Nasal spray tanning: The beauty fad that’s having dangerous consequences

By Becky Bargh 29-Mar-2022

Self-tanning injectables and nasal sprays containing melanotan II are illegal in the UK, but dozens of influencers are endorsing them online

Videos of tanning nasal sprays or injections have been viewed more than 467 million times

Tanning nasal sprays and injectables are the latest beauty trend swirling around the realms of social media.

TikTok videos that show influencers administering injectable or nasal spray tanning products have garnered more than 467.7 million views on the platform.

And there are dozens of brands on the market capitalising on the movement, with some selling products at more than £90.

What achieves this change in colour from within is the presence of melanotan II.

The chemical is an artificial hormone that stimulates the pigment cells in the skin to produce melanin, according to Cancer Research UK (CRUK).

However, used in an injectable or nasal spray, melanotan II is illegal in the UK.

“Because they are not regulated, unlicensed melanotan injections could contain other harmful chemicals that aren’t listed on their label,” CRUK said via its website.

Nasal Tanners is one brand selling products via the UK website.

The site, nasaltanners.com, even cites testimonials from Google, claiming that: “melanotan II will help stimulate the test subject’s production of melanin by stimulating the body’s melanocortin response.”

Cosmetics Business reached out of Nasal Tanners for comments.

Cancer-causing

A BBC Newsnight documentary ‘Dangerous’ Tanning Products spoke to one woman who had likely developed skin cancer because of the tanning injections she was using.

After eight months of injecting the product into her stomach and then going on a sunbed to ‘activate’ the drug, Liv discovered a mole on her leg, and was diagnosed with stage-one melanoma skin cancer.

She was 27 at the time of her diagnosis.

The documentary also sought to find out the chemical components of the tanning products available on the market.

Researchers confirmed that melanotan was present in the products they tested.

Injectables are the most common self-tanner to contain melanotan II, according to CRUK

Not only that, around 100 other ‘unidentified’ ingredients were found in the nasal sprays and injectable products that were tested.

“It’s incredibly worrying,” said one dermatologist in the documentary.

“I talk about the skin risks, but who knows what else it might be doing.”

The expert also warned people from trying the products and said that anyone using them should stop.

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“If you’re using melanotan stop, and really importantly, make sure that your skin is properly assessed and checked.”

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