We all know that exposing the skin to the sun without protection is dangerous, but how do tanning pills compare? Tanning pills all use carotenoids, a kind of pigment. The way it changes your skin tone is the same way that eating a fruit or vegetable with carotene can change your skin color. It is naturally derived and won’t give you wrinkles or cause skin cancer, but there are downsides as well.
What They Do
The same pigments in tanning pills are used as additives for food coloring, and in food for chickens’ diets to change the color of the eggs they lay. In this way, the pills don’t turn your skin brown as much as orange. The kind of carotenoid used in tanning pills is canthaxathin. This dissolves in the fat beneath your skin to change the skin’s color. This process is not immediate and changes in skin pigmentation can vary drastically from person to person.
What They Don’t Do
There is not currently any conclusive research about the effectiveness of tanning pills in creating a satisfactory tan. On top of that, many people find that it takes a large dosage to see any results. Even then, they often find themselves a startling orange shade. The amounts of pigment consumed in the pills are much higher than any pigment we consume on average. Some people need more than two weeks to see any results at all using the pills. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not currently claim that tanning pills are safe.
Tanning pills are a gamble, from both a health and aesthetic perspective. The positives of avoiding real sun and the dangers that come along with UV exposure may not outweigh the lack of research or the possibility of an unnatural skin color. If you don’t mind looking a little like a carrot, this might be your new tanning solution!