Fake Tanning during Pregnancy

It is safe to wear a fake while pregnant as there is no evidence that suggests any harmful effects of fake tanning during pregnancy. However, I would be very cautious to choose self-tanning foam applicators rather than spray tanning formulations due to the fine mist that flies around the tanning booth. I’m not suggesting that tanning spray partials are unsafe!  Both self-tanning foams and spray tanning are extremely safe. What I am suggesting is to be on the safe side and purchase a self-tanning foam instead, to remove any risks that may be associated with the fine mists.

How is fake tanning so safe when I am pregnant?

The main active ingredient within all fake tanning products is known as Dihydroxyacetone or DHA.  DHA is derived from natural sugars and reacts with the amino acids, proteins (Keratin) within the skin.  DHA does not penetrate any further than the top out layer of the epidermis (skin) known as Stratum Corneum.

DHA was first discovered in the 1920, by administering orally, cough serum to sick children/ patients in the hospitals.  What was evident was the visual after effects of the oral serum, turning the sick children’s skin brown.  Now, this doesn’t mean that after you read this, you go out, purchase a tanning foam and pour yourself a glass of self-tanning lotion. What the evidence proved was that the children did not get any healthier on DHA rather tanned, wherever the solution touched.

DHA does not penetrate any further than the top out layer of the epidermis (skin) known as Stratum Corneum. To fully understand how fake tanning works, you first need to understand what the product is applied to, “The skin”.  Our skin has 2 main layers: Dermis (meaning hidden skin) and the epidermis (meaning above).  There are 5 layers for the epidermis and each layer (stratum) has their own function and purpose. Starting from the outermost layer:

  • Stratum Corneum- Horny,
  • Stratum Lucidum
  • Stratum Granulosum- Granular
  • Stratum Spinosum- Spiny
  • And, Stratum Basale- Basal layer which is the deepest layer of the epidermis, just before the dermis.

These 5 layers of the epidermis are constantly transitioning to the next upper level for the skin to renew and exfoliate naturally.  Just like every person’s finger print is different, so too is the rate of movement for the skin cells to transform from one layer to the next.  The speed or rate in which the epidermis transforms may vary dependant on diet, age, environment etc.

When we naturally tan from ultraviolet sunlight, our epidermis absorbs this light and penetrates to the deepest layer, Stratum Basale or Basal layer.  The melatonin (pigment) held within this epidermis Basal layer produce melanocytes, which in turn create darker pigments. Whereas, when we apply fake tan on the skin, the tan only adheres to the Corneum Horny layer, giving temporary results.  This method of fake tanning has been endorsed worldwide as a safe and effective temporary tanning result.

Breast Feeding with Tanning Lotions:

When it comes to breast feeding as the tanning lotion is applied and developing to your skin, AVOID any skin-to-skin contact.  The reason to avoid skin-to-skin contact during the development time period is because your baby also has amino acids in their skin and the fake tanning lotion (whether you choose self-tanning foams or spray tanning lotions) and your baby will have a tan his/her face and hands.

However, after you have thoroughly removed the fake tanning product from your own skin, after the recommended development time, your skin will ultimately have what’s known as the ‘Maillard Effect’, causing a slight or sometimes pungent odour.  Contrary to popular belief, this odour that you’re omitting does not come from the tanning products. The odour is a direct bi-product of the combination between DHA sugars developing with your own amino acids.

Thanks to my beautiful husband, I have been blessed to have given birth to 6 delightfully wonderful human beings (3 girls, 3 boys).  I fully remember the enduring, unformattable, sleepless, sickly, gestational period and the desire just to be ‘me’ again.  However, I would politely suggest to be a little more patient with time and stay clear of any tanning products, near your baby’s face & skin.  There is no evidence to suggest that DHA is harmful while breastfeeding more so, I’m suggesting that the baby’s mouth is in direct contact with the sprayed/applied nipple and the areola…and to be just to be on the safe side.

There are purchasable items such as ‘nipple pads’ that cover the nipple and the areola, prior to the application of self-tanning foams and spray tanning lotions.


DHA and other added ingredients within tanning solutions may cause certain irritation to some individuals. We highly recommended a preliminary patch test by applying a small amount of product to your skin. Wait 24 hours to assess if the product is compatible for the individual.





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