Health and Beauty

sunless tanning reviews 2011

Sunless tanning safer but can have a dark side

Dr. James Beckett, a dermatologist at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, says sunless tanning creams containing DHA appear to be a reasonable alternative for those who can't resist the appeal of a tan-looking skin. "They are much safer than sunbathing," he says. But though he's never seen patients with an allergic reaction to DHA itself, he believes it's possible for people to develop a reaction to the preservatives, perfumes and other ingredients in tanning products. Indeed, the FDA has received a few reports of allergic rashes from the items.

No studies have looked at health effects of regular, long-term use of sprays and creams containing DHA, but Dr. Martin A. Weinstock, professor of dermatology and epidemiology at Brown University, says there's no reason to expect any danger. "We do have a number of years of experience with people using [the products], so we have a fair amount of confidence that they're not harmful," he says.

But some of that confidence about safety disappears when a person walks into a spray-tan booth that provides a full-body blast of tanner, warns Dr. Jennifer M. Fu, a dermatologist at Solano Dermatology Associates. "We don't know if dihydroxyacetone is safe for use around the eyes, lips or other mucous membranes, or for inhalation, ingestion or absorption into the bloodstream. Appropriate safety studies just haven't been done," she says.