Why using fake tan could be bad for your health

Francesca Specter
Yahoo Style UK deputy editor
Fake tan can be damaging to your health, according to an expert. [Photo: Getty]

Fake tan has long been heralded as the safe way to give your skin a faux sun-kissed glow, but it turns out bronzing lotions, mousses and sprays aren’t all that good for you. 

A key ingredient in fake tans can prevent your skin from absorbing vitamin D, an all-important nutrient for our overall health, according to Dr Ross Perry, medical director of Cosmedics UK and skin cancer reconstruction expert.

He tells Yahoo UK: “Research suggests that 85% of people may be vitamin D deficient and fake tan has been found to inhibit your skin’s ability to produce vitamin D.

“This is because the dark layer on your skin produced by the DHA results in the prevention of UVB absorption, thereby inhibiting vitamin D production.

“Fake tan contains a long list of chemical agents, many of which aren’t particularly good for you. Dihydroxyacetone which is often abbreviated to DHA, is a colour additive that darkens your skin by reacting with amino acids in your skin’s surface layer.

“It also contains between 1 and 15 percent DHA; the higher the DHA level, the darker the tan produced. The dark layer on your skin produced by the DHA can actually result in the prevention of UVB absorption as it’s blocking the creation of vitamin D.

As fake tan is made to be long-lasting, this vitamin D blocking effect can linger for up to two weeks.

Dr Perry says: “If you’re someone who has regular spray tans or applies frequently at home, you are essentially depriving your vitamin D production for weeks or months at a time with increased risk to skin cancer.

Why do we need vitamin D?

“We need vitamin D (also known at the sunshine mineral) as the sun is the greatest natural source of this vitamin.

“Vitamin D is best known for bone health, but is thought to have other important functions such as brain development, muscle and immune function, but not getting enough we’re exposing ourselves to all sorts of health problems.”

What’s the alternative?

If you are worried about the impact of your fake tan, you could try using a DHA-free wash off alternative like the St Tropez Wash Off tan range.

You could also try using a low-DHA fake tan lotion like the Green People self tan range.

Or, you could embrace the pale and interesting look and rely on safe exposure to the sun to give you a healthy glow.

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