“There’s no such thing as a healthy tan, and that’s what people need to understand.” – Gabrielle Union
In some parts of the world, fair skin is as much a goal as being tan is in other places. If you happen to live somewhere that covets that bronze appearance, you’ve probably considered using tanning beds, self-tanning or sunless bronzing products, and even visiting a salon for a spray on tan. Of all three options, we highly recommend skipping the tanning bed. After all, the UV exposure you get during one tanning session is “as much as 12 times the annual UVA dose” you get from actual sun exposure. Spray tanning continues to be popular, so here are some things you should know before stepping into that booth.
Let’s Talk Chemicals
The main ingredient in sunless tanning spray is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). While it’s clear going on, it interacts with your skin cells, leaving brown pigment behind. This topical tanning agent has been around nearly 100 years, and researchers consider it to be safe … for the most part. Since spray tanner comes in a mist form, you need to be careful not to inhale or ingest the product, which is why eye protection, nose plugs, and lip balm should always be using during the procedure. Aside from DHA, tanning spray may also contain alcohol, parabens (preservatives), and fragrance, so if you’re sensitive to these ingredients, you may want to pass.
How High Maintenance Are You?
If you’re opting for a sunless tan for a special occasion, like a wedding, there’s no maintenance required. Your “tan” will simply fade over a week or so, and you’ll be back to your natural skin tone. But if you’re thinking of tanning year-round, you should keep a few things in mind. First, the cost and time commitment. Depending on where you live, a single spray on tan session can run anywhere from $25–$50. If you maintain your tan on a weekly basis, you could be splashing out $100-$200 per month for that glow. And don’t forget the time commitment of driving to and from the salon as well as the time spent in the booth. Those precious minutes add up.
Don’t Be Fooled
Unlike an actual tan resulting from the sun, your sunless tan offers your skin nearly zero sun protection, as in SPF 2 at best. You’ll still need to be diligent when applying (and reapplying) sunscreen, preferably a physical broad-spectrum sunscreen, from head to toe.
Last But Not Least – Cleanliness
If you’ve decided that spray tanning fits your needs and your budget, there’s one more thing to consider – hygiene. Before you strip down, ask to see the facilities first. Make sure the area is well ventilated and sanitary. Your tanning technician is exposed to the spray multiple times a day, and it’s important that he/she takes precautions as well. Go with your gut. If something looks or smells off, just walk away.
To your skin health,
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