Why We Won't Offer Spray-On Tanning

Since the 70's sunless tanning lotions have been available for those seeking a quick cosmetic tan for a special occasion or for those desiring a tan without UV exposure. These products, having regained popularity in the 90's, have proven difficult to apply and generally gave the skin an orange, not brown, color. Technology has made applying sunless products easier with the introduction of UV-free sunless tanning booths.

Today's UV-free tanners step into a unit resembling a high-tech shower stall. With the push of a button, the unit sprays a fine mist that blends bronzers, moisturizers, and dihydroxyacetone (DHA) onto the body, providing an even, all-over application. The skin begins to darken immediately and may continue to darken for several hours. Four to five days later, the color has faded and it's time for another application at a cost of from $ 25.00 and up per session.

While it all seems simple enough, the process is a little more complicated and preparation can be time-consuming. Clients are instructed to cover their hair with a paper cap and apply a barrier cream to fingernails, toenails, dry skin areas and any other absorbent areas due to excessive staining of the skin. Be careful not to get excess cream on tanning parts of the skin as it may produce white patches. Once the session is finished, it is advised to towel off right away to prevent streaking, then lightly massage the body all over to penetrate the lotion further into the skin and even out any residue. It is recommended that you wash your hands immediately after the session. After your session, you are advised to stay dry and avoid bathing or perspiring for several hours.

Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) is the active ingredient in sunless tanning lotions and spray-on tanning. It is listed as safe for use by the FDA, although it was found lethal when injected in large doses into rats. While there is no know skin toxicity, it can cause allergic contact dermatitis. In 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.

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 manner:

• 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 this product?

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).

We are not aware of any studies showing affects of prolonged use of DHA absorbed through the skin. We do know that what is put on the skin is eventually absorbed into the bloodstream. Since we wouldn't choose to put these chemicals on our skin, we wouldn't feel right offering spray-on tanning to you.

Should you choose sunless tanning as a replacement for conventional tanning, it is critical to understand that sunless tanning is strictly cosmetic... offering no protection from sunburn and does not provide any benefit of vitamin D synthesis. Studies have shown that the sun and UV tanning are still the most reliable sources of vitamin D.

More On Spray Tanning We Think You Should Know:

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