By the way, doctor: Are self-tanning sprays and lotions safe?

Q. I'd like to keep the tanned look I got during summer vacation. Are self-tanning lotions and sprays a good idea? Are they safe to use?

A. When you sunbathe, the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays cause the skin to increase its production of a protective pigment called melanin, which manifests itself as a tan. Despite its association with good health and good looks, a tan is actually a sign of skin-cell damage, which can increase the risk for skin cancer and accelerate skin aging. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using self-tanning lotions and sprays as an alternative to tanning in UV light from the sun or an indoor tanning bed.

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