The first & most important thing I would like to express is that I’m in no way a doctor, & I'm not giving medical advice! I’m only attempting to relay information I have gathered so that an informed decision about spray tans & pregnancy can be made by our guests. This may be an unpopular blog to some, but it's honest, & I can sleep knowing that I have built my business on integrity. Before getting a spray tan while pregnant or trying to conceive, please consult with your OBGYN.
We do around 250 sprays a week in our busier months. Over the past six years, I’ve only had 3 doctors (to my knowledge) advise their pregnant patients against getting a spray tan out of an abundance of caution. I have been pregnant with both of my daughters & am expecting another through my sunless career so these 3 doctors opinions really intrigued me. In my pregnancy with my oldest daughter, I sprayed & was spray tanned in my basement that was not ventilated with no mask because I didn't know better. In my second pregnancy, I work a mask & took proper precautions.
Typically spray tans have been considered a safe alternative to UV exposure while pregnant. However, our industry is widely unregulated & a lot is unknown, especially when it comes to pregnancy. For one, sunless tanning, self-tanner & sprays, are relatively new. The FDA is most likely never going to do adequate testing to determine if DHA (Dihydroxyacetone) is safe for babies & pregnant mommas. All we are left with is the little information we do have, which I will break down below.
In a nutshell, DHA is the chemical in all sunless tanners that reacts with your skin to give it the brown color. In the majority of articles, DHA is considered safe when used for sunless tanning because most studies suggest it only reacts with the epidermis, the top layer of the skin. However, in one study I read, the author said that up to 11% of the DHA may penetrate deeper layers of the skin, with trace amounts potentially entering your blood stream. One important thing to note is if you are pregnant, you must wear a mask throughout your session. Just like nicotine gets into the bloodstream of a smoker, DHA could possibly enter the bloodstream this way too. This seems like a more likely concern than it penetrating the skin as mentioned above. Hopefully, more information on this becomes available soon.
What do I tell my friends who are pregnant? I tell my friends to always check with their doctor. If their doctor says it's safe, they must always wear a mask, & we only spray for important events such as maternity photos & baby showers. I would avoid an automated spray tan booth or tent, as these are not well ventilated. I would opt to spray in a studio with a professional backboard or outside, where ventilation is adequate. I hope this is helpful to anyone who is on the fence about what to do!