Do Sunless Tanning Pills Work?
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Do Sunless Tanning Pills Work?

There are sunless tanning pills on the market; they have an orange color to them and will turn your skin orange if you take them over any length of time. If you have thought of taking sunless tanning pills to turn your skin to a nice golden tan, think again.

Sunless tanning pills contain canthaxanthin which can ruin your eyes and cause damage to your liver. When it affects the eyes, it is called canthaxanthin retinopathy. When it affects the liver it can cause liver failure, and your skin and eyes will turn jaundiced.

The pigment, canthaxanthin, is in the same family as beta carotene. We get these compounds naturally in the foods we eat. When ingested in the foods we eat, we get minute amounts which are great antioxidants and protect us from free radicals. However, when we take them in a concentrated form as in tanning pills, we are taking high doses of the canthaxanthin which could cause internal problems in the body, which is mainly going to attack the liver and the retina of the eyes.

Canthaxanthin is found naturally in plants. It protects the plants from the harmful rays of the sun. This compound protects plants by absorbing the ultra violet photons and by diffusing the UV rays so that the plant is protected from being damaged by the sun’s rays.  

In the human body, canthaxanthin likes to live in the fatty tissues just under the skin. It is soluble in lipids, so it can be carried in your blood stream and deposited in the fat cells just under your skin. You could probably get the same result if you ate lots of carrots, and it wouldn’t be as dangerous. While it is healthy to eat loads of carrots, it isn’t a healthy option to take tanning pills.

It was quite common in the early 1980s to use tanning pills. My former husband used them and he turned orange like a carrot. Even the palms of his hands turned orange. The FDA no longer approves the sale of tanning pills containing this compound. However, you can still buy them on the Internet. They are marketed not as a medication but as a supplement and called natural. You won’t find tanning pills on your drugstore shelf, because they are illegal. But if you search on the Internet you will find them there.

Tanning pills are dangerous when used over a long period of time. You might argue that the compound, canthaxanthin, must be safe because the FDA allows it to be used in foods. In fact, it is used in food coloring. This is true. But it is not safe to be used internally as a tanning agent for the skin.


Personal experience

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Comments (1)
Ranked #24 in Healthy Living

I never even knew there were tanning pills, great article