The concept of the tanning pill is that you may color your skin by merely taking a pill. This is attractive in a society where the idea is “there is a pill for everything”. There are two types of tanning pills, one uses canthaxanthin as the primary ingredient coloring the skin artificially from within. The other type, suntan accelerators, use tyrosine or bergapten to synthetically make melanin during and after exposure to UV rays.
Tanning pills are illegal for sale in the US but companies may get around this by advertising as a supplement or vitamin and are available over the Internet. The FDA determined they were unsafe based on the facts that the coloring chemicals used to create the effect were not safe in the doses necessary to achieve the ‘tan’. The main additive used is canthaxanthin, similar to beta carotene, it settles primarily in the skin cells giving the orange color or ‘tan’ like appearance. The FDA continues to notify companies warning them about the use of these ingredients.
Unfortunately the doses required give nasty side effects as follows:
Nausea, cramping, vomiting, headache and diarrhea are more common side effects for both types.
Severe itching and welts on the skin surface are also associated with canthaxanthin based tanning pills.
The canthaxanthin forms crystals which settle in the eyes causing injury and vision impairment known as ‘canthaxanthin induced retinopathy’ and may require as long as seven years to reverse itself.
Reports of death by aplastic anemia were attributed to consumption of tanning pills. The side effects listed are not necessarily exhibited with all of the chemicals presented they each exhibit one or more of the listed side effects.
Based on this information you would be wise to try some of the safer proven methods available for getting the tan you want.
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*Information in this article is based on information obtained from the American Cancer Society and FDA websites.