Laura Bond, supplements and lifestyle medicine to boost your health and protect the planet
4 Responses

Natural Fake Tan

With less than a week till Christmas most of you will be in full festive swing.

That means hangovers, ham-overs and champagne all round (or, if you’re like Mum, sparkling kombucha).

It also means dressing up and going out, and for many women (and apparently one in ten men) fake tans.

We’ve been living in the bronze age for over a decade now – see Victoria Beckham’s wedding pictures in 1999 – and although these days we might prefer olive hues to the tango-d look of yesteryear, our love of fake tan shows now signs of abating.

Fake tan sales are worth an estimated £100 million a year and are the fastest-growing area for cosmetic sales.

But our favourite beauty treatment has a dark side.

Scientists have warned that the active ingredient, dihydroxyacetone (DHA) – which reacts with amino acids in the skin to turn it brown – has the potential to cause genetic alternations.

UK health journalist of the year, Sarah Stacey, recently flagged up the dangers in a piece in YOU Magazine:

‘If this [DHA] gets into the bloodstream, it could theoretically alter and damage DNA, which could in turn lead to the development of cancers and malignancies,’ she writes.

Diabetes, obesity and birth defects have also been linked to the ‘cocktail’ of chemicals in bronzing lotions.

In a recent article in The Telegraph Elizabeth Salter-Green, of UK charity the Chem Trust, warned:

‘Many of the chemicals in fake tan are toxic to reproduction and can harm a foetus.’

Beyond the Biscuit Smell

The recent science only validates what many of us have long suspected: that when you enter a tanning booth you’re not in Mother Nature’s kitchen.

The overwhelming reek that permeates salons that ‘do sprays’, should send alarm bells ringing, but the desire to look good tends to override good sense.

For years I’ve left appointments, sticky and smelly, wondering ‘is this a good idea?’ – before thinking ‘now I can go for a swim at the beach tomorrow.’

Any misgivings were cast aside by a desire to look glowing and five kilos lighter.

But unlike me, one plucky woman from the Gold Coast, took action.


Sonya Driver

When Sonya Driver’s sister was diagnosed with melanoma three years ago, she began researching the ingredients in spray tans (The sisters had started having fake tans to avoid the potential risk from UV rays).

Sonya didn’t like what she found and decided to develop her own organic self-tan.

After thousands of hours of research, Driver finally came up with Eco-Tan, a formula that contains NO, synthetic food colouring, GMO ingredients or petrochemicals. And NO biscuit smell.

Instead Eco-Tan products are made from:

Natural cacao

Honeysuckle Flower Extract

Avocado Oil

Rose Geranium Oil

Grapeskin Extract


I came across the company when I was last back in Perth. Wanting to look my best for my brother’s twenty-first (determined not to appear the pale, ancient sister from London) I googled ‘organic tan’ and quickly came across Centro Innovative Health in West Perth.

The natural medical clinic recently started offering Eco-Tan sprays to clients.

Both Mum and I decided to give it a go. After completing a grueling seven day detox (more on that later) we were in the mood for some pampering. And it certainly was a treat.

We were greeted by the founder of the centre, Susan Carr, an award-winning naturopath, who surprised us both with the news that she would apply the tan.

Carr – who is no doubt more at home with hormone analysis than taking aim with a spray gun – bravely stepped in to bronze us, in the absence of one of her staff members.

As Mum and I took turns to stand starkers in a luxurious tent in the middle of a well-ventilated room (I think it was the reception area) Carr explained how she had grilled the company before deciding to offer Eco Tan. ‘Being a naturopath, I wanted to know that it wasn’t going to harm my clients in any way,’ she says.

Mum and I emerged from Centro Innovative Health, head-to-toe in a honey-smelling gloss – with a stash of organic teas and lipsticks in hand.

Mum and I before Banjo’s 21st

According to Carr there has been a steady increase in demand for the service and the product is now stocked at a variety of different health shops and clinics.

There’s even a dedicated Eco-Tan stall at Mum’s local farmer’s market and apparently the products are ‘big in Broome.’

Mum believes it’s the best tan she’s ever had.

I personally couldn’t decide which I preferred, the Eco Tan or The Organic Pharmacy tan I’d previously tried in London…

The active ingredient in The Organic Pharmacy Self-tan is a ‘100% natural DHA made from sugar beet.’

Photo courtesy Robert Wallace/

Katy Perry is said to be a fan, along with a host of other celebrities who don’t appear on The Only Way is Essex.

I recently made contact with Margo Marrone, co-founder of The Organic Pharmacy, to find out what makes her tan superior to the rest.

Marrone, a homeopath, explained that the bad smell usually associated with fake tan is largely due to formaldehyde residue.

‘During the processing of DHA – which comes from sugar – it is sometimes possible for formaldehyde to be involved in converting the Sugar to DHA,’ she says.

‘Our DHA comes form an Ecocert certified source where formaldehyde is forbidden so the DHA is gentle and does not give the awful smell usually associated with self-tan cream. Combined with nourishing shea butter and hydrating Aloe it means the cream goes on really well, does not streak and gives natural tan.’

I spent last summer in England topping up my sugar-beet tan. The grey skies put paid to a sun-kissed glow and I figured it was the next best thing. At weddings it elicited a lot of ‘you look well’ rather than the knowing, ‘nice tan’

This week I’m booked in for another festive bronzing. If anyone asks… I’ve just got back from Perth.  In the meantime I hope you all have a joy-filled Christmas and Happy New Year. I’ll see you in 2013 – with light and love. Laura

For comments click here


4 Responses to Natural Fake Tan

  1. sue park says:

    Lots of love and light to you Laura for a beautiful winter christmas.

  2. Ken Linder says:

    Living in Australia, I cringe every single time I see a government sponsored advert telling people to stay out of the sun, due to high cancer risks. Mind you, living under a hole in the ozone (thank you chlorofluorocarbons and corporate greed sans ethics) it is best to limit your sun exposure – but NOT to avoid it entirely (as people are doing in droves) having been made to be frightened of sunlight by a deluge of dubious government sponsored ads on TV. We are now, en mass, a people without enough vitamin D from avoiding sunlight… on a continent that has soils that are abysmally low in selenium levels.

    What they don’t bother to tell people in these adverts, is :

    1) not all skin blocks are equal (few are safe)
    2) vitamin D (from sun exposure) fights cancer (and potently).
    3) the worst skin (dangerous) skin cancers at not caused by sunlight

    *** 1) not all skin blocks are equal

    Nearly all sunblocks (slip!, slop!, slap!) contain very dangerous substances that ought to be outright illegal in off-the-shelf consumer products, and which are far worse for you than the sun is. This includes increasing your risk of getting liver disease, neurological disease and even cancer – all from the junk in your various makeups, skin creams, shampoos, conditioners, etc. This is the reality of nearly all beauty products, which is why so many of the big brands are now engaged in green-washing their products (without changing them very much). These are toxic stews of ingredients that go right through the skin. The people who make this junk act like the skin is a full-on barrier, but it isn’t much of one. Put a piece of garlic or cayenne on the inside of your lower arm (most people will start to taste the stuff in under a minute).

    *** 2) vitamin D (from sun exposure) fights cancer.

    Although very tiny segment of the population – people who have utterly messed up biochemistry just don’t make vitamin D or absorb it very well (I am one of them, and have FMS, CFS, CMPS and MCS to boot) nearly everyone reacts to sunlight by making vitamin D and it is a potent fighter against cancer. Staying out of the sun all of the time is a very good way to increase ones vulnerability to cancer, not the likelihood of avoiding it. Moderate sun exposure is necessary for human health. The sun also helps to regulate the way that the pineal gland operates, in the production of melatonin from Tryptophan, and in regulating our hormones. Got PMS? Try some sunlight along with your vitamins.

    *** 3) The biggest piece of the propaganda has to do with outright deception.

    Suntans are portrayed by government sponsored ads down here as “Killer Body Art”. However the deadly skin cancers are those that metastasize, and all of those are from exposure to dangerous man-made chemicals, not from the sun. Not looking like an old leather purse at 40 is a good thing,, and avoiding unfortunate scars from having you GP cut out a fair sized hunk of flesh is very good. However, the way that skin cancer is now presented by these adverts, and even in TV shows that are *not* paid adverts, is outright wrong in its content.

    Patients are show in reality hospital and drama shows, who have skin cancer which has moved into some other part of the body. These are worst of the skin cancers; highly dangerous metastasizing melanomas. The popular hysteria band wagon is now huge and we are all told that they come form the sun, and they do not.

    As a result people flock to tanning salons for spray tans – nearly all of which *are* very dangerous. Meanwhile the sorts of cancer they are the most frightened of don’t come from the sun at all.

    Now it is true that that farmer on the tractor *is* at a higher risk for dangerous forms of cancer, but from not so much from the sun as from the synthetic agro chemicals in use, which the farmer breathes at application and by stirring up soil – soil that is inundated with them several times a year, and which are also making a lot of people in farming areas have serious fertility problems, and making them sick with Parkenson’s, Alzheimer’s, ect – and dramatically raising their chances of having kids with Aspergers Spectrum Disorder.

  3. Rosa says:

    This is very interesting. I have stage 4 leiomyosarcoma and I’m a pale english rose who used home fake tan ( l’oreal summer body mostly ) all summer for 5 years… I always thought there was a connection… thank you. Im now juicing and detoxing away amongst other therapies…Thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *