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Can Getting a Spray Tan Cause Cancer?

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Updated May 19, 2009

Question: Can Getting a Spray Tan Cause Cancer?
I want to get a tan without going out in the sun, and I know that spray tans are available at tanning salons. Is a spray tan safe? Will it cause cancer?
Answer: A spray tan allows you to get a sun-kissed look without ever stepping foot in the sun. They are available at tanning salons and are popular among celebrities. You're not alone in wondering if getting a spray tan is safe. Many people ask this question, particularly because the service is widely done at tanning salons.

A spray tan is safe and will not cause skin cancer. It is the exposure to UV rays that puts someone at risk for skin cancer. You are not exposing yourself to UV rays with a spray tan.

The active ingredient in spray tans is DHA, a glycerin derivitive that binds with dead skin cells. The reaction between DHA and dead skin cells cause cells to darken, giving the illusion of a tan.

The skin continuously sheds dead skin cells, so spray tans only last a week or two. It may be a hassle to have to go into the salon every few weeks to get another spray tan, but it is better than putting yourself at risk of skin cancer. Alternatively, you can try at-home self-tanner creams and gels.

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