Going for a spray tan while breastfeeding might be an idea that sounds dangerous and daunting. It is, however, possible and safe, if you take a few precautions.
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that tanning lotion and breastfeeding are a dangerous combination, but you should consider whether your baby could ingest the chemicals, or whether the color could transfer onto your baby’s face.
There are some easy steps you can take to avoid this – covering your nipples whilst having your spray tan, waiting until you have showered off the cosmetic layer of color before feeding, and using organic, paraben-free self-tanner.
Let’s have a more detailed look at things to be careful of when using self-tanner and breastfeeding, and what you can do to make it safer, in more detail.
Can You Self-Tan While Breastfeeding?
If you want to get a spray tan and you have a newborn baby, you might be asking yourself, ‘can you use sunless tanner while breastfeeding?’ There is currently no research to suggest that it is unsafe to use self-tan whilst you are breastfeeding. There are, however, some things to take into consideration.
Firstly, spray tan and the main active ingredient, DHA, have been approved for external use and safety, rather than internal. If you breastfeed immediately after a spray tan, the baby will likely ingest some of the product.
The lack of testing for internal safety of the chemicals does not mean that ingesting them is definitely unsafe, but there is not ‘set in stone’ evidence that it is safe. Bearing in mind that babies’ immune systems are yet to develop, their reaction to ingesting the chemicals could be a lot stronger.
Another thing to consider is the chance of the color rubbing off onto your baby’s face. When you have a spray tan, there is usually a cosmetic layer of color that washes off with your first shower. Breastfeeding before this color has been washed away could mean the color transfers to your baby.
This has happened in the past and made the news when a mum shared a photo of her baby with some rather hilarious ‘tan lines’ on their face. Whilst this is not dangerous, it is not exactly desirable.
Tips for Spray Tan While Breastfeeding
Use Nipple Covers
Tanning pasties to cover your nipples during a spray tan are widely available to buy and often provided as an option in tanning salons. People choose to wear them even when not breastfeeding if they don’t want their nipples to tan. People also use them in tanning beds for the same reason.
They can be a great option if you are breastfeeding because it will block the spray tan from that area of skin. This will remove any worries about your baby ingesting the chemicals, as well as avoid the ‘baby tan’ face.
Another option to block the color from your nipples is using a petroleum jelly or even nappy cream. Both products form a blockade that the spray tan cannot penetrate.
If you want to avoid the breast area altogether, you could opt for a strapless bikini top whilst you have your spray tan, to block the color from the nipple and the surrounding area.
Avoid Feeding Before a Shower
Spray tan is mostly made up of two-color elements – dihydroxyacetone (DHA), and a cosmetic layer of color. DHA reacts with amino acids in your skin to create the long-lasting tan color. The cosmetic layer is just there so you see immediate color and should be washed off in the shower a few hours after applying the fake tan.
If you breastfeed your baby before washing off the cosmetic layer of color, it is likely that some of that color will rub off and transfer onto your baby’s face. It is therefore recommended that you wait until you’ve had a shower before you feed your baby.
If your baby needs more regular feeds and can’t wait for you to have a shower, you could prepare by pumping some milk prior to your spray tan and keeping it in a bottle to use for feeding. It is difficult to predict your baby’s reaction to this if they are not used to bottle-feeding, so you could do a trial run with a bottle a few days before.
Use Organic, Paraben-free Products
Because ultimately (even though spray tan is an external product) the chemicals will enter your bloodstream and therefore could contaminate your breastmilk, it is a good idea to choose an organic, paraben-free spray tan.
These products are becoming more popular anyway because of general health-related and environmental concerns, so you should be able to find a salon offering organic and paraben-free spray tans.
It is always a good idea to keep chemicals away from babies as much as possible, because they are so sensitive internally and externally. They might not have developed the necessary immunity to fight off unwanted chemicals. A paraben-free spray tan will put your mind at ease in this respect.