Spray tanning has been around for a long time. It was first approved by the FDA in the 1970s. What is basically known as a “spray tan” today can be traced back to the 1920s when various powders and cosmetics first came into us to mimic a real tan produced by the sun. Without a doubt, spray tanning has a decades-long reputation as being a safer alternative to baking one’s skin under the sun, or with the artificial UV rays provided by a tanning booth.

Today’s cosmetics market is saturated with a variety of different products that can be bought and used at home, for anyone wishing to gain a healthy, sun kissed glow without spending hours either working or sitting outside, or even worse, visiting a sunbed salon for an ‘indoor tan’. Any product that comes to the market and is intended for cosmetic use, has to go through a rigorous process of skin safety testing so that consumers can apply the preparation and now that a) it will work and give them the tan they desire and b) that the tan will last a long time without causing detriment even to the most sensitive of skins.

That doesn’t mean that all products are safe for everyone to use, and caution should always be advised when selecting a self tan product for everyday use. There have been scare stories in the news about the actual true safety of spray tans, and it is true that they do exist. They’re relatively minimal, but it’s important that you’re aware of them if you plan to embark on using a product like this, especially if it’s for the first time.


So while spray tanning is generally safe, there are some dangers everyone should be aware of before submitting to an all-over application of skin-tanning substances. The primary ingredient in spray tan cosmetics is a form of sugar called DHA, which stands for “dihydroxyacetone.”. This substance was first noted to have a positive effect on the coloration of the skin as far back as the 1920s when scientists who were developing X-Ray technology found that applying it to the skin cause it to deepen in color and go brown, without causing any real detriment to the upper or lower layers of the epidermis.

DHA is derived from sugar beets, sugar cane or the fermentation of glycerin. The primary danger in applying this substance to the body surface is the possibility of inhalation of some of the spray. Though this only applies to people who may use spray tanning booths at the salon on a regular basis. There is little chance of inhalation from the use of DHA containing products at home, if they are simply being applied with a mitt or as a body lotion, like so many of these products are.

Tanning SalonThe only real major negative concern regarding spray tans is the possibility that they may cause issues with premature skin ageing if not used in conjunction with a good quality body moisturizer before and after application.

DHA can have a potentially very drying effect on the skin if used on a regular basis and if proper care isn’t taken to ensure that skin is appropriately moisturised afterwards then problems can occur. Before use of a spray or faux tan at home, exfoliate your skin properly and be sure to apply a good quality body moisturiser every day after your application. Some faux tans are now supplied in ‘gradual glow’ formulations which contain lower levels of DHA encapsulated in emollient ingredients which mean you will develop a longer lasting tan over a slower time frame, but with the added benefit of not needing to use a body moisturiser as well as a separate tanning product.


The main precautions spray tanners need to take is to make sure that DHA spray is not inhaled during application, and that no cuts or sores are present. Some experts even suggest wearing a breathing mask and eye protection during spray tan. It’s important to note that a spray tan also does not provide protection against the sun as does a proper sunscreen lotion. If you’re going out in the sun you must always apply a broad spectrum SPF no matter what the time of year and even if there is cloud cover as you can still absorb UVA and UVB rays on gloomier days.

Millions of people get spray tans every day and most don’t wear masks or eye covers, and most suffer no health or skin problems in the short or long term. After decades of experience, only a tiny amount of cases show that health problems resulted, according to the Mayo Clinic, so you can faux tan safely, whilst still being skin aware