Summer is quickly approaching and I know many of us are putting on shorts and wishing we were just a bit more tanned!  So today I want to talk a bit about “fake tans” and what is and isn’t safe.

I know many people still turn to tanning beds to get their tan but it is definitely not the safe way to go about it.  Did you know that just 20 minutes in a tanning bed increases your chance of melanoma by 20 percent?  And each additional session after continues to increase the risk by 2%!  Also, people who tan indoors just four times a year increase their risk of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma by 15 percent. Those are not very good odds.  Why chance it?

So some people turn to spray tans to avoid sun exposure. Better, but these sprays are often full of harmful ingredients!  Most tanning sprays (and lotions) contain DHA which has a “chemical reaction with the amino acids in the dead layer on the skin surface” (source) making your skin appear temporarily darker. The FDA warns against inhaling DHA which is hard not to do if you are being sprayed with it. With salons, they generally don’t list what is in their tanning sprays so there is really no way to know. If you really want to go the spray route, wear goggles and a nose plug and have someone spray you rather than stand in a booth.

Finally, we have tanning lotions. This is generally a less expensive way to go since you can DIY at home. You can view a list of common tanning lotion ingredients here. I always turn to EWG to see how safe a cosmetic product is. Jergen’s has a very popular tanning lotion (which I used to use!) and it has a very bad rating. Some ingredients you want to avoid are oxybenzone, mineral oil, fragrance, propylparaben, petrolatum, BHT, Isopropyl myristate, Amyl acetate, Sodium hydroxymethyl glycinate and more.  Tanning lotions also contain DHA but since you are rubbing them into your skin, it is much easier to avoid inhalation.

A few safer tanning lotions include , The All Natural Face Sunless Tanning Lotion and the one I use Caribbean Solutions Beach Colours All Natural Self Tanning Lotion. The ingredients for Caribbean Solutions tanning lotion are:  Organic aloe leaf, natural derivative DHA, organic shea butter, organic squalane oil, cucumber, mandarin oil, natural vitamin E from corn (tocopherol) sorbate/vegetable grade, essential oil. This product is cruelty-free.  I LOVE it. It takes 12+ hours for the colour to really show up so you want to use it ahead of time, preferably on exfoliated skin. I recommend using it two days in a row and then repeating again once it has faded. I find it very easy to apply, smells nice and I love the colour it gives me.


Please keep in mind that you still need sunscreen, no matter what. A tan does not protect you from the skin no matter where you got it!

Featured image from here.