It’s hard to resist the allure of a sun-kissed glow. We love to be bronzed, and sunless tanning is way safer than soaking up the UV rays. But can you use self tanner while pregnant? If so, what self tanners are safe during pregnancy?
Stay tuned as we answer these questions and more in this article. We’ll also suggest the best self-tanning products during pregnancy. Let’s start with whether you do sunless tanning while pregnant.
Is it safe to use self tanner while pregnant?
You’re smart to avoid suntanning while pregnant. It’s been proven that UV radiation breaks down folic acid in the blood, and that’s one of the key nutrients for a developing baby (1).
Not to mention the fact that suntanning can aggravate chloasma, the mask of hyperpigmentation on the face that’s common to pregnant women (2).
Instead, self tanning with mousse, lotion, and wipes is much safer. You’ll get the golden tan without putting your baby or yourself at risk.
There are a few downsides, however. Your skin during pregnancy may be more sensitive to certain ingredients like artificial fragrances or preservatives. Even natural products with essential oils may cause problems. Also, a strong scent or odor may be more difficult to handle when you’re nauseated. Many self tanners contain fragrances or masking fragrances to minimize the self-tanning odor.
Instead, look for self tanners with few ingredients and no “parfum” if possible. Check out the one below.
Finally, spray tanning is out because you could breathe in the fumes or get it in your mouth or nose. The active ingredient in (most) sunless tanning products is DHA, also known as dihydroxyacetone. It’s only safe for external application.
In summary, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor about whether you should wait until the first trimester has passed before self tanning.
Beauty by Earth Self Tanner
This is about as pregnancy-safe as a self-tanning lotion gets. We like it because it’s a gradual tanning product that’s ideal for pale skin. It provides a natural-looking golden glow that deepens each time you use it. After all, DHA is the fourth ingredient, so it’s pretty potent.
Since it’s a water-based lotion loaded with skin-friendly organics like aloe juice, coconut oil, and tea leaf extract, it’s an excellent moisturizer. That’s good news as DHA can be a little drying. Even the scent is pleasant – it’s vanilla fruit extract, not some chemical.
Unlike mousses and wipes, this lotion makes for even coverage without turning orange or leaving streaks and blotches. It’s unlikely to turn kneecaps and elbows extra dark.
What’s more, it’s a vegan formula manufactured in a stateside FDA-certified laboratory and packaged in the USA, too.
Reviewers with sensitive skin are thrilled with the results they get from this self tanner. They recommend exfoliating before using it, then staying dry for a few hours after applying it in order to allow the color to develop. We suggest applying it before bedtime to wake up like a bronzed goddess.
- Gentle and effective formula with no artificial fragrances or parabens
- Manufactured in an FDA-certified lab
- Moisturizing lotion rich in organic oils and extracts
- Gradually tans the skin without turning orange, blotching, or streaking
Is it safe to spray tan while pregnant?
DHA, the active ingredient for self tanning, is approved by the FDA for use on the skin. It interacts with protein on the skin surface to darken the color. It’s kind of like how an apple turns brown once you slice it. The effect wears off as the skin exfoliates, so your fake tan that fades about the same as a real tan would (3).
Sunless tanning is generally safe for pregnant women because DHA doesn’t penetrate the skin to circulate in the bloodstream. However, with spray tanning, that can change as particles may enter the nose or mouth.
For the safety of your baby, we can’t recommend spray tanning during pregnancy. Fortunately, there are many excellent self tanning products that don’t need to be sprayed on. For example, here’s another gradual tanning lotion that provides gorgeous results.
VITA LIBERATA Advanced Organics Fabulous Self-Tanning Gradual Lotion
It’s hard to avoid the self tanning odor as it’s caused by the DHA interacting with the skin. Most manufacturers add a fragrance to their product and hope for the best. But this brand uses Odor Remove Technology. That doesn’t mean that it’s completely unscented, but we didn’t see anyone complaining that it smells bad.
So, besides the fact that it’s fragrance-free, what else does this tanning lotion offer? For one, it’s rich and moisturizing, leaving the skin smooth, plump, and comfortable. The hydrating effects are said to last up to seventy-two hours.
The color changes gradually. Put it on one day and the next you’ll be a little darker. Apply it again, and you’ll go darker still. Of course, there is a limit to how deep your tan can look, but you’ll still get that vacation glow.
Furthermore, the tan fades naturally after four days to a week. We found that applying the lotion every couple of days maintains our sun-kissed appearance perfectly. It’s even mild enough to use on the face.
By the way, there’s no guide color. That means you can’t see where you’ve already applied it which isn’t a problem for gradual tanning lotion like it would be for mousse. The upside is that you won’t rub off any brown color on clothing or sheets.
Let’s see, is there anything else you should know? Well, it’s a bit pricey for a lotion, but it’s ECOCERT-certified 70% organic and free of perfumes, alcohol, and allergens. It’s cruelty-free, too.
- No artificial fragrances or masking fragrances but no strong odor because of Odour Remove Technology
- Certified 70% organic, allergen-free, cruelty-free, mild enough for the face
- Hydrates the skin for seventy-two hours
- Repeated applications darken the skin gradually over the course of a few days
- Fades naturally after 4 to 7 days
- No color transfer to clothing or sheets
- Gorgeous vacation glow
- Not cheap, but worth every penny
What are the risks associated with sunless tanning?
You may notice that we didn’t include popular brands like Jergens or Coco & Eve. Several people asked if these self tanners are safe during pregnancy. We took issue with some of the ingredients that would ordinarily not be a problem outside of pregnancy.
You see, there are a few risks with sunless tanning. Sometimes people develop rashes, but those could result from all sorts of ingredients like preservatives or fragrances that aren’t only in tanning products.
Bondi Sands PURE Self-Tanning Foaming Water
If you already have a favorite lotion or body butter and don’t want to switch to a gradual tanning lotion, no problem. Try tanning water instead. It’s colorless and dries rapidly so that you can get dressed and get on with your day. On the other hand, you can put it on after your shower and sleep without staining the sheets.
Like a sunless tanning mousse, it’s best to use a glove or mitt to apply the product. Otherwise, it may stain the nails and palms of your hands. Also, be careful about only applying a light layer to dry spots like heels, knees, and elbows so that they don’t darken too much.
Users say it provides a light bronze that deepens with subsequent applications. Moreover, the DHA-based formula is enriched with moisturizers and nutrients like hyaluronic acid and vitamin C. It contains no artificial fragrances or parabens.
Even the packaging is thoughtful – it’s 100% recyclable plastic.
- Ultra-lightweight and quick-absorbing with no artificial fragrance or color
- Repeated applications (from one day to the next) build a deeper bronze
- Infused with hyaluronic acid and vitamin C
- It’s best to wear a glove or a mitt to apply it
How do you apply self tanner when pregnant?
When you’re pregnant, do a patch test to see how your skin reacts to the self tanner. Apply a small amount somewhere out of sight and give it twenty-four hours to see what happens. During that period, try to keep the skin dry for eight hours or however long the instructions say to wait. That’s because sweating or showering will cause the DHA to blotch or streak and you won’t see the true results.
Furthermore, it’s rare that self tanners turn the skin orange these days. If that happens, chances are you’ve washed with an alkaline soap. Bar soap is notoriously alkaline. Instead, use a pH-balanced body wash or invest in a pH-neutralizing spray like professional tanning salons use.
For the best results, always exfoliate before tanning. This does two things: it reduces dry patches so that the tanning solution absorbs evenly, and it helps a tan last longer.
If you shave or remove hair, do it at least four hours before self tanning so that the product doesn’t sink into the pores. (This isn’t as risky if you’re using gradual tanning lotion instead of mousse or wipes. Also, with lotion, there’s no need for latex gloves or an applicator mitt as long as you wash your hands right afterward).
Apply the sunless tanning product to dry skin before moisturizing. Work in sections, smoothing the product with the glove or mitt with long sweeping motions. Save knees, ankles, and knuckles for the end when there’s not much liquid left.
Lastly, wait a few minutes for the product to absorb before getting dressed. If you have dry skin and want to apply moisturizer, try to go without it or wait as long as possible before applying it. Sweating, swimming, showering, or applying lotion may cause the tanning product to blotch or streak. Seriously, I crossed my legs on a sweaty summer day and ended up with pale patches where the skin touched.
St. Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Face Mist
If all this talk of applicator mitts and latex gloves makes you worry that you’re going to make a mess of your fake tan, here’s the solution. It’s a mist – spritz it on, let it dry, and stop fretting about streaking, rinsing, and rubbing off color.
What’s more, it’s non-comedogenic and infused with antioxidants for healthy skin. There’s no strong self tanning odor and no worries whether you put it on top of or underneath makeup. Spray it right on top of the moisturizer, there’s no problem.
If it sounds too good to be true, we are happy to report that it passed an independent clinical trial with flying colors.
The sun-kissed glow slowly develops over the course of 4 to 8 hours. Apply again, and the color deepens.
The formula is vegan, although it does contain an artificial fragrance. Users say the scent is light and refreshing and does not linger after the mist dries. The best part about using this facial mist is that once your skin is glowing with health, you might not even care about makeup anymore.
- Non-comedogenic facial tanning mist
- Can be applied on top of moisturizer and over or under makeup
- Color develops as soon as four hours and is buildable with repeated applications
- Vegan and infused with moisturizers and antioxidants
- No need for applicator mitts or rinsing
- Has an artificial fragrance with a light scent that fades quickly
We’re happy you joined us today to learn about self tanning while pregnant. It’s a good idea to speak to your OB/GYN or your family doctor if you have any concerns. This is a sensitive time for you and the baby, and it’s never a bad idea to be a little extra careful.
In the meantime, we hope our reviews helped you find what you need. In the article above, we’ve recommended the best sunless tanning products during pregnancy. If you’re pleased with your purchase, we’d love to hear about your experience using it. Feel free to leave us a comment below.
1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22747844/#:~:text=In%20vitro%20studies%20have%20shown, links%20to%20solar%20UV%20exposure Folate degradation due to ultraviolet radiation: possible implications for human health and nutrition, by David C Borradale , Michael G Kimlin, published July 2012 in Nutrition Reviews, accessed July 30, 2021
2. https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/is-it-safe/tanning-during-pregnancy/ accessed July 29, 2021
3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sunless-tanning/art-20046803 accessed July 29, 2021
4. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-products/sunless-tanners-bronzers content current as of August 24, 2020, accessed July 29, 2021