According to the newspapers, 'white' is the new 'brown'. That is good news, as these days we are aware of the dangers from the sun.... We no longer dare to sunbathe on the Spanish beaches with the coconut oil and aluminium foil this summer. And for most households the sun bed has now been converted into the dogs sleeping place. Despite this we still cannot completely accept the "new brown". Lots of experimenting is therefore taking place at weekends with spray pants, self tanners and bronzing powders. You see the evidence by the brown palms of the hands on a Monday morning! But now there is something new: melanotan - an injection which gives you a prolonged tan.
Tanning with injections. How does it work?
Through exposure to the sun's rays, the skin makes melanin and becomes brown. But this process is also damaging the skin. Melanotan promises the same effect, but without the damage. Injection of the hormone-like substance activates the skin cells to make melanin. Sounds too good to be true. You don't need to see a Specialist for this, as you can just (yes, really) buy and inject it yourself. The amount you use depends on your body weight.
Unusual side effects and topping up your tan...
The stuff is not completely free from side effects. Melanotan I causes less side effects than Melanotan II, but you can expect nausea, tiredness and flushing. Melanotan II can cause weight loss and has a Viagra- like effect. Hmm, as I'm writing this I expect that this is like music to some people's ears. In fairness I should tell you that clinical trials with Melanotan II have ceased because the product causes blood pressure to increase. They also advise 'topping up' if you want to quickly achieve the desired colour. As if it is a good idea to use anyway?
Melanotan is still not approved as a drug. It is therefore actually an illegal product. There is no control on the quality and purity of the product. It is also not clear what the long term effects are. Although in the research which was carried out, it looked as though the pigment that is made can give protection against the damage from the sun, there is also concern as to whether the product can stimulate the growth of melanoma (the most severe form of skin cancer). What we do know, is that it can cause the growth and colour of pigment spots and freckles to worsen. In my opinion then just wait a while for tanning injections! Shortly research will be published that will hopefully give us a clearer picture about the safety of the product. I promise to keep you informed!
(Dr. Jetske Ultee-Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatology)
You can also read: 'human fat in cosmetic products?',
'research has revealed that...',
'a self tanning cream or the sun's rays?',
'ingredient choice for pigment spots',
'an alternative to a facelift. Or not?',
and 'smearing a cellulite cream. Is it worth it?'.