Outdoor tanning can be dangerous and increase the risk of skin cancer. Some people believe that a safer alternative to outdoor tanning is the spray or lotion self-tanners that may be considered to be safer.
The active ingredient in most sunless tanning products is the color additive, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), and DHA and spray tanning hasn't been around long enough for the testing and long term results. Sunless tanners use DHA (dihydroxyacetone) to temporarily color skin. One concern is whether the active ingredient, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), is able to penetrate the skin. To err on the side of safety, it is suggested that expecting mothers wait until after the first trimester to use any type of self-tanners.
There are no studies on whether using DHA or spray tanning during pregnancy is safe. When applied, dihydroxyacetone reacts with dead cells in the skin's surface to temporarily darken the skin and simulate a tan. The coloring typically wears off after a few days. Sunless tanners do not protect from the sun's UV rays, and additional sunscreen should be used.
These products actually stain the skin rather than absorb into the bloodstream. The risks have not been scientifically tested, but the sugar and mineral based ingredients are an indication that there are little or no risks involved. With the increased concerns for skin cancer spray and lotion self-tanning products have become more popular as the safer tanning solution.
The salon spray on tanners may be more acceptable, as long as the salon provides protection for your eyes, nose, ears and mouth to prevent inhalation of the product. The DHA in salon sprays have not been completely tested, therefore the additional protection is needed. If the salon does not provide the needed protection, it is recommended that you receive the service elsewhere.
During pregnancy some women find that due to increased hormones in their system, the smell is too overbearing and tend to steer clear of these types of products. Due to hypersensitivity it might also be possible that these self-tanners could cause skin irritation. A test should be done in an unnoticeable area 24 hours before applying to the entire body.
Bronzing powders are another safe alternative for a healthy glow if you are not able to tolerate self tanning lotions and sprays.
If there are questions or concerns talk to your doctor or OB-GYN.