How to Keep that Sun-Kissed Glow All Year Round

tanning bed dangers

Right now is about the time you may be glancing in the mirror and thinking to yourself, “Gee I’m starting to look like Casper the Friendly Ghost. Note to self- go to the tanning salon or get a spray tan or do something this weekend!” 

I’m a big advocate of getting  moderate amounts of natural sunlight on your skin every day, if possible. The sun stimulates vitamin D production in your body and other health benefits. But as the days grow shorter and sunlight becomes scarcer, many people turn to artificial means to get a little color- not for “health” benefits, but to get a tanned look. The three most popular options are tanning beds, spray tans, and self-tanning lotion. But is getting an artificial sun-kissed glow healthy? Hmm. Nothin’ wrong with wanting to look good, but some options sound a bit shady. Let’s take a look:

Tanning Beds

tanning bed dangersA recent meta-analysis conducted by scientists at University of California San Francisco found that the use of indoor tanning beds is responsible for about 170,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer in the United States every single year. Likewise, in 2009 the World Health Organization’s Internal Agency for Research on Cancer classified indoor ultraviolet tanning devices as a Group 1 carcinogen (carcinogenic to humans). This ruling was based on 20 studies that showed risk of cutaneous melanoma increases by 75 percent when one starts indoor tanning before the age of 30.

While this increased risk of skin cancer is reason enough to avoid any type of UV sunlamps, there are other reasons, as well. The September 2009 issue of Harvard Women’s Health  also warned that tanning beds significantly increased photoaging and other types of skin damage. Photoaging contributes to poorer skin quality, loss of elasticity, wrinkles, and dark spots, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. This occurs when UVA rays penetrate your epidermis, causing increased elastin production, which degrades your body’s ability to generate collagen. This results in poor skin quality because the skin is no longer able to repair damage without sufficient collagen.

Many tanning salons advertise “safe” tanning beds that use only UVA rays. These tanning beds are no safer than those with UVB rays, according to some experts.  While the UVB rays do cause more cases of skin cancer, UVA rays increase the damaging effects of UVB, and are therefore no more “safe” for tanning. Likewise, The Stanford Medicine Cancer Institute cautions that exposure UVA rays also increase the risk of developing cataracts.

So, in other words, it’s best to skip the tanning beds.

dangerous spray tanningSpray Tanning

Spray tanning is extremely popular, especially in the winter months. An ABC News investigative report looked into the health risks associated with spray tanning in June of 2012 and raised concerns about one of the key chemicals used in spray tanning formulations: dihydroxyacetone (DHA). According to the ABC report, which was generated by a panel of experts, DHA has the potential to cause genetic alterations.

DHA works by interacting with amino acids to produce melanoidin pigments in your skin. The result is a tan. While the FDA has approved DHA for topical application, it restricts it to external use only. When you receive a spray tan, you inhale some of this harmful chemical. Further research is required, but the FDA does not approve the use of DHA in spray tans or for use in areas near mucous membranes including the nose, mouth, and eyes. The organization states this specifically in the aforementioned report, and they list reported adverse effects of spray tanning that include rashes, dizziness, coughing, and fainting.

The bottom line: There’s still a lot of research that needs to be done on spray tanning; however, I don’t recommend it because of the danger of inhaled chemicals, which may cause inflammation in the body. I’ve never gotten one personally, and to me, it’s just not worth it.

self tanning lotionSelf-Tanning Lotion

Like spray tanners, self-tanning lotions use DHA to stimulate the production of melanoidin pigments. While the FDA does approve DHA for this use, some studies show that skin, does indeed absorb DHA molecules, allowing it entry into the body. This increases based on the level of DHA in the product used. Sunless tanning creams may also cause contact dermatitis and similar reactions.

The bottom line: Self-tanning lotions are probably the safest of the above three options, although those self-tanners with concentrations of DHA above 10 percent pose higher risks. Still, many self-tanning lotions contain petroleum products and chemicals that contribute to your body’s toxicity, and DHA still poses risks. In light of how difficult it is to achieve an even, attractive tan from a self-tanning lotion (along with that self-tanner smell, which many people find extremely unpleasant), it’s not steller either.

Safe way to get tanA Better Alternative

First, I’ll say that untanned skin is not unattractive. If you are following the Beauty Detox lifestyle, your skin will start glowing and looking radiant, no matter what the shade, and that is beautiful.

Still, if you want a little color, I have a healthy alternative that I love! One of my favorite cosmetic companies, Vapour Beauty, makes a great bronzer that you can use to give yourself a little glow. Vapour’s Solar Translucent Bronzer is made with 70 percent organic and 30 percent natural ingredients, including antioxidants that actually make your skin healthier. It comes in three shades, and just a small amount creates a beautiful glow.

You don’t need to get a fake tan this winter.  For times you want to appear just a bit sun kissed, even in the winter, try Vapour’s Solar Translucent Bronzer, a natural and healthy way to get a little color.



Last updated: Friday, June 19, 2015
  • lilu

    What do you mean by natural ingredients(in the bronzer)? I believe in either organic or non-organic ingredients.

    • Lina

      I am hooked on Vapour cosmetics. The other natural ingredients are vitamins and minerals. My skin looks younger and healthier. It is so light! Thanks, Kimberly. I never would have found this product without you.

  • Monica

    Oh, how I wish I never set foot in a tanning bed. Well, we just didn’t know back then.

    I will check out this product .. :-)


  • Juliane Porter

    oooh! at first I was thinking I don’t mind my natural skin tone- especially now that i’m getting that awesome glow from the BDS:-) But your 70% organic Vapour recommendation will definitely go in my cabinet for Spring/Summer -and I can’t wait to check out their cosmetics- I’m slowly but surely transitioning everything over to organic- my kitchen is done- but not my bathroom.
    Thanks for another awesome piece!

  • Enid Weygandt

    Where does one get Vapour’s Solar Translucent Bronzer. I tried Sephora and and neither have it. Great idea though.

  • Christi

    Hi Kim! I really love that you did a blog on this. I love having a nice tan myself, but I also think more people should learn to love their natural skin tone. I often hear people commenting on how they are too pale and they need a tan, and I really think its just another form of body image issues. I am so glad you said that untanned skin is NOT unattractive! Thank you!

  • Fit Missy

    Great overview of the options available. Glad to see that you have an alternative healthier solution. :)

  • Chris

    Maybe fine for your face, but what about your body?

  • Kate

    There are so many people who are addicted to tanning beds without being aware of the risks. I am very happy that there are other safer alternatives such as natural self tanning lotions and spray tanning to get a tanned look. Using the right tanning products can produce a more natural and radiant skin tone throughout all the seasons.

  • Kirsten

    Hi Kimberly!

    Amazing program – I just bought your new system! I am so curious… and I know outer beauty comes from healthy inside, but will you please share with us what you use on your skin on the outside?? I would love to know your nightly skincare regimen…and I bet I’m not the only one! 😉


    • Nohemi

      Yes, I would also love to know your nightly/daily skin regimen.
      Thanks for all you do Kim.

  • Gerard Lantto

    Indoor tanning is an environment that can be controlled. Both tanning beds and the sun give off ultra violet light, but as in the case of tanning beds, the C light waves which is considered to be most damaging are filtered. In addition, tanning bulbs emit UVA and UVB in which excessive exposure can be risky, that is why precisely tanning beds are considered safer because exposure can be controlled. *

  • Tricia Ward

    This couldn’t be more true. I used to tan in tanning beds in the winter, and layed out in the sun all summer. Ever since I started drinking Green Smoothies and cutting out all other unhealthy snacks and food I have a natural tan to my skin. I really do. People ask me where have a gone on vacation all the time. I haven’t gone anywhere just drinking Green Smoothies.

  • Kim

    Does this faux tan last, like a sunless tanner? Or is it a wash-off?