AS THE summer washout continues, we’re having to rely on a fake tan – but is it as safe as we thought?
I TS past is pretty patchy to say the least, with only occasional successes and quite a few dismal failures. The Tango tan. The streaky legs. The stained hands and the “oh dear, I probably shouldn’t have just stopped abruptly at my ankles, should I?” disasters are etched on our memories (not to mention our fingernails), however hard we try to forget them.
These days, with alabaster-skinned celebs such as Tilda Swinton and Karen Gillan proving you don’t need to be bronzed to be beautiful, the fake tan seems to belong firmly in TOWIE land. And when news broke linking spray tans to cancer, it seemed to confirm that all was not well in the industry.
Not a bit of it, says James Read, self-styled ‘tantalist’, who has rubbed his mitts over the bare bits of everyone from Lady Gaga to Clive Owen, and whose business continues to grow after 11 years as tanner to the stars.
OK, so first the scare stories. Last month researchers at George Washington University in Washington DC expressed concern that dihydroxy-acetone (DHA), a chemical derived from sugar and which is present in all fake tans, could lead to lung cancer if breathed in during the tanning process.
Dr Lynn Goldman, dean of the School of Public Health and Health Services at the university, says, “The substance seems to have a potential for what they call creating mutations or changing DNA in living cells, which is a serious problem and needs to be further investigated, yet hasn’t been.
“What we’re concerned about is not so much that reaction that creates the tanning, but reactions that may occur deeper down with living cells that might then change DNA, causing a mutation, and what the possible impacts of that might be. I’d be very concerned for the potential of lung cancer.”
“For the casual user – the person who goes once a month – frankly there’s probably no problem at all,” added Dr Rey Panettieri, from the University of Pennsylvania. But there could be health risks for those who use salons more often than that – or for the staff who are exposed to the chemical.
The first tanning product to hit the market was Coppertone, back in the 1960s, which produced the now infamous orange colour. “Nowadays products are so advanced that it’s harder to make a mistake,” says Read, “unless you over-apply your self-tan, which can make it look unnatural.”
This summer, he says, the look is all about the 1940s pin-up. “Think Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, whose skin had a glow but was completely flawless and light-reflecting.
“On the flip-side, people are also going for the 1980s Miami tan. Tanning is now about having a natural colour and people asking where you have been on your holidays; they are now about looking real, not fake.”
More men than ever are giving in to the siren call of the tanning booth, he says. “I now tan MPs, lawyers, bankers, men in their 40s, 50s, 60s, to Hollywood actors who need me on film sets and for premières. Self-tanning is the safe way to tan as you don’t need to sit in the sun and expose your skin.”
Read was unwilling to comment on the alleged cancer risk, but the UK’s cosmetic trade association, the CTPA, has said in a statement, “In Europe the manufacture and import of all cosmetic products are covered by strict safety laws. There is a legal requirement that every cosmetic product must undergo a safety assessment before it is placed on the market.”
It adds, “The many consumers who enjoy sunless tanning may continue to do so, confident in the safety of their products.” n
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Monday 20 May 2013
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