Doctors Warn Against This New TikTok Trend: Are Tanning Nasal Sprays Safe?

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There’s a new trend on TikTok that has people spraying a tanning solution into their noses in order to get a “tan from within.”

The solutions are tanning concoctions housed in bottle form (similar to an allergy spray bottle) and are meant to be sprayed up the nose. They contain an ingredient called melanotan that stimulates your body to produce melanin, the pigment that determines skin and hair color.

Physician assistant Merry Thornton says “Melanotan is a man-made chemical similar in substance to the naturally occurring melanocyte-stimulating hormone.” She adds that it’s not a regulated substance, so it’s difficult to say how manufacturers are using the ingredient in terms of concentration and interactions with other active ingredients.

In addition, there’s not enough data or testing to recommend using tanning nasal sprays. Side effects of melanotan can include nausea, flushing, changes to blood pressure and headaches.

It can also make moles and freckles darker, and Thornton adds, “We don’t know if melanocytes could be over-stimulated, leading to melanoma.” Typical self-tanning lotions and body sprays do not contain melanotan.