What Happens To Your Body When You Use Tanning Lotion

A great tan can be the perfect summer accessory. As good as you may feel sporting a more bronzed version of yourself, experts at Harvard Health Publishing claim that a tan is really an indication of skin cell damage. As scary as skin damage may seem, most of us can't resist a sunny day at the beach. Luckily, there is a way to achieve a glowing tan without scorching your skin. According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, sunless tanning lotions can give your skin a tan appearance without having to be in the sun. Tanning lotion has been around for years, and with a little patience and research, you can avoid the dreaded streaks on your skin they have been known to cause.

So what exactly happens to our bodies when we slather ourselves in the stuff? Do the chemicals within these lotions pose a risk to our skin and overall health?

Tanning lotion is deemed safe

Dr. Adam Friedman, director of dermatologic research at Montefiore-Albert Einstein College of Medicine, explains to Time how the DHA in tanning lotion affects our skin. "These products contain an ingredient that stains the outermost layer or your skin," he says. Staining the skin may sound like it would have some negative repercussions to our health, but according to Friedman, there is nothing to be concerned about. The layer of our skin that gets stained is the "stratum corneum — the topmost layer composed of dead cells," Friedman says. "So I'm not concerned about it from a safety standpoint. When used topically, I think it's the only safe way to have a tan appearance," he concludes. 

Safety is key when it comes to tanning, which is why you'll want to follow the directions on the label carefully. According to an FDA statement reported via the Mayo Clinic, "DHA shouldn't be inhaled or applied to areas covered by mucous membranes." Therefore, you'll want to steer clear of the susceptible areas of your face such as the lips, nose, or eyes.

It appears that when used correctly, tanning lotion doesn't have any negative effects on your skin or overall health. It's important to note that tanning lotions won't protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Therefore, make sure you top off your newly tan legs with a little SPF before you head on down to the beach.