Using nasal tanning sprays is all the rage today, thanks in large part to viral videos created by social media influencers highlighting the ‘magical’ effects of these little devices. The truth is nasal tanning sprays do work as these influencers say they do. However, what nobody is talking about are the many risks associated with the use of nasal tanning sprays and therein lies the problem.
What Are Nasal Tanning Sprays And What Do They Do?
Nasal tanning sprays are essentially tanning mechanisms for the nasal passage. They are designed to overcome the problem of not being able to apply tanning creams inside the nostrils.
A nasal spray device consists of a small bottle with a spray mechanism that’s designed to be used directly in the nose. It is very easy to use by simply putting the nasal applicator tip into the nostril and pushing down on it. When pressed, the applicator nozzle releases the contents of the bottle in a fine spray into the nasal passages.
The contents are absorbed by the mucous membranes and darken the skin colour of the nasal passages, giving them a tanned look. This colouration is temporary. Nasal sprays need to be used every day to maintain the tanned look. The tanned colouration starts to fade away the next day without daily follow-up applications.
How Do Nasal Tanning Sprays Work?
The key lies in the contents of the spray. Nasal tanning sprays contain a synthetic ingredient called Melanotan, which is made in the laboratory. Melanotan is often referred to as the Barbie drug.
Melanotan imitates a melanocyte-stimulating hormone that’s produced naturally in the body. This hormone is naturally responsible for a person’s skin pigmentation. Melanotan acts the same way as this hormone but the big difference is that it is synthetically produced while the hormone is naturally produced.
When melanotan is sprayed directly into the nostrils using a nasal tanning spray, it gets absorbed by the mucous membrane in the nasal passages. From here the melanotan enters the bloodstream directly as mucous membranes do not offer any kind of barrier as the skin does.
On entering the bloodstream, the melanotan stimulates the production of melanin, a naturally occurring black-brown pigment that’s responsible for the colour of the skin, eyes, and hair.
The spurt in melanin production is what gives the skin colour in the nasal passages that distinctive tanned look.
The entire reaction is temporary though. The effects will only last as long as you continue using a nasal spray. If you stop using the spray, the melanin production decreases, and your skin will slowly fade and revert to its original colour.
Risks Involved With Using A Nasal Tanning Spray
The main risk of using a nasal tanning spray lies in the ingredients that it contains. The main active ingredient in these sprays is melanotan. This is an unregulated synthetic substance formulated in labs. When melanotan enters the body it acts like a hormone and encourages a process known as melanogenesis, which is responsible for melanin production.
The melanogenesis process is harmless when it occurs naturally but when forcefully stimulated by a synthetic substance it can cause a host of problems in the body. Inhaling melanotan is considered so risky that it is illegal to sell it in several countries including the UK.
Added to the existing risks is the fact that nasal tanning sprays are not licenced in the UK. This means that they do not go through any stringent testing process to ensure that they are safe to use. As a rule in the UK, all medicines are required to undergo rigorous quality, effectiveness, and safety testing before they are licenced for use. The absence of testing, regulating, and licensing of nasal tanning sprays raises serious issues primarily because there’s no way of knowing what other hazardous toxins they may contain in addition to melanotan.
Despite the many uncertainties surrounding these tanning sprays, one thing remains sure – they do have some serious side effects. Medical professionals around the world are sounding the alarm on the increasing use of this tanning method.
Potential Adverse Effects Associated With The Use Of Nasal Tanning Sprays
The adverse effects can range from mild and unpleasant to serious and even life-threatening. These may include one or more of these symptoms:
- Facial flushing or redness.
- Increased acne breakouts.
- Increase in freckles and moles on the body.
- Increased sensitivity to the sun.
- Diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal issues.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Decreased appetite.
- Increased risk of melanoma, an invasive skin cancer with a high fatality rate.
- Rhabdomyolysis, which causes muscle cells to disintegrate, potentially leading to acute organ injury.
- Sustained, painful erections.
Because nasal tanning sprays are a relatively recent invention, nobody yet knows the long-term repercussions of their use. Additionally, because the ingredients in each brand remain largely unknown, there’s no way to predict the exact symptoms that a person may experience. Many users may not experience any side effects when using one brand, encouraging them to dismiss the warnings and continue or even increase their dosage with time. However, various symptoms may start to manifest as they change brands.
Not knowing the underlying cause of the symptoms makes it more difficult for dermatologists and medical professionals to treat the issue, increasing the risks significantly. For now, dermatologists are cautioning against the use of nasal tanning sprays as the list of dangerous and potentially life-threatening long-term side effects far outweighs the temporary cosmetic benefits.