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  • Tanning Pills - Yes or No?

    Are Tanning Pills Good or Bad for Your Health?

    With growing awareness over the dangers of larger doses of UV rays and annual increases of skin cancer cases, it is no surprise that people are searching for alternative tanning methods. Many see visits to tanning salons as unaffordable or inconvenient so look for new and easy ‘DIY’ methods such as tanning pills, but do they really work? And more importantly, are they dangerous?

    What Are Tanning Pills?

    Tanning pills are developed as an alternative to the health and premature ageing risks of UV rays and are available in two types, sunless tanners, and tanning boosters. Sunless tanners work without the need for any sunshine and contain carotenoids, particularly beta carotene, your body stores these nutrients and eventually emparts a bronzing, tanned effect close to a natural suntan. Most contain a food additive called canthaxanthin, which, over time, turns skin a dark orange.

    Tanning boosters are designed to enhance the bodies ability to produce melanin - the skin pigment responsible for the tan colour under our skin. It does this by including the building blocks of the pigment such as copper and L-tyrosine.

    Are Tanning Pills Safe?

    Although many tanning pill producers claim to have enriched their formula with various vitamins such as C and E to help protect the skin from harmful UV rays, they have still not been passed as safe by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Canthaxanthin, typically used as a food additive is used in excess of what is found in processed food. This has been known to turn skin dark orange (rather than the natural, healthy-looking tan as advertised) - there is also a risk of developing urticaria, which can cause skin rashes.

    Beta-carotene, the substance that gives carrots the orange colour, is often used in tanning pills. Once this is swelled it is deposited around the body, especially beneath the skin, which is what generates the orange colour. According to Cancer.org “They (Beta-carotene and similar additives) may be harmful at the high levels that are used in tanning pills… canthaxanthin, can show up in your eyes as yellow crystals, which may cause injury or impair vision”, according to Cancer,org, there have also been reports of skin and liver problems.

    Tanning PillsTanning boosters or ‘accelerators’ use various amino acids - there is have little proof that they work. In fact, the FDA considers them "unapproved new drugs that have not been shown to be safe or effective”.

    In comparison with many spray tanning products and lotions, there is also no apparent sun-protection. Sunless tanning products such as lotions, extenders and self-tanners often contain UV protection and actually help moisturise the skin. Not only this but FDA approves the use of DHA, typically found in most tanning solutions.


    You should be aware of the risks when purchasing any digestible tanning pills or tablets - there is little evidence that they work and bearing in mind they are not approved by Cancer.org or the FDA, it may not be worth the risk. 

    Read more about tanning solutions available.

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