Tan from the drugstore: Are self-tanners dangerous – Lexicon for medicine and health

Drugstore tan: Are self-tanners dangerous?

Whether in the cold winter months, before an important event or as a preliminary stage for a natural summer tan on vacation – artificial tanning methods are regular beauty helpers. In addition to the fact that they give the skin a summery complexion, they make many users feel better.

This is mainly due to the fact that a healthy, slightly tanned skin color is associated with health and beauty. As an alternative to artificial solarium tanning or modern spray tanning, many consumers now choose self-tanning lotions from drugstores. This is usually a cream or spray.

The users apply these products to the skin themselves, so that the intensity of the tan can be individually adjusted, for example. In this context, however, the question arises as to whether self-tanning products have a negative effect on health, which is why this following article is dedicated to answering this question.

Instructions for use, risks and tips: Self-tanning lotion from the drugstore

The advantage of self-tanners is obvious for many consumers, because the skin is colored without any harmful UV light from the sun or solarium. In contrast to the classic body lotion , there are a few things to consider when applying self-tanning creams or sprays in order to actually get an even and beautiful tan.

Application notes:

  • Even application of cream is particularly important. If you apply it too thickly and unevenly, you will get a blotchy result.
  • Self-tanners should not be used regularly. There should be a rest period of at least five days between applications.
  • Consumers should always make sure to use a self-tanner that is suitable for their skin type. There are special variants for dry skin as well as for oily skin types.
  • A quick and thorough cleaning after application is very important to prevent unsightly areas on the hands.


  • People who suffer from skin diseases should consult their family doctor or dermatologist about the use of self-tanners. There is also a risk for allergy sufferers.
  • Storage times that are too long result in favorable conditions for the formation of formaldehyde. This substance is harmful because it is said to cause cancer.
  • The formation of formaldehyde is due to another substance in the self-tanner. This is called dihydroxyacetone (DHA). This is an unstable substance that can convert to formaldehyde.
  • Artificial fragrances harm the body, for example the liver.


  • Experts recommend a body scrub before applying self-tanner. The reason for this is calloused areas that would absorb an excessive amount of tanning cream without peeling.
  • If a tube or bottle of self-tanner has been opened, it is advisable to use it up quickly. The product should be thrown away after three months at the latest.
  • It is very important to store the self-tanner in a cool and dry place. It is also advisable not to expose the tanning lotion to direct sunlight.
  • Using gloves to rub the self-tanner on your body is a good idea to save your hands until the end and rub on last.

Various areas of application for self-tanners

There are a number of reasons people resort to tanning in a tube. These can be cosmetic, but also medical concerns. The most common uses of self-tanners include:

  • Pigment disorders : With this skin disease, the skin changes color irregularly, so that a uniform complexion is not possible. With self-tanners and other cosmetics, people suffering from pigment disorders have the opportunity to unify their skin color.
  • Summer complexion: Another reason why consumers like to get a quick summer tan is the fact that they can get a light, natural tan before the start of summer. For example, if you need last-minute summer skin for an event, self-tanners are the closest you can get to the desired result.
  • Look healthy all year round: In winter, most people’s skin is very light, sometimes with a slight gray veil. This is due to the few hours of sunshine in the cold season. With a self-tanner, users can enjoy a year-round tan.
  • Color selection: In addition, many consumers see a cosmetic advantage compared to classic UV light or solarium tanning, because with a tanning lotion the skin color can be individually determined at any time. The products are available in a wide range of colors in drugstores.

An overview of the advantages and disadvantages of common tanning methods

The human skin is not only the most diverse organ of the body, but also the largest. It has numerous functions that affect both protection and regulation of the body, which is why the skin should always be cared for.

Therefore, the following overview is intended to provide information about the advantages and disadvantages of tanning methods in order to show the dangers to which the skin is exposed.

1. UV light is the free summer tan straight from the most natural source

Whether summer vacation in the South Seas or in Germany, the power of the sun should never be underestimated. Although UV light is important for the formation of vitamin D, the radiation at high intensity can also be harmful to the skin and eyes.

Advantages:+ Naturally suntanned complexion

+ Free


 Risk of sunburn without sunscreen

 Promotion of skin cancer and skin aging

2. The solarium tan treats the body with artificial UV radiation.

Similar to natural UV light, artificial UV radiation also causes damaging light effects to strain the skin. As a rule, these are devices that are suitable for the whole body. The light tubes are installed in the lid and in the lying surface, so that every part of the body gets an even and streak-free tan.

Advantages:+ Year-round use

+ Fast and uncomplicated application


 Extremely damaging to the skin

 Excessive use leads to an unnatural tan

Why the tan from the solarium tube is so dangerous can be read in detail for consumers on

3. Self-tanners as a supposedly skin-friendly alternative to natural and artificial UV radiation.

The popularity of the summer tan from the tube is increasing due to the fact that it is a supposedly skin-friendly alternative. As already mentioned, the tanning creams work without UV light, but they have other disadvantages that should not be neglected:

Advantages:+ Ease of use and cheaper products

+ Fast, individual tan


 Mottled and partly yellowish result

 With ingredients that are harmful to the skin

On you can read about various ingredients in cosmetics that should definitely be viewed critically, for example for reasons of health protection.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.