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Is It Save to Use Self-Tanner During Pregnancy?

Is Self-Tanner Safe to Use While Pregnant? The Answer Is a Little Complicated

unrecognizable pregnant woman sitting on the Caribbean beach shoreline at sunset

If you're looking to get that sun-kissed, Summer glow but know getting too much sun exposure is not the way to go, you might have considered the ease of self-tanners. But is it safe to use the easy-fix bronzing lotions while pregnant? The answer is not 100 percent set in stone, but experts do have a clear recommendation for you.

Are Self-Tanners Safe For Pregnant Women?

There's no clear answer on whether self-tanners are OK to use during pregnancy. Why? Because the effect of the ingredients commonly found in self-tanners — like dihydroxyacetone or DHA, a sugar that interacts with amino acids on your skin to create pigment, not to be confused with docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 that has a "positive effect on the visual and cognitive development of a baby"— hasn't been extensively researched.

"I don't recommend self-tanners to pregnant women because there isn't any data analyzing how the ingredients affect pregnancy," said Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, MD, a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine. "There isn't any data showing that its use is bad per se either, but the fact that we don't have any data one way or the other means I can't comfortably recommend its usage to a pregnant woman." Play it safe is the rule here.

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What Does the American Pregnancy Association Say About Self-Tanners?

The American Pregnancy Association agrees with Minkin to a certain extent, saying its concern lies in "whether the active ingredient, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), is able to penetrate the skin," but adding that "studies do not confirm that it can" and that "DHA has been used in cosmetics since 1960, and no problems have been reported." The association also says "some healthcare providers encourage women to wait until after the first trimester."

So, while self-tanners can be a quick fix to give your skin a little pep, the jury is still out on whether they're entirely safe for pregnant women to use. As always, ask your doctor before trying any products during pregnancy.

Image Source: Getty / cdwheatley
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