NASHVILLE, Tenn. - It's widely considered the safest way to get that perfect sun-kissed glow, but new reports suggest that spray tanning might not be as safe as once thought.
Soaking in the sun at Centennial Park can be a bit of a balancing act. Nashville sun bather Sarah Goude said she isn't too worried about the sun's rays since she wears sunscreen. But there are always risks in achieving that sun baked glow.
"I developed a spot on my leg that I didn't recognize before, and I went to the doctor and found out it was melanoma," said Goude.
That is one reason, in recent years, spray tans have become so popular. Videos are even available on YouTube to show consumers how to achieve that instant color in a safe setting, the alternative to tanning under ultraviolet lights.
"Take the right precautions. Don't swallow the stuff. Put a mask on if you're gonna have it done. Cover your eyes," said Nashville Dermatologist Michael Gold.
Gold said his employees and clients always take those precautions at the skin care center run out of his office, but an ABC news report released Tuesday found that's not always the case at tanning salons across the country.
The investigation also revealed the active chemical used in spray tans has the potential to cause genetic alterations and DNA damage. They produced six medical experts to support that claim.
"None of these studies they talk about actually have been done on humans yet," said Gold.
Still he admits there's cause for concern.
"I think that's one of the crucial things that I took from this story, is that we need to go and look and do the right work, to actually see if there are any problems," Gold explained.
And so, the balancing act continues: staying tan versus staying safe.
While Doctor Gold believes spray tanning is still safer than the alternative, he does not recommend it for pregnant women, or anyone under the age of 18. He said the scary reality is that we may not fully know its effects, until 10 or 20 years down the road.