Is It Just Tingle Or A Toxic Chemical Reaction?

It is not surprising that so many people experience skin reactions to many tanning and skincare products on the market today. Many tanning products contain chemicals that could one day prove to be more harmful than helpful, not only to your skin, but to your health as well.

In the past few years, specific chemicals, like methyl nicotinate, have been added to many indoor tanning products to purposely cause the skin to redden so that the tanner will feel they are getting instant results from the product and the tanning session. In reality, they are more-likely getting an allergic reaction from these "cheap" chemical ingredients. Results can be extreme redness, red streaks or blotchy patches of skin. Masks must be worn by chemists preparing these products to prevent shortness of breath from these chemicals. These products, are commonly referred to as hot, spicy, or tingling to the skin. Although they are relatively inexpensive to produce they can sell for as much as $60.00 a bottle.

Another way of causing an adverse reaction to the skin, according to our chemist, Dan Bayer, is excessive use of preservatives like Propylene Glycol and Butylene Glycol. Many manufacturers are using these as part of the base of their products. While these preservatives, if used, should appear near the bottom of the ingredient label, they are found near the top of the ingredients list. The greed of the manufacturers is further supported by the lack of product knowledge of the tanning salon operators taken in by the hype of these products through creative marketing campaigns.

Would you knowingly apply anti-freeze, cleaning solvents, or motor oil to your skin?

As the cost of safer preservatives continues to increase, and since the FDA doesn't regulate the cosmetic industry, expect to see ingredients such as Butylene Glycol being used in many popular tanning products, even those selling for more than $50.00. Butylene Glycol is a humectant most resistant to high humidity and also being used in hair sprays and setting lotions as a preservative and to retain scents. It is known to be similar in toxicity to ethylene glycol, found in antifreeze and solvents. According to "A Consumer's Dictionary Of Cosmetic Ingredients" (Ruth Winter, M.S.-1994 edition), Butylene Glycol is one of the few humectants not on the FDA's Generally Recognized As Safe List, although efforts to place it there have been made through the years.

Many products also contain petroleum based ingredients such as mineral oil, petrolatum or paraffin that are derived from the same crude oil used to make gasoline and motor oil and will cause reactions in certain skin types.

According to certified nutritionist Robert Crayhon, M.S. (Nutrition Made Simple), "toxic chemicals in many tanning lotions may damage the skin when mixed with free-radical producing sunlight." He suggests choosing sunscreens and tanning lotions that are rich in antioxidants and as low in synthetic chemicals as possible.

Like everything we put on our skin, these ingredients are absorbed and eventually end up in the bloodstream. It may take years before we realize the health effects of these chemicals in our blood.

The purpose of tanning salons should be to minimize the clients chances of burning not cause it or create allergic reactions on purpose. The responsible tanning salon operator should never lose sight of that. The time has come for all retailers of cosmetic and skin care products to take responsibility for what they are selling. If they are more aware of the potential short and long term effects caused by the ingredients in their skincare products they may think twice about putting it on their shelves in the first place. If manufacturers can't find a market for their junk, they won't make it anymore.

There is nothing more valuable to us than maintaining a client's trust. To offer products like these would only serve to diminish that trust and make a mockery of what we stand for.

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