Melanotan Suntan in a Syringe

MelatoninWhat is safest? (a) The risk of daily and then weekly injections of an untested compound targeted at activating your pigment cells to give you an all-over suntan without having to spend time in the sun or on a UV sunbed or (b) The great outdoors and a healthy approach to sun exposure?

For a group of delightful young women in Northern England, where the sun shines strongly only rarely I can tell you having grown up there, the answer was obvious – (a) the regular injections.

But, what are they injecting daily for a week and then weekly thereafter? What is this compound that stimulates a higher than normal skin pigmentation level and gives the young women the appearance of having just returned from a fortnight lounging by the pool somewhere much warmer and sunnier than oop north? Well, it is called Melanotan and it’s illegal in the UK, i.e. it has not received approval from the medical authorities. It is nevertheless, being sold illegally over the internet and in some tanning salons and body building gyms.

So, is it worrying is that melanotan has not gone through the full gamut of safety tests required of pharmaceutical products, and yet the young women seem unconcerned when confronted with that fact in the following BBC news video clip.

There is the possibility that it is perfectly safe and if not perfectly safe then safer than ultraviolet tanning beds, and according to cancer charities possibly a whole lot safer than chronic sunbathing. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has said that injecting Melanotan could have serious side-effects. But, given that full clinical trials have not yet been completed, they could just as easily have said that it could have no serious side-effects.

Melanotan purportedly boosts the body’s production of melanin, the natural pigment produced by the skin on exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. To be honest, to my eye, none of the young women in the video even looked particularly tanned.

Apparently, there are two versions of the injectable suntan – melanotan I and melanotan II and both are analogs of the naturally occurring peptide hormone alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone. I’d certainly never consider injecting with any hormone except under doctor’s orders and certainly not for the sake of getting an artificial tan. If the health experts are right and there are safety problems with melanotan, then who’s to say these girls aren’t putting themselves at risk of some nasty effects, melanoma in a syringe, perhaps?

But, like I say, I much prefer the great outdoors and a sensible attitude to sun exposure. (Oh, except for that time I got burnt on that warmer and sunnier fortnight).


  1. A quick follow up to this item from affirms that melanotan injectioons are illega; in the UK and may be unsafe.

  2. Diable de Paris

    Wired Magazine’s published an excellent article on the melanotan peptide which covers some of the aspects of the dangers:


  3. Melanotan has its side effects but it is up to the users to research on the possible output of taking melanotan into their system. But as of the forums and blogs that I have read,they are fond of this drug because they only got good tanning results.

  4. That’s just plain wrong, if a product is proven dangerous and potentially lethal it shouldn’t be “up to the users” to research it, legislation should be brought in to ban such a product and to prevent unscrupulous companies from selling such products.

  5. To blanket say that the melanotan peptides are “illegal” in the UK as you did in your first comment here is a bit short. The reality is that while it is illegal for individuals and companies to promote and/or sell the peptides (without authorization) within the borders of the UK (and UK websites) it is not illegal for individuals to purchase them via importation. Also in many countries it is not illegal for companies to export the peptides as unlicensed drugs (ie: the U.S.).

    Even the MHRA’s Claire Tilstone explains in the following BBC broadcast that they are not illegal to use:×9&bbwm=1

    Thank you,
    -Scott Stevenson – afamelanotide Founder & Admin

  6. @Scott Well, I didn’t just say they’re illegal did I, I qualified the term with an “id erat”, so it wasn’t quite as short as you imply. So, yes, it’s probably strictly speaking okay to buy them, but they’re not meant to be sold here because they lack approval. And, for good reason it seems, regardless of whether my “blog post” didn’t come up to the exacting standards you seem to expect. More to the point, it’s not like this product has any real value in society, is it? Artificial tanning, indeed! It doesn’t even have the benefits of promoting vitamin D biosynthesis. It’s quite irrelevant that they’re not officially illegal to use, if they’re causing serious harm they should be.

  7. i use melanotan and it was a risk i was willing to take. There is no proven long term side effects and it has been around since the 1980′s.
    If there was anything dangeroulsy wrong with the product it would have been found by now.

    Smoking cigaretes has been proven to cause cancer and kill but even with the warnings that have back up proof people still continue to smoke, so why should anyone not take melanotan if nothing has even been proven that it causes any harm.

  8. @Tameka I don’t think I said anyone should not use it. Personally, I just don’t see the point. Moreover, you really cannot tell what the long-term risks are of regular injections of this stuff, too few people use it, is has not been studied widely. But, yes, you’re right about cigarettes, for sure.

  9. It depends upon the view and need of a person if he/she wants to use melanotan or not. Though many have said that it is too dangerous to use melanotan, why there are still people who want to try it and other want to continue using it? It is because the product provides effective and satisfying tan-result and is not that “dangerous” as what others (who have not used it yet) are saying.

  10. @J That sounds like nonsense to me. It’s not a matter of whether any one of us has tried it and come to an opinion about it’s safety. For pity’s sake, people are permanently up in arms about trivial amounts of chemicals designed to kill crop pests or prevent food from giving us botulism or some other horrendous disease and yet there are people choosing to be injected with untested substances so that their skin can be darkened without the “risks” of sun exposure. Get a life, why don’t you?

  11. I love to tan over the week-ends and I continually use tanning cream to help my skin get a darker tan. Sometimes I neglect to put on eye protection….is this actually all that awful?

  12. honest, some of the people who think that the actual injection of the peptide gives you the tan really need to research a little more before making any coments, and to the person who says that its artificial, i really think you should study a subject before you open your mouth, it’s your own body’s melanin that gives you a tan, whatever colour you go is your body’s melanin that determains what shade you go , this peptide is a synthetic hormone m.s.h, that stimulates your body’s production of melanin nothing artificial about that. okay. you dont tan, why? because you dont produce enough melanin, or to get to the root of that, because the piturity gland does not release enough of the hormone m.s.h, if it did then your production levels of melanin would be high, therefore you would tan, so the injection of the synthetic hormone, binds to meloncytes and stimulates prodution of your body’s melanin. some people need it spelling out.

  13. David Bradley

    Afamelanotide is a synthetic analogue of ?-MSH that has been shown to induce skin pigmentation through melanogenesis and thereby subsequently reduce sun (UV) damage to UV exposed skin in preliminary studies and clinical trials.

    It is currently being clinically trialled in the form of a “grain of rice” sized bioabsorbable subcutaneous implant as a potential therapeutic photoprotection inducing agent for a series of light related skin indications.

    Melanotan II is a non-approved synthetic analogue of ?-MSH that has been shown to have melanogenesis (tanning) and aphrodisiac effects in preliminary studies and clinical trials.

  14. Courtney Lloyd

    Bob Marley died of Melanoma right ?-;,

  15. David Bradley

    Yes, he had acral lentiginous melanoma, to be precise, which became metastatic.

  16. I am ardent about this issue as I have combated various degrees of “AK” for quite some time and wish I had to do it all over again. I am greatful to anyone who broadcasts reputable information so the importance of taking good care of your skin, and never taking healthy skin for granted, is consistently front and center.

  17. David Bradley

    @Toni/Shadid/Cherie – obviously a spammer, but you do make an interesting point, albeit in a rather peculiar version of English.

  18. Melanotan peptides are often used by those who cannot tan. Your preference for outdoor exposure is a luxury many would love to experience…naturally. Those lacking in msh levels and/or affinity are the ones who value the peptide as uv radiation is particularly harmful to them. Enjoyed your article and comments :)

  19. @Chris Why does anyone *need* a tan?