Tanning – Spray or UV?


For a few years now, pop-culture has increasingly valued tanning, it is seen as a sign of good health and is part of Western beauty standards. Tanning’s growing popularity has propelled the development of artificial tanning techniques. In Canada, with its long months of winter and snow, the number of artificial tanning users is increasing every year. In 2002, the Federal Department of Health and Social Services added ultraviolet (UV) light to its list of substances that are carcinogenic to humans. Long-term exposure to artificial sunlight contributes significantly to premature skin aging and the risk of skin cancer.

Let’s face it, tanned skin is in. So the question is not necessarily “will they tan?”, but “how will they tan?” With modern advances in technology, there are several ways for customers to achieve the golden glow they desire while being cautious. A tanning spray is a mixture of chemicals that is sprayed and absorbed into your skin. The spray tan then turns into the brown shade you have chosen. A professional does a spray tan at home or in a tanning salon. The spray method is generally approved by dermatologists. Spray tanning is a liquid solution that generally combines aloe vera, with a self-tanner and dihydroxyacetone. DHA is a chemical that interacts with the skin to produce a brown colour over several hours. Treatments range from $30 for cabin spraying to $150 for a hand tan by a professional.


The FDA has been cracking down on artificial UV tanning because of safety concerns regarding the treatment. Tanning with artificial UV will increase your risk for developing certain types of skin cancers in the same way that sunbathing does. Additionally, if you end up going to a salon with untrained staff, you might find yourself leaving with a nasty sunburn. UV tanning can also speed up the aging process of your skin, harm your eyes, and can even weaken your immune system. Unlike artificial UV tanning, the use of a spray tan mist does not increase your risk of skin cancer. Applying a spray tan is easy, and it will often look more natural than a dazzling sunburn in the middle of winter! Spray tanning is presented as the safest alternative to artificial UV  tanning.


The good news is that there is currently no risk associated with spray tanning. The tanning spray includes the chemical DHA (dihydroxyacetone), which is an FDA approved to be safe for use on your skin. For those who choose to tan naturally in the sun on vacation, the risks of skin aging, sunburn, or weakening the immune system are the same if you do not protect yourself. Remember to use sunscreen that is environmentally friendly with an SPF of at least 30. Some medical professionals recommend not tanning between the hours of 12am and 16pm, since these are the hours when UV rays are strongest and most harmful to the body and skin. To keep your tan on for as long as possible, remember to apply a moisturizing cream after each session. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to consult your dermatologist. They will be able recommend safe and effective products for you to protect your skin while on vacation.


PS: Check out our healthy living articles HERE!