Tanning without the sun

suntanIt’s almost summer and the bathing suits, sleeveless tops and shorts are coming out. Many of us want to lose winter’s pale but worry about the dangers of exposing ourselves to too much sun. Self-tanning creams help to give you that sun-kissed glow without being exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays.

The active ingredient in self-tanners that makes your skin darker is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). (This is not the same DHA that is an omega-3 fatty acid found in some foods and dietary supplements.) DHA usually comes from plants and has been approved for use as a self-tanner by the Food and Drug Administration since the 1970s.

According to MotherToBaby, a service of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS): “There is no published information suggesting that using self-tanners during pregnancy causes birth defects. When self-tanners are used, it is thought that only very small amounts of DHA are absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin. Therefore, very little DHA would be available to get to the baby if it does cross the placenta.”

But be careful if you are getting a spray-tan. The fumes from the spray are likely to be inhaled which means that more DHA could be absorbed into your system. You may want to request a mask to cover your mouth, nose, and eyes to prevent any inhalation.

You can read the complete fact sheet about self-tanners on the MotherToBaby website. Every woman and every pregnancy is different, so as always, make sure you talk to your health care provider.

It’s important to remember that while the self-tanners may keep you from looking like Casper the friendly ghost, they do not protect you from the sun’s rays. Whenever you do go out into the sun, be sure to slather on the sunblock!

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