SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center
(314) 577-5600

Is It OK to Use Self-Tanner During Pregnancy?

I’m 6 months pregnant and getting ready to go on a tropical vacation. I’m really pale and don’t want to feel self-conscious about my ever-expanding belly and my pasty skin! Is it OK to use sunless tanner during pregnancy?
- Lisa

Although there's no proof that self-tanners are harmful, there haven't been many studies done on their effects on a fetus. But slapping on some self-tanner is far better than lying out in the sun and becoming potentially overheated. (Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can lead to skin cancer, and overheating can increase the risk for birth defects, such as neural tube defects, in the first trimester and dehydration later in the pregnancy.)

When you're in the sun during your vacation, make sure to wear sunscreen, drink plenty of fluids, and don't let yourself get too hot.

You should talk to your doctor before applying any "tan in a bottle." And instead of using self-tanner, you could try applying some bronzer to your face, neck, shoulders, and chest.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: October 2012