Is it Safe to Spray Tan when You're Pregnant?

by Grace Clarke


CN Digital StudioCN Digital Studio The alternate title for this blog could have been "Kim Kardashian Goes to the Spa; the Twitterverse Freaks Out." Last week alone, the pregnant half of KimYe tweeted pictures of herself mid-vampire facial (so. much. blood.), covered in needles during acupuncture, and getting a spray tan with Kardashian Glow sunless tanner mist. "Sprayed tonight after watching KKTM! My legs are soooo dark!" she captioned the last picture. She received more than 2,000 comments, many of them questioning whether it's safe for a pregnant woman to coat herself in chemicals for the sake of a sunny glow. I asked Ashley Roman, an ob-gyn at NYU's Langone Medical Center who specializes in high-risk and special-needs pregnancies, about the risks of sun-free tanning when you're expecting.

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It seems like everything is forbidden when you're pregnant--are sunless tanning lotions harmful, too? "There haven't been any studies that evaluate the safety of using sunless tanning products during pregnancy. But we know that anything applied to the skin, including lotion or spray-tan liquid, can be absorbed into the body. And all sunless tanners include dihydroxyacetone, or DHA. That's what's giving you a nice glow, and it's safe for use on your skin, but the effects on unborn babies haven't been studied."

Is spray tanning less likely to be dangerous, since it's a mist? "It could pose even more danger--you could actually inhale the ingredients, in addition to your skin absorbing them. And spray-tanning products have DHA, too. My general advice is to avoid it."

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Dare we ask about tanning beds? "There's no conclusive evidence that the rays from a tanning bed are harmful to a developing fetus, but there's plenty of proof that they're dangerous to you. Ultraviolet rays A and B cause skin cancer and put you at risk for developing melanoma. And that's the only type of cancer that spreads to your placenta, which regulates nutrient uptake for a developing fetus."

Yikes. Any other topicals you'd nix? "Vitamin A derivatives, certainly, like Accutane and Retin-a. High intake of vitamin A has been shown to cause fetal malformations, and it also makes skin supersensitive, especially to light. Sunscreens are safe, so I recommend pregnant women at the beach wear a big hat, a long-sleeved shirt, and stay hydrated."

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