Lots of people like to have a tan to give them a healthy glow, but with serious health concerns over natural tanning and exposure to synthetic ultraviolet rays in salons being at the forefront of our minds, nowadays more people are opting for sunless tanning products as the safe option.
Fake tan sales are worth an estimated £100 million a year and are the fastest-growing area for cosmetic sales. A third of women and one in ten men admit to using the products.
However there are hidden risks in exposing yourself to sunless tanning treatments – using spray tan without an appropriate patch test can cause an allergic reaction, for example.
Recently, however, fake tan products have come under greater scrutiny as investigations suggest that the cocktail of ingredients used in their composition could pose serious health problems to users, including infertility, cancer, diabetes and obesity.
Most sunless tanning products contain a chemical called dihydroxyacetone (DHA) as the active ingredient. DHA, which has been used in cosmetic preparations for many years, is colourless and interacts with dead skin cells to produce a temporary brown color change.
DHA has the potential to cause genetic changes and chromosome damage that could lead to cancer as well as birth defects if absorbed into the bloodstream.
While fake tan products are approved to contain DHA because of the perceived low risk of DHA absorption into the body, the arrival of spray-on tanning products has given medical experts cause for concern.
When spraying fake tan product on to the body, DHA can be inhaled and so absorbed into the bloodstream. This development is very worrying, and more in-depth studies need to be done on the DHA found in spray-on tans because of these very concerns.
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