WE all know by now there is no such thing as a healthy glow.
Student Erin Rider used a £32 nasal tanner
She said her skin erupted in painful spots which have left permanent scarring
Yet despite this, millions of us are still desperate for a tan. One in four women think a holiday isn’t successful if they return home without one.
Now, younger generations are so intent on being bronzed that they are inhaling tanning solutions, said to speed up the process.
The consequences of incorrect use range from nosebleeds to acne, hair loss, headaches and dizziness.
Some experts say the products — often containing unlicensed Melanotan-2 — could in high doses increase the risk of skin cancer.
Student Erin Rider used a £32 nasal tanner, and said her skin erupted in painful spots which have left permanent scarring.
The 20-year-old, from Bedfordshire, says: “Nasal tanners were not very widely used when I started using them, it was a risk. But I had seen a few women on TikTok rave about them. So I decided to give it a go last April.
“They were super-easy to get hold of. I saw them on TikTok then Googled ‘nasal tanners’ and found them sold online.
“After placing my order I received an email from the brand, Totally Tanned MT, stating it was ‘not for human consumption’ which made me very sceptical.
“My friends said I was crazy but I’d seen other women have an amazing tan from these with little to no side effects so I took them regardless. After the first couple of uses my tan was amazing.”
Like many young women, Erin used sunbeds.
Shockingly, an estimated 62,000 children in England use them too.
A survey by the British Skin Foundation found 77 per cent of dermatologists believe sunbeds should be banned here.
Indeed, research released this week by the University of Manchester suggested a ban on commercial sunbeds would prevent THOUSANDS of cancer deaths, finding that sunbed use increases the risk of developing skin cancer by as much as 60 per cent.
However, Erin says: “I was only using sunbeds to enhance my tan. I don’t like being in the sun as I get hot and bothered so I’d rather pop to a sunbed to tan.
“But I started to notice painful spots on my face. I’d never had spots. I thought maybe it was hormonal. I continued to get the spots for months and it really impacted my confidence.
“The spots turned out to be cystic acne. I never linked the spots to the nasal sprays but when I put two and two together and Googled possible side-effects, I stopped taking it immediately.
“The acne eventually turned into pigmentation and my forehead was patchy with visible white marks.
“I would never leave the house without heavy make-up. I didn’t want to see people because of how awful my skin was. Five months on, it’s wrecked my skin for ever. The scarring is permanent.
The spots turned out to be cystic acne. I never linked the spots to the nasal sprays but when I put two and two together and Googled possible side-effects, I stopped taking it immediately.
“I have visited a skin specialist and have been told the scarring will only go away with laser resurfacing which can cost upwards of £400.”
In the UK it is illegal to sell nasal sprays or injectables containing Melanotan-2.
Also known as the Barbie drug, Melanotan is an artificial hormone designed to simulate the skin’s release of the pigment melanin.
The Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has warned against use of specific tanning sprays, saying they are unlicensed.
But the nasal sprays, costing from £20 to £35, are a hit with younger people and have become a social media phenomenon.
TikTok and Instagram claim selling the drug on their platforms is banned and promotional content will be removed.
But dozens of influencers have posted about it, while Geordie Shore stars Charlotte Crosby and Bethan Kershaw have told followers about using Real Tan nasal sprays.
A representative for Charlotte, who has 7.6million followers, said: “Charlotte has never used or promoted nasal tanners.
The only Real Tan product Charlotte ever used was a tanning gel which was gifted to her.
“Charlotte would never knowingly promote a company illegally selling unlicensed products.”
Experts warn of scary side-effects. Bruce Green, founder of the SOS Serum Skincare range, notes: “Many tanning nasal sprays carry wording such as, ‘Our product is intended for research purposes only and we do not promote it for personal use’.”
He says the spray can upset the melanin balance, adding: “It seems the nasal spray could trigger vitiligo, too, a pigmentation problem which is not well understood.”
I have visited a skin specialist and have been told the scarring will only go away with laser resurfacing which can cost upwards of £400.
Healthcare worker Lauren Primrose was unaware of the dangers. The 26-year-old from Glasgow says: “I’d seen influencers posting pictures of tanning nasal sprays. I was already using sunbeds.
” I bought the sprays from Instagram pages after seeing friends share them. I paid £25 for one but you can get two for £40.
“The brand tells you to go on a sunbed once you’ve used it. I noticed a difference after just a few trips. I had this amazing glow.
“But then came the side-effects. My nose burned when I sniffed it and I would feel sick straight after. I often felt nauseous.
“The more you use it, your tan turns a funny shade with light and dark splodges. I wasn’t happy so after a couple of weeks, I stopped. I still use sunbeds but not as much — and not with sprays, only sunbed creams.”
Google searches for “tanning nasal spray side-effects” and “how to use tanning nasal spray” have soared lately.
And though many TikTok videos promoting products have been removed, they have racked up many millions of views.
Consultant dermatologist Dr Emma Wedgeworth, of the British Skin Foundation, says: “Reports have linked the use of these sprays to changing moles, skin cancers and even kidney damage.
“They are unlicensed and have not been comprehensively tested or subject to the rigorous clinical standards medicines usually are.
“We don’t yet fully understand how harmful these sprays could be and how they may impact on our health.
“We should not be putting unlicensed, potentially harmful chemicals into our body for aesthetic purposes.”
Dr Sophie Shotter, founder of Illuminate Skin Clinic, warns: “Just because it’s going up your nose and not being injected (like tanning injections) doesn’t make it safer.
“The nasal lining is very thin and drugs are absorbed very effectively.
“Melanotan comes with some pretty nasty side-effects including possible sexual dysfunction. One study linked it to renal infarction, a serious kidney complication.”
NHS worker Jade Glackin, 22, believes her dizziness is down to nasal tanners.
She says: “I began using them in lockdown 2020. At first I got really bad pigmentation but I stopped for a while and it went away. I think the dizziness is because of how long I’ve done them for — on and off for a couple of years.
“But I don’t get sickness any more. I think my body is used to them now.
“I’ve read negative stuff but I enjoy using them. Sometimes I get a bit worried but I think, ‘I’ve used them before’.”
Matthew Gass, of the British Association of Dermatologists, says: “We strongly urge the public to avoid unlicensed tanning products, including injections and nasal sprays, which can carry health risks.
“If you want a tan, the best way is using a fake tanning product.”
NHS worker Jade Glackin, 22, believes her dizziness is down to nasal tanners
Healthcare worker Lauren Primrose was unaware of the dangers of nasal tanners when she started using them
In the UK it is illegal to sell nasal sprays or injectables containing Melanotan-2