Advice on the safety of using fake, self and spray tans during pregnancy
There are a huge variety of self tanning products available on the market ranging from those that provide instant colour to those that build colour gradually over several days. Although they are fantastic for giving you a bit of a 'glow' when you don't have the opportunity (or weather) to get a real tan, it can be difficult to know whether self tans are safe to use during pregnancy.
At a time when you become particularly conscious of the chemicals you are putting in and on your body, using a colour-altering substance can seem quite extreme. However, current NHS guidelines suggest that with sensible use the majority of self tanning products are safe to use throughout pregnancy and can in fact be a better alternative to spending time sunbathing or using a sun bed. However, as the widespread use of self tanning products is a relatively recent phenomenon there is no long term research into their actual effects during pregnancy.
It is thought that most self tans only penetrate your outermost layer of skin and so are not absorbed into your body - which is why the colour they produce fades after a couple of days. The active ingredient used to give you a darker colouring is called DHA (dihydroxyacetone) - it reacts with the dead skin cells on your body to produce a brown (or orange if you are unlucky!) pigment. Once these skin cells are shed, the colour is too.
However, one of the main risk factors with self tans (aside from streaking) is that they will cause an allergic reaction. This is a particular risk during pregnancy as your skin becomes a lot more sensitive to chemical substances because of all of the hormonal changes your body is going through. For this reason you should always do a patch test before covering your body.
If you are using a fake tan for the first time or are planning to have a spray tan in a salon, it is best to check with your doctor for current recommendations. Additionally, you should always check the packaging of the self tan product for any pregnancy related guidelines before you apply it - if you are unsure of its suitability contact the manufacturer.
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