DHA-Spray and Sunless "Tanning" Booths
Medical Author: Barbara K. Hecht,
Medical Editor: Frederick Hecht, M.D.
Tans continue to be popular, especially with people who
naturally have light colored skin. A rich, bronze-colored tan can not only be cosmetically
flattering, it can evoke a sun-filled vacation spent at the beach or, in winter,
on the ski slopes. But given the fact that exposure to the tanning rays of the
sun is accompanied by skin damage and an increased risk of skin cancer, these
days many people are opting for "sunless" tans.
What is DHA?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the most effective sunless
tanning products contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA) as the active ingredient. DHA is
a colorless chemical (it is derived from glycerin) that interacts with the amino
acids in dead skin cells to produce a brown color change. Since these dead skin
cells are constantly being shed, the color change produced by DHA usually lasts
about five to seven days.
DHA is not absorbed through the skin into the body and it
has no known toxicity. DHA was first discovered by the Germans in the late
1920's when DHA spilled on the skin produced a brown color. DHA has been listed
with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 1973, and has been used in cosmetic
preparations for almost 30 years.
What is a DHA-spray "tanning" booth?
In commercial spray "tanning" booths, consumers receive an
application of DHA in the form of a mist or spray. Is it safe to be sprayed with
a product containing DHA? There is no evidence to suggest that DHA is not safe.
The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C) authorizes the regulation of color
additives, including their uses and restrictions. DHA is listed in these
regulations as a color additive for use in imparting color to the human body.