DHA: Spray tan danger?

Whether you're on the beach or at the grocery store, a golden tan always looks great. But baking yourself...

Whether you're on the beach or at the grocery store, a golden tan always looks great. But baking yourself in the sun will only lead to leathery skin, and could lead to cancer. To give skin a glow without the sun, you might use one of the many sunless tanners on the market. These tanners use chemical ingredients that gradually alter the color of your skin, and you can apply them using a spray, lotion, towelettes or a mist. Sounds perfect, right? Unfortunately, some researchers now suggest that one of the main ingredients in sunless tanners, Dihydroxyacetone (DHA), could do more harm than good.

The dangers of a spray tan

DHA works with your body's amino acids to color your skin. Although previous studies indicated that Dihydroxyacetone was safe for topical use, now many scientists claim that the studies were inaccurate and skewed. According to Stanford University, Dihydroxyacetone may actually change, or even damage, your body's DNA, potentially causing a variety of cancers and health problems. If this is factual, using self-tanners that spray or mist could cause the most harm because you may inadvertently breathe in some of the tanner as you use it. Studies suggest that once the DHA gets into your bloodstream, it could alter your DNA.

Dihydroxyacetone may also cause skin irritation and breathing difficulties. If you use a self-tanner regularly and have been experiencing itchy skin, a rash or trouble breathing, talk to your Atlanta-based doctor about your concerns.


Until further studies can confirm that using tanning products that contain Dihydroxyacetone are safe, you may want to stick with products that are DHA-free. Although harder to find, tanning products created without Dihydroxyacetone will allow you to achieve the tanned skin you crave, without having to worry about DNA damage in the process. You can find Dihydroxyacetone-free self-tanners at many natural health or beauty supply stores, and you can also locate them online. These organic tanning products often use natural ingredients like henna to tan skin, instead of chemicals that can irritate and damage your skin.

Even though sun-kissed skin may look healthy, there is also nothing wrong with just letting your natural complexion reign supreme.

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