Fake tan options
Fake tanning refers to using a tanning substance to colour the skin. Fake tans can be achieved by using lotions, creams, tinted sunscreens, tablets, accelerators or spray tanning booths.
Lotions, sprays, creams and combined moisturiser and fake tan products contain a dye that stains the skin. This gives you a tanned appearance. The dye attaches to the dead upper layer of skin and the colour will fade and disappear, approximately one week after application, when the dead skin cells flake off.
Tanning tablets available in Australia contain low doses of a vitamin-A related chemical called beta-carotene. This chemical colours several orange fruits and vegetables and, when used by people, gives the skin an orange colour. The tablets do not provide any protection from UV radiation.
Spray tanning booths
Spray tanning involves stepping into a private booth and being sprayed with a fine mist. Measures should be taken to protect the eyes, lips and mucous membranes and prevent ingestion or inhalation of dihydroxyacetone (DHA)-containing products.
Will a fake tanning product protect me from the sun?Fake tans are a safer alternative to sunbathing and solarium use. However, a fake tan will not protect you against UV radiation. Some fake tanning products do contain sunscreen, but this will at most only offer protection for a few hours after application of the product.
If you use a fake tanning product you will still need to protect yourself from the sun using the 5 ways (wear a broad-brimmed hat, sun-protective clothing that covers as much of the body as possible, wrap-around sunglasses, SPF 30+ sunscreen and seek shade).
For more information see : Cancer Council Australia (August 2007) Position Statement: Fake Tans and UV Radiation.