Sunless tanning has famously been marketed as a healthy alternative to tanning induced by ultraviolet radiation. However, there is data to support that dihydroxyacetone (DHA), the active tanning agent in sunless tanning products may have adverse health effects.

There is no such thing as a healthy tan.

DHA causes a “Malliard reaction” when contacting proteins in the outer layer of the epidermis. During the Malliard reaction, sugars in DHA react with cell proteins causing oxidation of the sugar derivatives, which causes a cascade of chain reactions leading to cell trauma and free radical injury to the skin.

DNA glycation is a process of reducing sugars that damage nucleic acids and then create Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs). AGEs are formed via the Maillard reaction caused by DHA.

Excessive amounts of AGEs in body tissues or circulation can become pathogenic, causing oxidative stress and inflammation, which alter the structure and function of proteins. AGEs have been associated with the development of chronic degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease.

Aside from the damage our DNA takes on from DHA, there are other risks associated for consumers who spray tan.

The FDA has not approved the use of DHA products applied via aerosols because of exposure to areas such as eyes, lips, nose, mouth. Some physicians have expressed concern about spray tan use increasing the risk of pulmonary diseases, asthma, and cancer.

Undoubtedly, there are consequences that come with fake tanning, whether it comes as a lotion or an aerosol.

So what can you do?

Throw away the mindset that tanning is an ideal beauty standard, and start to see it for what it really is, because it is in fact an injury to your skin that leads to premature aging.

Remember to always wear protective clothing, sunscreen like this one, and get your skin checked regularly by a dermatologist. Your natural skin tone is beautiful, and your health should always be your first choice.

Bursting your Bubble With Love, 


B;, Petersen AB;Wulf HC;Gniadecki R;Gajkowska. “Dihydroxyacetone, the Active Browning Ingredient in Sunless Tanning Lotions, Induces DNA Damage, Cell-Cycle Block and Apoptosis in Cultured HaCaT Keratinocytes.” Mutation Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 

Gallagher, Mary. “Exposure to Dihydroxyacetone in Sunless Tanning Products:… : Journal of the Dermatology Nurses’ Association.” LWW, 

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