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  • Writer's pictureKim Van Tussenbroek


A Closer Look at Ethanol and Denatured Alcohol in Spray Tan Solutions...


The allure of achieving a sun-kissed glow without harmful UV rays has led many individuals to embrace spray tanning as a safer alternative. However, it's essential to be aware of the potential dangers associated with some spray tan formulations that contain alcohol, such as ethanol, denatured alcohol, and SD alcohol (40) (an alternative name for denatured alcohol).

While alcohol has been traditionally used as a carrier and drying agent in cosmetics, its inclusion in spray tans can have damaging effects on the client's skin. In this article, we will explore the reasons why using alcohol-containing spray tan formulations can be harmful and explore safer alternatives for achieving a beautiful tan.

Moreover, we will shed light on how using alcohol in spray tan solution formulations is an outdated and cost-cutting approach. Additionally, we will discuss the dangers of spray tanners inhaling alcohol fumes from the formulation.

1. Drying Effect

Spray tan solutions containing alcohol, particularly ethanol and denatured alcohol, are known for their rapid evaporation properties, making them appealing options for manufacturers looking to expedite the drying process. However, this very attribute that seems beneficial can cause significant harm to the skin.

Alcohol tends to strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness, flakiness, and irritation. As the skin loses moisture, it becomes more prone to cracks, fine lines, and an overall dull appearance, negating the very purpose of a radiant spray tan.

2. Disruption of Skin Barrier

The skin acts as a protective barrier against external aggressors, and maintaining its integrity is crucial for overall skin health. The inclusion of alcohol in spray tan formulations can disrupt the skin's natural barrier function, leaving it susceptible to harmful bacteria, allergens, and environmental toxins. This disruption may lead to various skin problems, including acne breakouts, sensitivity, and inflammation.

3. Skin Irritation and Sensitivity

Ethanol and denatured alcohol (SD Alcohol 40) have a reputation for causing skin irritation, especially in individuals with sensitive skin. The harsh nature of alcohol can lead to redness, itchiness, and a burning sensation on the skin after spray tan application. Repeated use of alcohol-containing products may exacerbate these reactions over time, making the spray tan experience an uncomfortable one for clients.

4. Premature Ageing

Alcohol's ability to dehydrate the skin, including SD alcohol (40), can contribute to premature ageing signs. Prolonged use of spray tan formulations containing alcohol can accelerate the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and a lackluster complexion. Clients seeking a youthful and radiant appearance through spray tans might unknowingly be causing long-term damage to their skin.

5. Potential Health Risks

In addition to skin-related concerns, there are significant health risks associated with inhaling or absorbing alcohol, including SD Alcohol (40), through the skin during spray tan application. Ethanol, denatured alcohol, and SD Alcohol (40) are volatile substances that can be harmful if not handled with care. While reputable spray tan salons take measures to ensure proper ventilation and minimal contact with these substances, both spray tanners and clients might still be exposed to harmful fumes during the application process.

People's concerns about spray tanning often revolve around breathing in DHA (Dihydroxyacetone), a common ingredient responsible for the tan colouration. However, it's essential to recognise that the real concern should lie with breathing in the alcohol present in the spray tan solution, including SD Alcohol (40). The high content of alcohol in the formulation can potentially do much more damage to the lungs than DHA exposure.

For spray tanners, who are consistently exposed to the fumes during multiple applications each day, the risk is even more pronounced. Prolonged inhalation of alcohol fumes, including SD Alcohol (40), can lead to respiratory irritation, dizziness, and, in severe cases, may even affect lung function. Clients, too, may inadvertently inhale alcohol fumes during the spray tanning session, exposing them to similar health risks.

Additionally, the long-term use of alcohol-containing spray tan solutions, including those with SD Alcohol (40), can harm the skin's acid mantle. The acid mantle is a protective barrier that maintains the skin's pH balance and shields it from external elements. Over time, alcohol can disrupt this delicate balance, weakening the acid mantle's ability to protect the skin effectively. Consequently, clients may experience difficulty in achieving the desired deep colour from their spray tan, as the damaged acid mantle cannot retain the tan effectively.

To mitigate these dangers, it's crucial for both spray tanners and clients to be cautious and consider alcohol-free spray tan solution alternatives that can provide a safer option for achieving that sun-kissed glow without compromising respiratory health.

6. Cheapening Manufacturing Costs, Non-Compliance, and Hidden White-Label Products

Using alcohol-containing spray tan solutions is a very old-school way of formulating, and it cheapens the manufacturing costs. Some manufacturers fill the solution with cheap alcohol instead of using skin-nourishing ingredients, foregoing quality for cost-cutting measures. As a result, alcohol tends to sit high in the ingredients list (around 3rd or 4th in the list), indicating a high content of alcohol in the product.

Spray tan solutions containing alcohol in the formulation are often significantly cheaper for spray tanners and businesses to purchase. Alcohol is a cost-effective ingredient that allows manufacturers to produce spray tan solutions at a lower cost, but this comes at the expense of potential harm to the skin. With the ingredients list, you will always see alcohol sitting higher than ingredients that are nourishing for the skin, which means that the drying aspect from the alcohol will always outweigh the effects of those skin-nourishing ingredients. Alcohol will normally sit at around the 3rd or 4th ingredient in the list, so if it is sitting lower than that more than likely the ingredients in the list has been shuffled around intentionally. Manipulating the order of the ingredients list to hide the high alcohol content is not only deceitful but also non-compliant with the rules and regulations for labeling products. This deceptive practice is particularly concerning when it comes to spray tan solutions that are white-labeled products. White-label products are generic items produced by one company and then rebranded and sold by another company as its own. By rearranging the ingredients list, some brands attempt to hide the fact that they are using a pre-made formula from a third-party manufacturer, a practice commonly associated with white labeling to hide that it is actually a white-label. Have a look at your current Brand's ingredients list. Check whether alcohol is listed as the 3rd or 4th ingredient, as it's a common placement for alcohol-containing spray tan solutions. If you find that the Brand has manipulated the list to downplay the presence of alcohol, pushing it further down the list to create an illusion of low alcohol content, or to hide their white-label status, it raises concerns about their transparency and trustworthiness. Alcohol will consistently appear as the 3rd or 4th ingredient in a genuine formulation, indicating its significant content in the solution. Any deviation from this pattern suggests that the Brand might have altered the ingredients list to mislead customers. In such cases, it's prudent to look for an alternative Brand that offers spray tan solutions free from ethanol, denatured alcohol (or SD Alcohol 40), ensuring a reliable and skin-friendly product for your tanning needs. Choosing a reputable and honest brand will prioritise your skin's health and lead to a safer and more satisfying tanning experience.


When considering the best spray tan formulation, it's vital to choose products that prioritise skin health and safety. The potential dangers of spray tan formulations containing alcohol, such as ethanol and denatured alcohol (also know as SD alcohol 40), on the skin cannot be overlooked. Opting for alcohol-free alternatives can ensure a safer and more enjoyable experience for clients and spray tanners, promoting a radiant glow without compromising their skin and respiratory well-being.

Additionally, being aware of deceptive practices, such as manipulating ingredient lists to hide white-label products, empowers spray tanners to make informed choices and demand transparency from brands. The dangers of inhaling alcohol fumes during the application process further highlight the importance of proper ventilation and safety precautions in spray tanning environments. By prioritising skin nourishment, respiratory health, transparency, and safety, we can create a healthier and more reliable spray tan experience for all.

As spray tanners strive to provide their clients with the best tanning experience, understanding the potential damage caused by alcohol-containing solutions is crucial. Long-term use of alcohol-based formulations can weaken the skin's acid mantle, making it difficult for clients to achieve their desired deep tan over time. By opting for alcohol-free options, spray tanners can protect both their clients' skin and respiratory health while delivering beautiful, long-lasting tans.

Let's embrace tanning solutions that truly care for our skin and well-being, achieving a flawless, sun-kissed glow with confidence. Together, we can create a safer and more rewarding spray tanning journey for clients and spray tanners alike with alcohol-free solutions.

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