Nasal Tanning Spray: The Scary TikTok Trend

Today I did a segment on Fox 26 Houston where I weighed in on the TikTok nasal tanning spray craze. I didn’t even know about this trend until recently when Huff Post asked me some questions about it. I was shocked to see that it is all over TikTok. For those who don’t know, nasal tanning sprays are placed in the nose, like an allergy spray, and misted. The nasal mucosa is rich in vessels and provides a direct route into the bloodstream. These products contain a synthetic chemical similar to the naturally occurring melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH). MSH stimulates the production and release of melanin, which is responsible for the in hair and skin.

In addition to nasal sprays, this chemical is also sold as drops that are placed under the tongue as well as a powder that is mixed with water and injected into the skin. These products are unregulated and unlicensed. The self-mixing formulations are of particular concern; they open the door to contamination, infection, and dosing errors. The manufacturers also recommend concurrent use of tanning beds and sunbathing, which we know causes damage to the skin.

Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, high blood pressure, flushing, headaches, yawning and tiredness, darkening of freckles and pigmentation, and spontaneous erection in males. We also don’t know if the melanocytes could be over-stimulated, leading to melanoma. Using these tanning products could also lead to misdiagnosis of skin cancer as well.

Being tan is a poor trade-off for all the potential side effects. Besides, if being tan is a priority, you can always use bronzer or sunless tanner, which contains DHA. DHA interacts with the amino acids in skin cells to produce a brown color change. It is not absorbed into the blood stream and is FDA approved in the form of creams, lotions, and mousses. The other option is to embrace your natural color. Pale is beautiful too!

Working in the aesthetics industry, I can certainly understand the desire to enhance your appearance. However, the procedures that I perform have a long-standing safety record, whereas the nasal sprays do not.

In short, don’t do it!

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