Spray tans are safe


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Well-Known Member
Sep 23, 2008
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You may have read stories in the media reporting on claims in the US that using self-tanning sprays may not be safe. We would like to allay any concerns these articles might have caused and assure the many consumers who enjoy sun-less tanning may continue to do so, confident in the safety of their products.

The recent ABC News article responsible for this furor is old news regurgitated; this type of negative press is promoted primarily by UV Tanning Industry Lobby Groups

ABC should have revealed it was using a biased source - Joe Levy of the International Smart Tan Network, who presented ABC with a critique of one of the more recently published studies is part of a lobbying group for the UV tanning industry, bankrolling the UV industry's fight against restrictions on UV tanning. Spray Tanning is seen by many in the UV tanning industry, as the greatest threat to their profits so its no surprise that they would be keen to promote this type of negativity

The Smart Tan Network's involvement in the story is why the focus was on DHA and not on any of the many other ingredients found in spray tanning solution; DHA is what the UV industry worries about most!

Dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which chemically reacts with the amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) in the dead layer of the skin’s surface and causes a colour change which results in the ‘tan’ effect. DHA has recently been reviewed by the European Commission’s independent expert scientific committee (the SCCS), which advises the Commission on scientific matters and the safety of cosmetic ingredients. The SCCS looked at data to support the use of DHA in cosmetic formulations
The SCCS addressed the question of the product possibly being inhaled from self-tan sprays, and says “that the use of dihydroxyacetone as a self-tanning ingredient will not pose a risk to the health of the consumer”.
As well as this endorsement on the safety of DHA itself from the SCCS, it is important to stress that in Europe the manufacture and import of all cosmetic products are covered by strict safety laws. There is a legal requirement that every cosmetic product must undergo a safety assessment before it is placed on the market.
The ABC article was primarily concerned with repeated product use by the Professional spray technician, who has a different exposure level, compared to that of the occasional client.

The Doctor in the article did not say sunless tanners were unsafe. Instead, It was concluded that, there should be more studies. Naturally the headline became "DHA Health Risk."!

Based on all current information, taking in all studies presently available, along with the historical use of DHA both applied topically (for the last 80 years, 40 plus years by consumers), and sprayed on (for the last 20 plus years) – There is no conclusive evidence of a problem when used correctly, at correct dosage levels, in a manner consistent with normal tanning applications.

Keep in mind, consumers, from all walks of life, all health conditions, pregnant and non-pregnant - have been breathing in, ingesting, and applying sunless products for many years now and it hasn’t been seen as a real health concern yet.

Exceptions would apply, as with any standard cosmetic ingredient, in cases of individual sensitivities, or allergies, or those with compromised respiratory function. But the sensitivity levels for sunless products, are still within the normal ranges for all cosmetic products currently on the market.

These clients should always receive advise from their Health Care provider before using any products or services, they may have a sensitivity to.

What we recommend:

Be honest with clients. This is not new news, it is old news. The most recent study cited was 8 years old. And studies that indicate DHA is safe for use were not mentioned.

Technicians should provide up to date equipment like the MaxiMist machines, with correct product atomization levels, which will help to reduce airborne solution. Never use DIY units or cheap ill-designed imports from China, these are not going to apply the solution properly and will disperse more products in the room and air.

All clients should be provided with protective items, such as nasal filters, disposable under garments and barrier cream (which could be used as a lip-balm).

Technicians should always use nasal filters or face masks and most important of all, ensure there is adequate ventilation or extraction. If you blow your nose at day's end, and see evidence of tan solution in your tissue, then your room is not well ventilated.

Having a proper Spray Tan extractor will help. Avoid machines using 3 to 6 blades (like a propeller), they are ineffective and will not be powerful enough to draw the solution out of the atmosphere and through the filtrate material

Obtain written approval from a medical provider before spraying any client who may have sensitivities that indicate use of a self tanner may be problematic. Or who have a known sensitivity or allergy to any ingredient in your solution blends, or skincare products.

We provide ingredient information listings on the labels of all of our products, for the use of technicians.

Obtain medical approval before spraying pregnant or breastfeeding clients, and require use of protective items.

Do not spray clients with compromised respiratory conditions, or impaired lung health.


Well-Known Member
Mar 3, 2011
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North East
Agree with most of Suntans post.

However, the market here in the UK is unregulated. There is no requirement for manufactures to have their products tested. This should be changed and we are currently discussing the issue with the UK government.

The research papers at the route of this piece have not been published and therefore have not been peer reviewed. I think Suntans observation re the UV industry pushing this is almost certainly accurate although there is no way of knowing as the documents have never been published.

To be absolutely clear Spray Tanning solutions have been approved by the FDA for spray use and Aviva Labs is one of them. The guide lines are easy to follow and practical. We feel this report is very poor, never the less it has highlighted that many professionals have no idea about the advice they should be giving their clients.

The principals laid down by the FDA are these:-

1. DHA is safe and approved for use in spray tanning products.
2. Contact with mucus membranes is not approved. This does not mean that DHA is unsafe in this context it has just not been tested.
3. Inhalation is not approved. Again this does not mean that DHA is unsafe in this context it has just not been tested. At this time there is no evidence that DHA is dangerous.

So that's the background.

The important thing is to reassure your clients and give the correct advice, which by the way has not changed, and is pretty straight forward:-

1. Offer your client nasal filters.
2. Offer your client eye protection. (Winkies)
3. Offer your client a lip balm
4. Offer you client a thong

Do this and assuming your product is FDA approved your clients can be sure they are absolutely safe.


the original not the fake
Premium Geek
Nov 11, 2007
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in a wonderful place ;))
Self regulation here in the UK is essential in order to prevent forced regulation and the sooner we do this the better for us all

Its time for manufacturers to act responsibly as a whole and stop this ever increasing trend for stronger and stronger DHA formulations that beyond 16/18% are simply marketing ploys ...it will indubitably be our downfall if this trend continues.

Lets act responsibly in best protecting our sector and those that we offer treatments to :hug:

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