Can I Get a Spray Tan While Pregnant?

tanned body of young woman in summer with sunscreen lotion in shape of sun

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For some people, a spray tan might be part of their regular beauty routine, while others might view it as a treat for special occasions (think: before weddings or vacations). No matter if you've gotten one in the past, it's natural to have some questions about whether or not spray tans are safe when you're expecting.

You probably can get a spray tan while pregnant (in most cases) if you follow a few safety precautions. "Spray tanning is fine for most pregnant women, but I always instruct my clients to speak to their doctors," says Brittney Bennett, the owner of Be Bronze Studio in Los Angeles.

We turned to the experts to learn more about whether or not spray tanning is safe during pregnancy, and what guidelines people should employ before getting their glow on.

Spray Tanning While Pregnant

Spray tans typically contain a chemical called dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA is a
sugar-based compound that reacts with amino acids within the outermost layer of our skin (called the stratum corneum) to cause that brownish-gold discoloration associated with a tan.

"Although DHA binds with amino acids within the skin, studies have shown that it is not significantly absorbed into the bloodstream, so skin application isn't likely to cause significant harm to a pregnant woman or her fetus," says Kelly Johnson-Arbor, a medical toxicologist at National Capital Poison Center.

Every pregnancy is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about getting a spray tan while pregnant.

Is It Safe for Baby?

DHA won't absorb through your skin and get to your baby, but it is important to avoid inhaling any of the spray. "There is minimal information about the safety of spray tans when used on the mouth, eyes, or through inhalation," notes Johnson-Arbor. "This means that women and their unborn babies may experience harm if they inhale spray tanning products like DHA, or if the products are accidentally swallowed." It may be hard to avoid inhaling the product when you're at the salon, so it's important to keep that in mind before you head in for a bronze.

If you plan to give birth soon, it's advised to avoid spraying areas that your baby could come into contact with, like your nipples.

Benefits of Getting a Spray Tan While Pregnant

There are no specific health benefits of getting a spray tan while pregnant, but that glow could boost confidence, especially if you feel uncomfortable about some of the ways that pregnancy has changed your appearance. "During this time when [some] things are so out of a person's control, a little color can be a great pick-me-up for a date night or maternity shoot," says Bennett.

If you're set on getting a tan while pregnant, a spray tan done with safety precautions can be safer than soaking up the sun outdoors or lying in a tanning bed. Sustained sun exposure is never safe for your skin, and doing so during pregnancy can also cause dark patches called chloasma. Tanning in a bed can also lead to overheating, which increases your baby's risk of developing spina bifida, a serious birth defect of the spine.

Safety Precautions

Should you decide to get a spray tan while you are pregnant, there are a few safety precautions to keep in mind.

Avoid Inhaling the Product

Make sure that you do not breathe any of the actual spray during the application process. "Because there isn't a sufficient amount of research to determine whether there are dangers related to breathing in any of the sprayed tanning solutions, it is advisable to avoid getting it in your mouth or nose," says Aaron Gelfand, MD an OB/GYN who works with expecting parents recovering from substance abuse at ChoicePoint.

You can do this by making sure your mouth stays closed and by holding your breath where possible. In many establishments, you may also ask for a nasal filter to prevent inhaling the tanning solution. "I make sure each client who is pregnant gets a nose plug to place inside of their nose when spraying," says Bennett.

Consider Avoiding Spray Tans During the First Trimester

Your risk for miscarriage is highest during the first trimester, so it's always a good idea to take minimal risks during these weeks. "Since it might be impossible to ensure that you don't inhale any spray at all, avoid spray tans during this vulnerable time," notes Dr. Gelfand.

Don't Spray Parts of Your Body That Your Baby Will Touch Soon

If you might give birth soon after getting a spray tan, you want to make sure that your newborn won't come into contact with the product. Remember that it's recommended to place your baby on your chest right after delivery and that your baby's mouth will be in contact with your skin, especially if you are breastfeeding. "We cover the nipples with pasties to keep this area protected [for pregnant people] or not spray the chest all," says Bennett.

Limit Your Tanning Frequency

A couple of tans for special events during your pregnancy would likely be fine, but try not to tan regularly. No matter how hard you try not to inhale any of the spray, tiny particles have a chance of entering your mouth or nose. For this reason, limiting how often you tan should help make sure that your baby is not exposed to DHA.

A Word From Verywell

Getting a spray tan during pregnancy can be fairly safe. The ingredients in a spray tan won't absorb through your skin and reach your fetus. That being said, it's important not to inhale the product or get any in your mouth. We don't know how much of the product is absorbed through mucus membranes, or what effect that might have on the baby. This risk is often enough for providers to recommend avoiding a spray tan during pregnancy.

If you might have your baby soon after getting your tan, avoid spraying areas of your body where your baby is likely to come into contact. For further questions or concerns, be sure to reach out to your OB/GYN or healthcare provider.

4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Health Services. Is It Safe to Use Fake Tan During Pregnancy?

  2. Ciriminna R, Fidalgo A, Ilharco LM, Pagliaro M. Dihydroxyacetone: an updated insight into an important bioproduct. ChemistryOpen. 2018;7(3):233-236. doi: 10.1002/open.201700201.

  3. Bolanca I, Bolanca Z, Kuna K, et al. Chloasma--the mask of pregnancy. Coll Antropol. 2008;32 Suppl 2:139-141. PMID: 19140277

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What Is Spina Bifida?

By Elisa Cinelli
Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based content to help parents make the best decisions for their families. She has written for well-known sites including POPSUGAR and Scary Mommy, among others.