Fake tan is meant to be the safe alternative to sun baking or using solariums we've been warned countless times to "fake it, don't bake it", following the lead of tanorexic celebs like Kim Kardashian and Lindsay Lohan. But could chemicals in spray-tan formula also cause cancer?
Concerns have been raised after ABC News in the US asked a panel of six experts to review 10 studies about the effects of dihydroxyacetone (DHA), the key chemical in spray tan formula which creates that much desired all-over bronzed glow.
The main concern is that in the US, DHA is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) "for external use only" and "should not be inhaled or ingested". But as anyone who's stepped inside a spray-tanning booth knows, it's pretty much impossible not to breathe in any of the mist while the procedure is being performed.
Several of the studies concluded that if DHA enters the blood stream by being inhaled, it could cause DNA damage resulting in tumours or birth defects.
Dr Darrell Rigel, Professor of Dermatology at New York University, told ABC News that the safest way to enjoy a fake tan would be to use a product that is applied topically (directly on the skin). Dr Rigel also commented that if you've only had a spray tan once or twice, the risk is reduced.
"Just like anything else, the more you are exposed to a potential problem, the greater your risk," he said.
Craig Sinclair, spokesperson for Cancer Council Australia said given the study findings are very new, his organisation's position on DHA is still as per their website: that it is "considered safe for topical application on the skin, however there is currently no research available regarding safety of exposure to DHA to the area of the eye, the lips, mucous membranes, or internal organs via ingestion or inhalation".
However, Sinclair said the Cancer Council would ideally like to see people not wanting to alter their skin colour.
"Our view is always that we would like to see people happy with the skin they've got and not be seeking out changes to natural skin tone," he explained.
Sinclair also said he hopes the new findings don't encourage people to choose sun baking or solariums over fake-tan.
"There is a clear association between sun bed use and melanoma, seeing people go back to using them would be a worst-case scenario" he said.
According to the report by ABC News, since the study findings came to light many US salons are now encouraging customers to wear goggles and nose plugs when they get a spray-tan.