“No truth” in fake tan pregnancy scare, says expert

Reports suggesting fake tan products are linked to infertility and could harm your unborn baby are unfounded, claims cosmetic industry

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Stories in today’s newspapers that fake tan products pose a risk to fertility and unborn babies have been slammed as untrue by an expert scientist from the cosmetic industry.

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Dr Chris Flower, director general of the Cosmetics, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA), told MFM, “It’s an exasperating, stupid story that’s taken on a life of its own. Are there any risks to yourself, your fertility, your offspring? No, absolutely not.”

Advice from the NHS states that the active ingredient in fake tanning products, DHA, is non-toxic.

The NHS Choices site explains that DHA is a “non-toxic substance that reacts with cells in the outermost layer of the skin. DHA doesn’t go beyond the outer layer of skin and therefore isn’t absorbed into the body.”

Although the NHS advises that fake tan products are “a popular and safer alternative to spending time in the sun to get a tan”, it also warns that because pregnancy makes your skin more sensitive, mums-to-be may be more likely to have an allergic reaction to them. For this reason it suggests always doing a skin test first and that you may not want to use fake tan during your pregnancy.

Today’s scare around fertility and unborn baby safety resulted from a statement made by Elizabeth Salter-Green of UK charity the Chem Trust, which has been widely reported in the press. She stated, “Many of the chemicals in fake tan are toxic to reproduction and can harm a foetus.”

The report in the Daily Telegraph also raised concerns about the risks of breathing in spray tans. “When [DHA] is sprayed on to the body, it is often inhaled and absorbed into the bloodstream,” it reported.

Dr Flower rebuts the worries. “When we say something is safe, it’s safe. Fake tan has been tested by the Scientific Committee for Consumer Safety (SCCS) for consumers using it in a booth or at home and for workers who are inhaling it regularly. As long as there’s adequate ventilation, it’s fine to use it time and time again.

“We ensure we take into account people using products more than the recommended amount, too.”

Dr Flower also counters Elizabeth Salter-Green’s claims that fake tan contains a number of toxic chemicals. “Each cosmetic product must be assessed for safety by a duly qualified professional before being placed on the market,” he explains, “and this takes account of all of the ingredients and their possible interactions. This is a legal requirement under strict European laws on the safety of cosmetic products. In fact, the assessment looks to ensure you would still be safe even if you used the product 100 times more frequently than normal.”

Do keep in mind general safety when using tanning products during pregnancy. As previously stated, always do a skin test first. It’s also not recommended to use fake tan on your breasts while you’re breastfeeding as, while there’s no known danger, you wouldn’t want your baby to swallow any of the product.

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