Can I have a spray tan?

(c) French Vogue
(c) French Vogue

What says ‘glow’ better than a spray tan? But it’s another of those beauty treatments that some people um-and-ah about before slinging their bump in front of the spray gun. I was somewhat embarrassed and felt my first pang of, “I’m going to be a bad mother,” when a beautician turned me away from a spray tan in my 8th month of pregnancy. I felt sure they couldn’t harm my unborn baby, and when I questioned the decision, she could only say that it was against company policy. So I went straight to a pro, tanning expert, James Read for the definitive answer.

“Spray tans are not harmful during pregnancy – they work on the top layer of the skin, not going into the deeper levels and therefore not entering the bloodstream.”

You should of course check with your healthcare professional, but in theory, you’re good to go golden. But before you book, James has a warning:

“When pregnant, your skin pigmentation changes so the tan may go on slightly differently to normal, or may not last as long. It depends on the individual.”

I’ve heard of bumps going really dark while the rest of the tan didn’t take; patchy swirls of colour like marble, and I myself found that tans didn’t show up well other than on my face, bizarrely. But you have to try it to know… PBG tip: have cotton wool pads on standby if you’ve already started producing colostrum – a trickle of that is the fastest route to streaky tanning.

Once you’ve had your baby, you may want to step away from the spray tan booth, however. You run the risk of rubbing off on your child, and of course if you’re breastfeeding, you don’t want anything going from your nipple to your baby other than milk.

In terms of DIY tanning, much like your skincare it makes sense to go natural. Fake Bake famously bronzes without ‘harsh chemicals’, and St Tropez’s Naturals range uses VegeTan, a botanical tanning agent. I used both during pregnancy, and the best spray tan I did manage to wangle was with James’ Liquid Tan Light £24.50.


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