There was a time when sitting next to a pool and basking in the sun’s rays was considered a healthy activity. Many summers were spent seeing who could attain the darkest tan until it was discovered that sun bathing has a direct link to skin cancer. Too much exposure to ultraviolet rays, without the proper sun blocks to protect the skin, can cause melanomas to form. These seemingly harmless skin growths can attack the body from the inside and cause cancer to spread throughout leading to severely compromised health and possibly even death. Still, people enjoy the bronzed tint of summer skin and scientists set to work looking for ways to achieve that “healthy glow” through spray tanning.
The main ingredient found in a majority of the current spray tanning lotions and sprays is a chemical called dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA is not a dye, stain, or paint. DHA works on the dead skin cells found at the surface of the skin and creates a chemical reaction that causes the skin to look darker without permanently affected the deeper skin cells pigmentation. DHA based spray tanning solutions can last anywhere from 3 days up to 2 weeks. Some compounds also include the chemical erythrulose, which reacts to the skin in the same way as DHA but with a slower development rate. Products containing DHA and erythrulose have the potential to give an individual a longer lasting tan than might be accomplished with DHA on its own.
There is no doubt that spray tanning is a far healthier choice than sun bathing. Exposure to the ultraviolet rays produced by the sun or by tanning beds has been inextricably linked to the development of skin cancer in a high percentage of sun bathers or those that work in the sun on a regular basis. Skin cancer is a highly treatable cancer, requiring the simple removal of melanomas on the skin, if caught early. The danger, however, lies in the fact that skin cancer is very easy to overlook and often isn’t discovered until the cancer has metastasized and spread into the body. Lung cancer, lymph node cancers, and brain cancer are just some of the cancers that can result from undiagnosed skin cancer.
Spray tanning is a non-toxic option for those that want to have a tan. There is no risk of skin cancer when using spray tanning products. Lotions can be applied at home or at spray tanning salons by professionals. It is important for first timers to introduce a test application of the lotion on a skin, preferably a small patch where the discoloration will go unnoticed, and wait 24 hours to determine if an allergic reaction has occurred. A spray tan is not a sun block or sun screen precaution and those that will be in the sun are still encouraged to apply sun block as needed.