Awareness For Sunless Spray Tan Users
The color additive dihydroxyacetone (DHA), used as the primary tanning
ingredient for sunless tanning booths and sprayers, came under scrutiny by the
FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in June (2003) The FDA released a statement
of position cautioning consumers of spray tanning to take precautions regarding
the "unapproved" use of DHA around the eyes and mucous membranes and to take
special precautions to avoid inhaling or ingesting the fine mist.
DHA is listed in the FDA's Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C act) regulations as a color additive for use in adding color to the human
body. Since DHA is applied as a cosmetic ingredient, as in sunless tanning,
its' use is approved for "external application". The regulation classifies
externally-applied cosmetics as those "applied only to external parts of the
body and not to the lips or any body surface covered by mucous membrane". In
addition, no color additive may be used in cosmetics intended for use in the
area of the eye unless the color additive is permitted specifically for such
Since it is difficult to avoid exposure in the manner in which DHA is not
approved, as a spray or mist, the FDA suggests that consumers ask the following
questions when considering commercial facilities where DHA is applied in this
• Are consumers protected from exposure in the entire area of the eyes, in
addition to the eyes themselves?
• Are consumers protected from exposure on the lips and all parts of the body
covered by mucous membrane?
• Are consumers protected from internal exposure caused by inhaling or ingesting
The FDA says the consumer is not protected from the use of sunless products if
the answer is "no" to any of these questions. Salons that offer sunless
services should insure that consumers are protected from exposure in the entire
area of the eyes, the lips and all parts of the body covered by mucous
membrane, and from internal exposure from inhaling or ingesting the product.
DHA was first approved for cosmetic use in 1973 as a topical substance. It was
listed with three "risk numbers" : R36 (irritating to the eyes), R37
(irritating to the respiratory system), and R38 (irritating to the skin).
info from "Looking Fit"(10/03) and "Today's Image" (10/03)