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Q&A: Are Self-Tanners Safe During Pregnancy?

Question: I like the look of tanned skin year-round, and I know the dangers of being in the sun. Are self-tanners safe during pregnancy?

Answer: It is good that you are thinking of staying out of the harmful UV rays of the sun. Not only can tanning increase your chance of developing skin cancer, it can also expose you to the possibility of overheating, something you really want to avoid during pregnancy.

Keep in mind, when it comes to pregnancy, hormonal changes can affect how your skin reacts to a lot of things—including beauty products.

Unfortunately, there have not been any long-term studies on the effects of skin tanners and how they might influence your developing baby. (Conducting studies on pregnant women, as you would expect, poses a big ethical dilemma!) When using self tanners, you are obviously covering a large surface area, thus increasing your chances of absorbing the lotion’s ingredients into your skin. How much gets into your bloodstream and then through the placenta to the baby is the big question.

The first trimester is the most critical as far as your baby’s development, so if you plan on using tanners, hold off until you are in your second trimester. Some doctors say it is “probably safe,” but others opt for avoiding it altogether. Talk to your own OB for his or her own take on the topic.

No matter what you decide to do, be sure to wear a high SPF sunscreen when outside, stay well hydrated, and don’t get overheated.

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