Risk to Self Tanner Lotions?

Last Modified: June 1, 2010


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

Are their any risks in using spray tans or self-tanner lotions?


Christopher Miller, MD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

Self tanners are safe to use. You should look for self tanners whose main ingredient is DHA, or dihydroxyacetone. This self-tanning ingredient works by staining the stratum corneum, which is a fine layer of scale on the surface of the skin. Every couple of week, this top layer of skin scales off. When it does "scale off," you'll also lose the stain from the DHA.

While it will require reapplication every couple of weeks, DHA is a much safter alternative to tanning than exposing your skin to ultraviolet light.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series: Sun Safety and Skin Cancer Prevention Webchat. View the entire transcript here.

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