Self-Tanner While Pregnant. Is That a Good Idea?

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Getting that sun-dappled look is one of the ways to make yourself feel more confidently beautiful. However, when you’re pregnant, you have to be extra careful with everything. If you think you are looking paler than you wish, you can be thinking about getting a tan. 

You can get a tan in a variety of ways. There’s the natural suntan, tanning beds and booths, spray tans, and of course self-tanners. Which is best for pregnant women? For convenience and at-home applications, many might choose to go for self-tanners. However, you might still be questioning if the use of self-tanner while pregnant is safe. 

There are opposing views as to whether self-tanners are safe for pregnant women. Some would agree that they are safe because the active ingredient only affects the outer layer of the skin. Others disagree and say that the effects aren’t clear so it is best to avoid them. We will further discuss that below. 

This article is not medical advice. Speak with your doctor for more information.


Tanning While Pregnant

No one can blame you if you want to still look your best while pregnant. Even if that means getting that sun-kissed glow. However, with the baby inside your tummy and the changes happening in your body, you could think twice about your decisions. 

Choosing to get a tan while pregnant is okay. Soaking under the sun to get it is one way to do it. There is no sure evidence that exposure to natural UV light could harm your baby directly.

However, you should still consider not exposing yourself to too much UV light. The risk of UV exposure, whether you’re pregnant or not, is still the same. You could still get sunburned if you don’t protect your skin. This can lead to cancer, wrinkles, etc.

Additionally, some warn against getting a tan using the sun or a tanning bed simply because of the heat. If you get under the sun for a long time, you are more at risk of overheating and dehydration because you are pregnant. Dehydration poses a serious risk to you and your baby. 

Furthermore, your skin could also be more sensitive while you are pregnant. The changes in your hormone levels could contribute to that. You may not easily sunburn before but you could easily have a sunburn now since you are pregnant. 

Sunscreens and Pregnancy

You may be thinking I’ll just load up on the sunscreen and soak up some rays. But even that is complicated when pregnant. As more research is performed on sunscreens, chemical sunscreens containing ingredients like oxybenzone are now in the crosshairs as potential hormone disrupters that could cause cancer. More research must be done.

But for now, many government agencies recommend pregnant mothers and young children stay away from chemical sunscreens, and instead only use mineral sunscreens.

See our article on pregnancy sunscreens for more information.

To Use Or Not To Use: Self-Tanner While Pregnant

Bondi Sands Self Tanner

As we’ve mentioned, the risk of dehydration, overheating, and UV exposure is present when sunbathing or using a tanning bed. An alternative option would be to use a self-tanner. There are many self-tanners in the market.

However, they all work by affecting the outermost layer of the skin. 

Most tests show that the active ingredient of self-tanners (DHA) doesn’t penetrate the deeper layers of the skin nor does it enter the bloodstream. It works only on the already dead cells on the outermost layer of skin.

That makes it a safe method to get yourself a tan.

However, there are still some who take utmost precaution. There are still no researches that prove that DHA doesn’t harm the baby. Consequently, many pregnant women are still not risking exposing themselves and their baby to the DHA until it has been completely proven safe. 

Unfortantely, no one is going to do a test to confirm that it’s safe. This is why Prof. Emily Oster wrote her fantastic book Expecting Better . Get it.

Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong--and What You Really Need to Know (The ParentData Series)
  • Oster, Emily (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 368 Pages - 06/24/2014 (Publication...

The final decision of whether to use a self-tanner will depend on you and your doctor. Your doctor knows the details about your pregnancy and can give some guidance.

Applying Self Tanners

Beauty By Earth Self Tanner

You’ve decided to use a self-tanner. Now it’s time to find the right one for your needs.

We get it, you could be very excited to have that bronze glow but you should still be careful. The first thing that you should do is to select an appropriate self-tanner to use. 

It would be best to choose a sunless tanning solution that comes in lotion , mousse  or cream form.

These are the ones you spread all over your body. It is best to stay away from the spray format tanners because of the risk of inhalation. We love Beauty By Earth, Tan Physics, and Mystic Tan, among others

Additionally, you should also go for a patch test before applying it all over your body. With a patch test, you apply a small amount to one area of your body.

Wait for 24 hours and observe if there are any adverse effects. 

Even if the DHA active ingredient only affects the outer layer of the skin, it is still possible that your skin could be sensitive to the other ingredients. Remember that our skin could be more sensitive now that we are pregnant.

A patch test is a good safety precaution. 

Once you’ve tested the product out and find no adverse reactions, you can now apply it to the rest of your body. Just take care not to strain yourself too much during the application. If someone else could help you with the hard-to-reach areas, then that would be better. A tanning mitt is a big help, but there are ways to apply without the mitt.

Alternatively, you may also want to equip yourself with a applicator kit set  that will help you easily place some tanning lotion over your back. 


That luxe bronze glow is attainable, even with a baby on board! There are various ways to get a tan, but you should be very careful in choosing which to use. Tanning under the sun or a tanning bed is possible, but the already-present risks are amplified for pregnant women.

Alternatively, you can choose to use self-tanners. They are safe even while you’re pregnant because they do not go beyond the outer layers of the skin. The active ingredient only works on the top layer of the skin.

However, even if they are not proven to cause any bad effects on the baby, you should still be cautious while using them. Stick to lotions, mousse, or creams and avoid those in spray forms.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).