The FDA Warns Consumers About Dangers of Spray Tan Booths

Paris Hilton Lindsay Lohan Spray Tan Split - H 2012
Getty Images

Paris Hilton Lindsay Lohan Spray Tan Split - H 2012

The government agency advises consumers to ask salon staff for measures to prevent breathing in the DHA mist, which recent studies show to be harmful.

Once upon a time, getting a tan was declasse, something that indicated you worked outside doing manual labor. Then French designer Coco Chanel made tanning chic in the late '50s and sun-kissed skin was perceived as a sign of affluence, being able to afford leisure time outside.

Then came the discovery that sunlight causes skin cancer. Early sunscreens like PABA were developed, the phrase SPF came into use and people were advised to limit their exposure to burning rays and to get regular body checks by dermatologists. 

In 1977, the FDA approved a chemical called dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which was used in tanning lotions applied to the body. But the agency now says it had no idea that people would be standing in a box filled with a thick mist of DHA, breathing it in (more on that later).  

PHOTOS: MTV Movie Awards Red Carpet: Best and Worst

Spray tanning booths, which emerged a little over a decade ago, were initially perceived as "safe tans", far less dangerous than actual tanning booths which still exposed customers to damaging ultra violet light.

The spray tan craze was spurred by tan-addict celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Victoria Beckham, Christina Aguilera, Gywneth Paltrow, and Jessica Simpson, whose faux-bronzed bodies and faces positively glowed on the red carpets. 

Then came Dancing with the Stars, which has spray tan booths practically on autopilot for the performers to maintain their on-stage golden hue. It was like fake bronzed Vegas showgirls were dancing right in your living room. 

Spray tan ODs increasingly left stars looking hilariously orange and the 2000s may well go down in Hollywood history as the Decade of the Oompa-Loompa.
Now the FDA has changed its mind. According to ABC News, recent studies show that  the active chemical DHA, has the potential to cause genetic alterations and DNA damage. So the latest report on the agency's website advises "DHA should not be inhaled or ingested" and warns consumers:  "The use of DHA in 'tanning' booths as an all-over spray has not been approved by the FDA, since safety data to support this use has not been submitted to the agency for review and evaluation."
PHOTOS: Top Ten: Critics’ Choice Television Awards
The agency advises consumers who spray tan they are "not protected from the unapproved use of this color additive" if they are inhaling the mist or allowing it to get inside their body. The agency recommends "Consumers should request measures to protect their eyes and mucous membranes and prevent inhalation."

Find questions the FDA  reccomends asking your tanning salon below:

Are consumers protected from exposure in the entire area of the eyes, in addition to the eyes themselves?

Are consumers protected from exposure on the lips and all parts of the body covered by mucous membrane?

Are consumers protected from internal exposure caused by inhaling or ingesting the product?

Tell us: Have you spray tanned recently? Were you informed of the dangers and advised about protective measures such as nose plugs, face masks and/or goggles?