The trend, which was made popular by TikTok, is attracting the attention of beauty and health experts alike – but not always in a positive way. Tanning nasal spray has become popular on TikTok. Yes, people are spraying a tan-promising solution up their noses. Experts are questioning the health repercussions of these formulae because they are prepared using unregulated chemicals.
Tanning nasal sprays are tanning solutions that are packaged in a bottle similar to an allergy spray bottle and sprayed up the nose. They contain Melanotan, a substance that encourages your body to generate melanin, the pigment that determines the colour of your skin and hair. Melanotan is a man-made chemical that resembles the naturally occurring melanocyte-stimulating hormone in structure. These tanning sprays are administered inside the nostrils to improve absorption without being intrusive.
Is it safe to use these?
Unfortunately, medicine can't support nasal treatments that encourage tanning "from within" because there isn't enough data to back them up. You tickle and stimulate your melanin-producing cells, called melanocytes, to pump out pigment when you promote melanin synthesis. You may theoretically overstimulate one of those cells to the point that it supports the formation of a tumour, such as melanoma. And since the product is administered through the nose, this can increase the side effects.
Even worse, several tanning nasal spray producers advise users to increase their UV exposure while using the product, either through the sun or through tanning beds. This is done to boost the product's efficacy by upregulation, or raising the tanning effect both internally and outwardly via the sun. Not only can UV exposure increase the danger of skin cancer and premature ageing, but a device that invites customers to get UV exposure is evidence of how unregulated the product is. The American Academy of Dermatology Association claims that tanning beds increase the risk of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer even more so for women who begin tanning before the age of 35.
Melanotan isn't found in most self-tanning creams or sprays, which is a good thing. Dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, is the major ingredient in most tanning treatments. Melanoidins are formed when DHA interacts with proteins in the skin. These are dark pigments that deposit in the skin's most superficial layer to produce the impression of a tan. DHA is also a safe choice when applied topically because it is not absorbed into the body beyond the stratum corneum. Furthermore, self-tanners come in a variety of hues to suit various skin tones.
Sunless tanners are not a substitute for SPF – sunblock with at least SPF 30 is recommended and still needs to be used (and reapplied) if you’ll be spending time in the sun.