During my pregnancy, it seemed like I was Googling questions about what was safe and not safe at every moment of the day. Whether it was what I shouldn’t eat—I wanted an Italian cold cut sub more than anything—or what I shouldn’t apply on my skin, my inquiries were endless. One that popped up and had me immediately texting my derm friend was regarding self-tanner. Is it safe to use self-tanner when you have a bun in the oven? Here’s what the dermatologists have to say.
“It is generally safe to use self-tanning creams and lotions during pregnancy, but it’s probably best to avoid spray tans because the effects of inhaling the spray, and its active ingredient DHA (dihydroxyacetone) are not known,” says New York dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD. “DHA is a nontoxic substance that reacts with the outermost layer of the skin, and it isn’t absorbed into the body and can’t harm the baby. However, it is probably best to avoid using fake-tanning products during pregnancy because some people may develop allergic reactions to the dye, which is due to hormonal changes that happen to the skin during pregnancy. I recommend consulting with your dermatologist or OBGYN before using any product while pregnant to make sure it is safe.”
New York dermatologist Orit Markowitz, MD adds that “most over-the-counter skin-care products are safe in pregnancy, but it is important to look at the specific ingredients and reach out to your OBGYN to confirm the safety, as some self-tanners, especially the spray kind with DHA, could contain ingredients that aren’t as safe. The FDA cautions against getting DHA in your mouth or nose because there is no solid body of research to know if there are any risks. So, it’s probably a good idea to avoid it because if you have ever had a spray tan, it is virtually impossible to hold your breath long enough.”
If you’re craving your go-to faux tan, it’s not a spray and your OBGYN gives you the green light, there are formulas made without dyes that could be a better option to help avoid any potential allergic reactions. A couple we like are Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pad for Body Intense Glow ($45) and Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Glow Drops ($32), which you can add to your face moisturizer or body lotion for a sun-kissed effect.