Tanning accelerators: prevalence, predictors of use, and adverse effects

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2015 Jan;72(1):99-104. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2014.10.020. Epub 2014 Nov 12.


Background: Tanning accelerators are topical products used by indoor tanners to augment and hasten the tanning process. These products contain tyrosine, psoralens, and/or other chemicals.

Objective: We sought to better define the population using accelerators, identify predictors of their use, and describe any related adverse effects.

Methods: This cross-sectional study surveyed 200 indoor tanners about their tanning practices and accelerator use. Primary analysis compared accelerator users with nonusers with respect to questionnaire variables. Descriptive statistics and χ(2) contingency tables were applied to identify statistically significant variables.

Results: Of respondents, 53% used accelerators; 97% were female and 3% were male with a median age of 22 years (range: 19-67). Users were more likely to spray tan, tan frequently, and be addicted to tanning. Acne and rashes were more common in accelerator users. Adverse reactions to accelerators prevented their further use 31% of the time.

Limitations: A limited adult population was evaluated; exact accelerator ingredients were not examined.

Conclusions: Tanning accelerator users are high-risk indoor tanners who tan more frequently and who are more likely addicted to tanning. Acne and rashes are more common with these products and act as only mild deterrents to continued use. Additional research should investigate accelerators' longer-term health effects.

Keywords: indoor tanning; tanning accelerator; tanning addiction; tanning dependence; tanning lotions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cosmetics / adverse effects*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sunbathing* / statistics & numerical data
  • Ultraviolet Rays*
  • Young Adult


  • Cosmetics