TikTokers Are Going Crazy Over a Tanning Nasal Spray — But Is It Safe?

Nasal spray tanning is all the rage on TikTok and we find out if it’s safe

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I’m an older millennial, so one of my biggest embarrassments is that I went to the tanning bed in the early 2000s. But at the time, people would do anything, even risk skin cancer, for skin. golden. Now that we’re much more informed about the risks, most people opt for one of the dozens of stellar indoor tanning products on the market. But it seems that some are still trying risky products in search of their ideal skin tone. On TikTok, nasal spray tanning has gone viral. Yes, people are spraying a solution into their noses that promises tanned skin. But is it safe to use? And how it works?

We chatted with the New York dermatologist, Dr. Whitney Bowe to get to the bottom of this rather worrying trend. “Unfortunately, nasal sprays that promote tanning ‘from within’ simply don’t have enough science to prove their safety for me to endorse them,” she says. “When you stimulate melanin production, you are basically tickling and stimulating melanin-producing cells, called melanocytes, to pump out pigment. Theoretically, you could actually overstimulate one of those cells in such a way that it actually encourages the formation of a tumor, like melanoma.” Hey!

Dr. Bowe recommends staying away from these sprays until they go through rigorous safety testing. There are a few other big red flags you see with the Permatan brand specifically. First, the brand claims that the formula works even better with Sun exposure, responding to a comment on TikTok: “Works just as well with natural artificial UVs so they can be used with tanning beds.”

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“Encouraging deliberate sun exposure or use of tanning beds is a big ‘no’ in my book!” says Dr. Bowe. “UV rays from the sun or from a tanning bed not only promote skin cancer, they also promote accelerated aging. There is also the misconception that a ‘base tan’ can protect you from getting burned. Whether you get sunburned or tanned, either is a sign of DNA damage that can increase your risk of skin cancer and premature aging later in life.”

Dr. Bowe is also concerned about the way the formula is administered. “The mucous membranes in your nose allow absorption into your bloodstream and put you at risk for systemic side effects,” she says. “I have heard reports of people experiencing nausea, hives, and even fluctuating libido as a result of using these sprays.” And then there’s the fact that your skin is supposed to stay tan. years?! If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

“No tan should persist for years,” says Dr. Bowe. “The whole website looks fishy and I don’t know if I trust the ingredient list.”

Instead, she recommends using topical self-tanning creams and lotions that contain DHA (dihydroxyacetone). “We know that when DHA is rubbed on the skin, it stains the skin superficially and is considered safe,” he says. Some of my favorite brands include Jergens, St. Tropez, Tan-Luxe, and Isle of Paradise. Or you can remember that all skin is good skin and that you don’t have to have a certain level of tan to be pretty.

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