I was blessed with a naturally tan, caramel-ish complexion (thanks mom and dad!) but after a long and brutal winter I'm really craving a healthy bronzed glow. You know, that gorgeous golden color most of us Latinas get after spending just a little too much time out in the sun. The problem is, we all already know that the sun is the worst thing you can ever expose your skin to. Forget wrinkles and age spots--it can cause skin cancer, for crying out loud! But now I'm finding myself in an even bigger dilemma after discovering that self-tanners are bad for you too. I don't mean the tanning booths I mean the at-home formulas. Dammit!


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Apparently it's the dihydroxyacetone (or DHA) found in most self-tanners that's problematic. Fox News claims that DHA is a color additive that binds to the proteins in the top layers of your skin. This is how it darkens your skin. There's no real evidence proving that this is actually harmful, but some are claiming that it can cause genetic alternations and even DNA damage. That sounds serious!

"Studies show that if you apply very high concentrations of DHA to the skin, it can result in free radical formation--free radicals are highly reactive oxygen species that are capable of damaging structures within the cell, including DNA," Dr. Whiteny Bowe, a dermatologist at the SUNY Downstate College of Medicine in Brooklyn told FoxNews.com. "Now, while that sounds scary, the actual levels of DHA in over-the-counter self-tanning products are very low, so the products are really considered safe, non-toxic, and not carcinogenic."

So now what? Bowe says to stay on the safe side by avoiding self-tanning sprays specifically. The ones applied at "tanning" booths in salons and the ones you can use at home too. Luckily, there are a ton of other self-tanning products out there that seem relatively safe. Check them out and get that gorgeous sun-kissed look without the harm!

Image via Thinkstock

Topics: suncare  tanning  self-tanning