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Tanning Supplements || Do They Deserve All The Hype?

A healthy tan looks super, we all agree on that. But unfortunately, a natural tan is hard to get. You need to sit under the sun for hours and this puts you at the risk for sunburns, premature aging, and skin cancer. Which leaves you with sunless tanning options from lotions, sprays, gels, and even pills. Yep, you heard it right, tanning pills. They are not a new trend as we have heard of them before, but they have gone viral on TikTok recently. So can simply taking a pill make you tan without any risks? Let’s find out.


What Are They Made Of?

The most common ingredient in tanning pills is canthaxanthin. It is basically a red-orange carotenoid that occurs naturally in certain fruits and vegetables. Also, it’s a color additive used to give some foods a red or orange tint. So chances are you have a certain amount of this compound stored in your body from the foods you consume. You might also find ingredients that have orange-to-red compounds like beta carotene lycopene, lutein, and turmeric. Tanning pills do not contain the ingredients found in sunless tanners. These usually contain an FDA-approved ingredient called dihydroxyacetone.


How Do They Work?

The active ingredient canthaxanthin in tanning pills dissolves in lipids, which make up the tissue directly below the epidermis, the color attaches the cells under your skin and gives it a darker tint. While tanning in the sun causes melanin in your skin to darken, tanning pills work from the inside out releasing pigment-changing compounds throughout your skin. And with time, your skin will turn darker.


Do They Work?

They work, just not instantly. You will start seeing results after two weeks of consistent use. And the same period to start getting back your natural color if you think you have overdone it. This means once you stop taking the pills the orange tint will start to shed. What you should expect though is a more orangish shade, not the bronze-like color you seek in tanned skin.


Are They Safe?

Is it enough to say that the FDA has not approved them yet, although these pills have been here for a while? Yes, canthaxanthin is an ingredient that we consume in certain foods, but the amounts used in these supplements are significantly higher than what’s added to food.

One of the dangerous tanning pills that has been going viral recently is L-Tyrosine. It contains an ingredient called tyrosine, a type of amino acid. Taking too much beta carotene can cause vitamin A toxicity.


What Are The Side Effects?

Tanning supplements can lead to bad side effects like hives and welts gastrointestinal issues, such as abdominal cramps and diarrhea liver damage retinopathy (eye damage) vision changes, and vision loss. What’s more troubling is that you may be at risk for these side effects for years after taking tanning pills.