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Sunless and Self-Tanning During Pregnancy

What Are Self-Tanners?

Self-tanners are products that contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which stains the dead cells in the skin's outer layer. The "tan" lasts until these skin cells slough off, which typically is from several days to a week.

Is it OK to Use Self-Tanners During Pregnancy?

It hasn’t been that well-studied, but there's no proof that self-tanners are harmful to an unborn baby.

Using a self-tanner is far safer than lying out in the sun and possibly getting overheated. Overheating in the first trimester can lead to serious problems for the baby. Later in the pregnancy, it could lead to dehydration or heat stroke in the mother. If you decide to try a self-tanner, it's a good idea to speak with your doctor before applying it.

What About Spray Tans?

Avoid airbrush or spray-on tans during pregnancy. The FDA hasn’t approved DHA for use internally or on mucous membranes (like the lips). Spray tans may have unknown health risks because people can breathe in the spray, or the tanner may end up on their lips or eye area.

Also avoid:

  • tanning beds and tanning salons. Tanning at a salon is just as unhealthy as tanning in the sun and also can lead to overheating.
  • tanning pills, as these are not FDA-approved

What Else Can Give My Skin a Glow During Pregnancy?

For a summer glow, you can apply some bronzer to your face, neck, shoulders, and chest. A bronzer is simply a cosmetic product that gives the appearance of a tan until it gets washed off.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date Reviewed: Jan 1, 2023

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