The Safety of Spray Tans

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen the research showing how dangerous sun exposure can be. We’ve learned that the UV rays in the sun that damage our skin are also found in tanning beds. This might lead you to wondering about the safety of airbrush tanning as well.

Let’s start with the basics – What is an airbrush tan? How does it work?

When you get an airbrush tan, a technician uses as specialized tool to evenly spray a solution on your skin. This solution soaks into your skin and leaves you with a natural tan for approximately 7-10 days.  The solution we’re referring to contains Dihydroxyacetone or “DHA” – I know it sounds kind of scary, but DHA isn’t some sort of toxic chemical! In fact, it’s a completely NON-toxic, organic compound and it creates a reaction with the amino acids in the stratum corneum, which is the very outermost layer of your skin. This reaction is completely natural, it’s similar to the one that makes an apple turn brown when you cut into it. When you tan outdoors or in a tanning bed, the color change happens in the deepest layer of your skin, called the basal layer. UV Rays from the sun or the bed penetrate deeply into your body to initiate the color change, but it can also cause serious skin damage and even cancer. Your sun tan might be temporary, but the sun has broken down the DNA in your skin cells permanently. With DHA, nothing penetrates that deeply. The DHA stays on the surface of the skin and the reaction doesn’t affect anything below that first outer layer of skin. We are always shedding and re-growing skin. When that top skin flakes off, the color from your airbrush tan leaves with it. Nothing is permanent with an airbrush tan.

But is DHA safe?

The FDA has done extensive research and deemed DHA safe to use. You should not ingest the solution and you should not get it into your eyes, nose, or mouth. So, when you get an airbrush tan, keep your eyes and mouth closed, and don’t inhale the solution. Some people prefer to use nose clips as well, just to be safe. There are some people who have been known to have an allergic reaction to spray tans, but that’s usually due to other ingredients in the solutions used. If you’re sensitive and have many skin allergies, you might want to test a small area to see how it reacts before you do your whole body. Airbrush tanning does NOT carry the risk of skin cancer or photo-aging that the sun or tanning beds do.

There have been issues reported with other tanning products that are sometimes called tan enhancers, accelerators, promoters, or amplifiers. Many of these products interact with the sun to create an even deeper color, so they are actually accentuating the damage done to the skin by the sun itself. There are also oral pills, which are banned commercially in the U.S. and for good reason. They contain the carotenoid chemical (the same pigment found in carrots), and have been associated with a variety or disorders including hepatitis and hives.  Airbrush tanning contains NONE of these risks either. It won’t protect you from the dangers of the sun, though. So when you leave the house, you’re always encouraged to wear sunscreen with an appropriate SPF number to minimize your risk of damage from the sun.

So airbrush tanning is basically the safest way we’ve found to get a tan! It’s also the fastest. You can get a full body tan in about 15 minutes as opposed to laying in the sun for hours!  I bet you’ll be surprised to learn that it’s also quite affordable. Some salons, like Shine in Denver, even offer an option to do a mobile tanning session, where they bring the equipment to your house for you and tan you in the comfort of your own home! Give it a try and see for yourself. It’s fast, cheap, and SAFE! Why not?

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Spring Tanning Options

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Spring is around the corner and you want to start preparing for all your warmer-weather activities and outfits. Looking pale as a ghost doesn’t go well with your spring wardrobe! So what are your options to get that healthy glowing tan that will look great with everything?

Sun Bathing

You can always go outside and soak in the sun. While it might cost less than other options, it’s definitely less safe and takes a longer time to get results. UV Radiation is what creates a tan and this radiation can be very dangerous. Sun burn is the risk we most often think of. Sun burn is not fun at all. It’s painful, ugly, and lasts longer than anyone would like. But there are other dangers, too…  UV Rays are known to cause skin cancer, cataracts, premature skin aging, and suppression of the immune system. UVA rays in particular have been shown to increase the chance of getting melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer! As great as getting a perfect tan can be, it’s certainly not worth dying for.

Tanning Beds

Tanning beds work by emitting ultraviolet radiation, or UV Rays, which work deep inside your skin to change pigment and create a tan. There are two types of UV rays – UVA and UVB. Most tanning beds primarily emit UVA rays, although some “high pressure” tanning beds emit a more concentrated mixture of the two. UV Radiation is that dangerous radiation we just talked about. There are plenty of side effects to watch out for.

The FDA has banned the use of tanning beds by minors and strongly discourages people from using tanning beds for cosmetic purposes. There are simply too many risks involved. Besides skin cancer, you risk getting a sunburn, and without using goggles, you put yourself at risk of getting a condition called arc eye, or snow blindness – which is basically like a sunburn on your eyes! Talk about painful! Many tanning booths limit your exposure to 20 minutes, but depending on your skin type, 20 minutes can be enough time to cause serious damage, especially when you go often.

Why spend time and money for something so dangerous? There’s a safer alternative…

Airbrush Tanning

Spray tanning has come a LONG way since the days where it was an obvious, streaky, orange mess.  We’ve mastered the formula and the application, creating the modern airbrush tan. It’s a work of art. The artists hardly get credit though, since their work looks so natural that you’d never even know!

Airbrush tanning doesn’t create color using a dye or stain, it uses a compound called Dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, which is an all-natural, simple carbohydrate with formula C3H6O3. This skin browning effect is non-toxic and similar to the Maillard reaction. Different amino acids react to DHA in different ways, producing different tones of coloration from yellow to brown. The resulting pigments are similar in coloration to melanin, the natural substance which browns or “tans” from exposure to UV rays. But all of this takes place in the outermost layer of the skin, not deep in the lower layers like a sun tan. It’s a natural, organic reaction, not one caused by radiation. The result is a natural looking tan without the harmful side effects.

We no longer have to stand in a booth that sprays you and turn around hoping to get every inch of skin evenly either! Airbrush tans are applied using a special spray “gun” by trained professionals. You won’t miss a spot or have some areas darker than others. Airbrush tanning technicians can even apply the formula in such a way that you can add slimming contours and cover problem areas specifically.

When properly cared for, an airbrush tan can last up to 10 days. It’s a natural, organic, safe option for getting some color all year long. And best of all? It’s quick! Instead of lying around all day getting a tan, you can be in and out in 15 minutes with a full body tan, and technicians can even come to your home with a mobile station and do it for you there!

Give us a call for an appointment and see what all the fuss is about.