Can fake tan be harmful?


Q: Is it safe to top up my fading summer tan with a fake tan product? I have seen some rather scary headlines recently.

A: The problem centres on the skin-colouring compound DHA (dihydroxyacetone). If this gets into the bloodstream, it could theoretically alter and damage DNA, which could in turn lead to the development of cancers and malignancies. ‘We simply don’t know the relative risk but it is a concern,’ says consultant dermatologist Dr Nick Lowe (

The danger is principally linked to spray tanning booths, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA;, which has not licensed them. If users are not properly protected, spray tan may get into the body via exposed mucous membrane – in the eyes, nose, lips and mouth – or inhalation. If you use a booth, ensure you are properly protected, including your entire eye area. Read More…