It can be difficult to know what you can and can't do during pregnancy. While there's a laundry list of foods that are considered off-limits and there's some guidance about exercise and traveling while pregnant, many daily activities still fall into a medical gray zone. Cosmetic treatments are definitely among these convoluted topics, so it's only natural to wonder - can you get a spray tan while pregnant?

Although doctors generally suggest steering clear of spray tans while pregnant, their reasoning is slightly more complicated. Ahead, we asked medical experts about spray tanning while pregnant, the potential risks, and why it may be best to avoid spray tanning for the full nine months. Here's everything you need to know before booking a spray tan of your own.

Can You Get a Spray Tan While Pregnant?

Most doctors wouldn't recommend spray tanning while pregnant, but the truth is, there's not a ton of research on the subject. "We don't have any literature to say whether it is safe or not to get a spray tan during pregnancy," says Christine Greves, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn at the Winnie Palmer Hospital For Women & Babies. The main concern, according to Dr. Greves, is that spray tans usually contain a chemical called dihydroxyacetone (DHA).

"[DHA] is a color additive that reacts with the outermost layer of the skin to darken it," explains Ife J. Rodney, MD, the founding director of Eternal Dermatology in Maryland and a professor of dermatology at Howard University and George Washington University. "DHA is considered safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in topical cosmetic products, including spray tans," Dr. Rodney says. That said, the FDA does discourage inhaling DHA. "They also recommend shielding the eyes, lips, and mucus membranes," Dr. Greves says. "Due to those risks, I would not recommend a spray tan while being pregnant."

Women's health expert Jennifer Wider, MD, agrees. "Studies show that [DHA] is safe when applied topically to the skin, but the jury is out on its safety when inhaled," she says. "The risk isn't fully known, therefore most medical providers will recommend avoiding it."

Risks of Spray Tanning When Pregnant

The risks of spray tanning while pregnant are not yet entirely understood. According to Dr. Rodney, one of the known dangers is the risk of a skin reaction. "There have been some reports of skin reactions, such as rashes, itching, and redness, associated with spray tanning," she says. "However, these reactions are generally mild and temporary and are not specific to pregnancy." Dr. Rodney also notes that "pregnant women may also be more prone to skin allergies and sensitivities, so it is essential to be aware of any changes in the skin after the spray-tan application."

Dr. Wider agrees that an allergic reaction is a potential concern. Still, "the inhalation of the active ingredient is potentially the highest risk to a developing fetus," she says. It's unclear what could happen to your baby as a result of DHA inhalation.

Safety Precautions to Take When Getting a Spray Tan While Pregnant

The best course of action, according to experts, would be to forgo spray tanning while pregnant. "While DHA has not been shown to be harmful to pregnant women or their babies, it is always best to err on the side of caution," Dr. Rodney says. If you still want to get a spray tan while pregnant, Dr. Rodney recommends taking a few precautionary steps:

Choose a reputable salon that uses high-quality spray-tan products or buy one that is hypoallergenic or has more natural ingredients.

Do a patch test before getting a full spray tan to check for any allergic reactions.

Avoid inhaling the spray-tan mist or getting it in your eyes or mouth.

Wear protective clothing, like a nose filter, goggles, and lip balm, to lower your risk of inhaling and ingesting the spray tan.

Moisturize your skin daily to prolong the life of the tan.

If you want a sunless tan during pregnancy but are nervous about a spray tan, Dr. Greves suggests using a self-tanning foam or lotion instead. "Fake tanning with the foam or lotion is not inhaled," she says. But, Dr. Greves points out, there's no data on the safety of foam or lotion tanners during pregnancy either. "Although there is no literature, everything in moderation. I think that it's less risky than a spray tan," she adds.

You can also consider this advice from Dr. Rodney: "If a pregnant woman is concerned about the safety of spray tanning, she may want to consider alternative methods of achieving a tanned appearance or wait until after the pregnancy."

2023-05-24T16:55:43Z dg43tfdfdgfd