Spray tans are safe

29 November 2012

You may have read an article in The Sun (29 November 2012) reporting on claims in the US that using self-tanning sprays may not be safe. We would like to allay any worries this article might cause to the many consumers who enjoy sun-less tanning, and those who work in salons providing this treatment.

There are no links between the use of dihydroxyacetone (DHA, the most commonly used self-tanning ingredient) and cancer, as asked in The Sun’s headline. Furthermore the article is not based on any new research. In fact a similar story ran in the summer, when the CTPA explained that, in Europe, all cosmetic products are covered by strict safety laws so we can be extremely confident in the safety of DHA, not least because the European Commission’s independent expert scientific committee (the SCCS) has recently looked at data to support the safe use of DHA in cosmetic formulations and its use in spray cabins.

The SCCS specifically addressed the question of the product possibly being inhaled from self-tan sprays and says the use of DHA as a self-tanning ingredient in spray cabins will not pose a risk to the health of the consumer.

In addition, we can all be reassured that in Europe there is a legal requirement that every cosmetic product must undergo a safety assessment before it is placed on the market. The assessment is carried out by specifically qualified assessors and covers all of the ingredients, the final product, how and where the product is to be used, how often and by whom. Cosmetic products also have to carry instructions or any necessary precautions for use.

The assessment also includes allergy safety. However, almost any substance, natural or man-made, has the potential to produce an allergic reaction in someone. As with some foods, you may not know you are sensitive to a cosmetic ingredient until you try out a product and have an adverse reaction. If you do have a reaction to a cosmetic product, always contact the manufacturer (careline or helpline numbers are provided on the pack). They will then be able to advise you further on what action to take next. If the reaction persists or recurs or you are otherwise concerned you should consult your GP.

It is worth noting that the article in The Sun refers to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and asks why non-FDA approved salons are allowed to operate. All cosmetic products available in the UK and Europe are subject to strict cosmetic safety laws and the FDA does not have any jurisdiction in the UK and EU, so this question is only relevant to America.