Tanning on the Inside: A Hard Pill to Swallow?

A glowing tan looks wonderful on many people, but the health risks associated with getting a tan are well-documented. The damaging ultraviolet rays of sunshine can cause a host of skin problems and major health issues, including cancer. This is also true of tanning beds. What’s a pale face to do?tanning pillsA new crop of tanning pills promises you healthy brown skin without the risk of skin cancer, but what about the risk to your good health?

How Skin Tans

A suntan occurs when your body produces melanin. Melanin gives your skin its colour. When you are over-exposed to the rays of the sun, your body makes more melanin to try to protect the surface and deeper layers of your skin from being damaged even more. This burst of additional melanin causes the skin to “tan.”

When you use pills to get a tan, you side-step Mother Nature’s way of adding colour to your skin. With pills, there are no ultraviolet rays or melanin involved. As a result, you may not develop a natural-looking sun-kissed glow. Instead, you may find yourself looking like an orange Oompa Loompa.

tanning tabletsWhat’s in Sunless Tanning Tablets?

Tanning tablets are split into two main groups. One type promises a quick, deep, long-lasting tan. The other promises to protect you from UV rays while letting you get a deep tan. They can be made with any or all of the following ingredients:

  • Tyrosine – an amino acid that the body needs in order to make melanin. Advocates say if it is taken before a sunning session, you will get more tan in less time, thus preventing sun damage. There is, however, no research to support this claim. In fact, since the body is naturally rich in tyrosine, it will likely merely flush out anything that is ingested.
  • Paba –promotes melanin production in the body. It is used in sunscreen. Unfortunately, there is no proof that it actually affects the darkness or duration of a tan.
  • Himanthalla Elogata (HE) – a type of algae that advocates say amps up melanin production. Advertising for this product targets individuals who have sensitive skin. Makers of tanning tablets with HE says it lets their customers spend less time in the sun. Scientists say the algae, like other substances we eat, becomes ineffective when digested.
  • Beta Carotene – a natural pigment that gives carrots and pumpkins their bright orange. Advocates say that beta carotene protects the skin. It is believed the pigment reflects U/V light and doesn’t give it a chance to harm surface skin. It also protects deeper layers of skin. The bad news? Scientists warn that too much beta carotene will simply turn your skin orange. They also warn that it can cause damage to an unborn child.

Is there a safe way to tan naturally with a pill? Sadly, the answer appears to be no. Sunless tanning pills are turn your skin odd colours, cause liver damage, impair your vision, and give you hives. You can, however, consider self-tanners, usually sold as lotions, creams, or sprays.

Self-tanning lotions contain DHA (dihydroxyacetone), a safe colour additive. When applied to the skin’s surface, DHA reacts with dead skin, darkening it temporarily. The colouring, like the skin, will slough off in a few days.

To learn more on this subject we suggest you visit the Fly Tan website.