that people must be aware of. Some people believe that indoor tanning is a good and safe source of vitamin D and is safer than outdoor tanning. The truth is that the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from tanning beds makes it exponentially more dangerous than outdoor tanning. UV radiation is made up of rays which can badly damage the skin and even cause skin cancer, eye diseases, premature aging, and weakening of the immune system. Thankfully, today, there are laws put in place regulating indoor tanning in many states within the U.S. to protect those who have been misinformed. Our advice to young people would be to avoid indoor tanning and tanning beds at all costs.
Next, let’s look deeper into what self-tanner products and spray tans are actually composed of. The active ingredient in basically all self tanner products is dihydroxyacetone (DHA) which causes a chemical reaction with the amino acids in the skin. This reaction is what makes the skin more brown, however it also causes quicker aging, atrophy of collagen, weaker skin barrier, dermatitis and more. Don’t be fooled by the new “DHA-Free” self tanners either. A closer look at the ingredients will reveal that the active ingredient in these products is erythrulose, an ingredient which is almost identical to DHA! The chemical reaction created by erythrulose has very similar side effects to those created by DHA.
If you’re someone who cannot fathom the idea of letting go of their self tanner there are some steps you can take to lessen the harmful effects. First, make sure to use sunscreen along with the self tanner whenever you’re outdoors. Also, consider using an anti-oxidant along with it, or a product with antioxidants within it. A great option would be Nature Only’s Natural Revitalizer, which is packed with anti-oxidants which protects the skin’s surface, regenerates tissue and skin cells, and has anti-aging qualities. Applying an anti-oxidant with self-tanner will actually help minimize the free radical damage. All this, by the way, is not to say that sun-tanning is any safer. Any time you are in the sun, especially for prolonged periods of time, it should be accompanied with sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher. And of course, always remember, no matter what, stay far away from tanning beds!
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