This sort of TikTok agitation has caused state attorneys general to launch an investigation for the same.
“As children and teens already grapple with issues of anxiety, social pressure, and depression, we cannot allow social media to further harm their physical health and mental wellbeing,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, said in a statement. “State attorneys general have an imperative to protect young people and seek more information about how companies like TikTok are influencing their daily lives.”
Nasal Spray Tanning
As Natalia Radosz, owner of mobile spray tanning business Glow 2 Go NYC, explains, “Tanning nasal sprays are sprays that contain melanotan or tyrosine. Melanotan is an unregulated chemical that supports melanogenesis. This is the process by which melanin is produced in the skin.”
In short, “People are using these sprays to produce pigment in their skin without having to … apply product topically,” Radosz says.
Healey, along with people from California, Florida, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Vermont, will be looking into whether TikTok violates state consumer protection laws.
The tendency for people to spray tan on their noses is the latest TikTok challenge and has caused controversy and frequent injury.
In a February TikTok by the British company “So Tanned,” a young woman appears with text stating that she uses nasal spray “morning and night” and then adds self-tanning oral drops a half-hour before getting into a tanning bed.
But Dermatologist Lily Talakoub, MD, of McLean, VA, posted a TikTok with the bold warning “DO NOT USE NASAL TANNING SPRAY!” In that video, the white-coat-clad Talakoub is in the foreground of the TikTok made by @sashawoodx.
“Don’t try this at home,” says Talakoub.
“Don’t try this even if you think it can make you tanner. It can cause nausea, vomiting, very bad side effects,” she says. She also said that “this can be very dangerous to your health.” It should be noted that self-tanning products are not approved by the FDA for the use of tan in your nose and mouth.
Furthermore, a U.K. company, “2bTanned,” posted a TikTok showing a user spraying that product up his nose and, in the comments, @2btanned suggested that the spray should be used at least a week or two before exposure to the sun “in order to get full effects.”
@sashawoodx tells her viewers “Don’t walk … RUN for these products,” as she shows herself in several outfits, squirting 2bTanned spray up her nose. As of March 2, the TikTok video had been viewed over 212,000 times.
TikTokker @giannaarose said in a video that she uses “2-3 sprays” up the nose before stepping into a tanning bed. A responder then said, “this is scary but where do I buy it.”
Nasal Spray Tannings Are Clearly Unsafe
While skipping your spray tan sessions may seem like a success, Radosz notes that this trend is “incredibly dangerous” for some reasons. Initially, any UV tan is naturally unsafe and increases the risk of skin cancer and skin damage.
In addition, these nasal spray tannings are not regulated or approved by the FDA. Radosz shares that their products are not well known, and there is limited research to support claims made by brands.
The cause for cosmetic-focused nasal spray is inhaled into the lungs is also a concern, so it quickly goes into the bloodstream. According to Radhosz, inhaling the contents of these sprays is completely unsafe due to the uncontrolled ingredient list of the sprays and the lack of research on the effects of melanoton and tyrosine absorption through the nasal passages. In fact, users may suffer from problems such as increased blood pressure, new moles and acne, vomiting, redness and nausea.
The main ingredient in self-tanning products is dihydroxyacetone (DHA), is FDA-approved for the use on skins, causes a chemical reaction when heat is applied and a pigment is deposited on the skin.
The product can lead to spontaneous erections in men, as well as nausea, redness, changes in blood pressure and headaches.
UK-based Doctor Gabriella Birley told that “Femail” the medical community holds serious fears about the long-term side effects of the products.
“Nasal tanning sprays are not licensed in the UK which means that they have not undergone the stringent safety, quality and effectiveness testing that all medicines have to undergo before they can be licensed for use,” she said.
“Because they have not undergone this level of testing, there are serious concerns amongst medical professionals about the potentially serious side effects of the product meaning that it is, therefore, unsafe to use.”
Adam Friedman, MD, professor and chair of dermatology at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, DC, insists that self-tanning products should never be inhaled and that any kind of nasal spray should be approved by the FDA, a company promoting products is playing a dangerous game.
“People could go to jail over this,” he says. He also said that the products are unlikely to produce a tan.
“Because of the way self-tanners work, it would make no sense,” he said. “It’s purely a camouflage,” and he added that it does not produce melanin, which determines skin color.
Self-tanners were never intended to be inhaled. He explained, “so who knows what those ingredients would do to a different anatomical site like the inner passages of the nose.”
When at minimum, spraying into nose could cause irritation but in the long run it can cause severe damage.
The product’s main active ingredient is melanotan, which stimulates your body to produce the pigment “melanin,” with which skin and hair colors are determined.
Friedman told that tyrosine and tyrosinase (spray ingredients) are also producing melanin, but only within skin cells. When sprayed into the nose, it can produce melanin inside the nose, but not on the skin.
“This is not going to work,” he says. “If anything, it could be dangerous.”
Friedman says that there’s no such thing as a safe tan, and self-tanning products offer no protection from dangerous ultraviolet rays. He also said that the nasal sprays are “quick fixes” that are not going to work.
“At the end of the day, just don’t inhale,” says Friedman.
The Bottom Line
An expert said on using this tanning alternative, “Under no circumstance should you ever use these sprays,” Radosz tells Bustle. “Not only is there not enough research on these sprays, but they are not FDA approved [or] regulated and we have no idea the lasting long-term effects.”
“The only safe way to tan is to use a sunless tanning option, like spray tans. At Glow 2 Go NYC, we take excellent care of all of our clients and provide them with safe, healthy-looking tans.”