For some people, sitting in the sun under harmful UV rays for hours to get a tan just isn’t the best idea. Between finding the time to tan and having to deal with the damage it does to your skin, tanning under the sun is falling out of fashion. There are alternatives – spray tanning and self-tanners can be extremely effective, but take a bit of skill and practice to get a natural looking tan. This is where tanning pills come in.
Tanning pills are a fairly new product in the market of self-tanning products. The thought behind these tanning pills is that by consuming them over a period of a few weeks, the pills will cause your skin to darken or add pigment to your skin, giving it an artificial tan.
After briefly talking about what tanning pills are, I’m going to go over the absolute best tanning pills you can buy. Then we’ll go in depth about what is inside of most tanning pills, whether they are safe, and any other questions you may have!
If you want to jump ahead, these links will jump you to a few of the popular sections:
How Tanning Pills Work
Tanning pills contain active ingredients called carotenoids, a range of colors from yellows to reds. Canthaxanthin (from carotenoids) is a food coloring additive that is used in the manufacturing of food. It is also known as Food Orange 8, Carophyll Red or Roxanthin Red 10.
The coloring is naturally derived from plants, shellfish, fish, mushrooms and crustaceans. When it comes to food, the colorant is used in BBQ sauce, drinks, dressings, and other products.
Your skin tans when the melanin in your skin darkens under the UV rays of the sun. Tanning pills work differently to this. The Canthaxanthin in the tanning pills is dissolved in the adipose tissue in the skin, beneath the epidermis.
It accumulates in the fatty layer of the skin, and when taken in high doses continuously, this accumulation actually pigments your skin.
If chickens are fed canthaxanthin in their diet, the egg yolks they produce will be more orange. It is the same with your skin. Tanning pills do not cause your skin to darken like a normal tan, instead, it tints your skin adding color.
We’ll talk about this later in the article, but it’s important to know that there are many different types of tanning pills. Some, like the one I talked about above, use Canthaxanthin to color the skin. There are also tan accelerators, that simply increase the amount of melanin we’re able to produce, reducing the time we have to spend in the sun or at a tanning salon.
For the best tanning pills list below, I mention a variety of available pills and vitamins that help with this, and I’ll be sure to differentiate so you know what kind I’m talking about.
Just as a side note though, no matter what self-tanning pill you decide to try, I would honestly suggest getting a quality self-tanning product. This will help you develop a more natural tan and control the color. My favorite self-tanner by far is this one you can pick up on Amazon.
5 Best Tanning Pills
I did my best to review the vast amount of tanning pills on the market for this list. I read reviews, ingredient lists, product descriptions, and scoured the web to fully understand what the best tanning pills available were. I looked back on my own experience and reviews of these products, and in making this list I did my best to factor in:
- Customer reviews
And much more. I did this so you wouldn’t have to! Alright, enough of this, let’s get to those products!
Check it out on Amazon.
This is one of the more classic tanning pills. It contains ingredients such as beta-carotene, astaxanthin, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
The pills have been designed to give a bronze tan, and claim to only need 2 weeks to do so. The beta-carotene is a little less offensive than the harsher chemicals used.
Included in the formula is natural vitamin E and other antioxidants, all which promote healthy skin. The aim of the pills is to give a glowing summer tan, but also maintaining healthy skin, that isn’t damaged by the sun or any other harsh chemical.
As the company puts it:
“Carotenoids are the organic pigments that give plants their color. In humans, carotenoids have been shown to have excellent health benefits but are not often present in the diet inadequate levels. When taking sufficient amounts, they may be stored in the skin giving a healthy, golden bronze glow!”
Overall this is probably one of the better, and certainly one of the most popular, self-tanning pills on the market.
Check it out on Amazon.
Tanamins have created a more natural tanning pill. It doesn’t contain any harsh colorants or pigments that are foreign to the skin. It is made with a blend of 2000mg of L-Tyrosine which is a naturally occurring amino acid that helps increase production of melanin.
This helps the skin darken faster in the sun, letting you avoid the suns UV rays for long periods, but still getting a bronze, natural looking tan.
Like I talked about above, this falls more into the tanning vitamin category, more than a tanning pill. The primary purpose here is to provide your body what it needs to tan quicker and more efficiently in the sun.
The pills also contain 400 IU of vitamin D, 30mg of vitamin E and 20mg of PABA, which helps minimize the occurrence of sunburn. The added vitamins and ingredients help keep the skin healthy during the tanning process.
It’s important to understand that you won’t get a tan with the pill alone, you do have to have some exposure to UV rays in order for a tan to develop. Always take precautions when tanning in the sun or with a tanning bed.
Check it out on Amazon.
These tablets are 100% natural and herbal, so they do not contain any of the harsher chemicals that other tanning pills may contain. The 30 pack of pills contain 5mg of Beta Carotene, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Modified Maize Starch and Magnesium Stearate.
The pills are supposed to help tan your skin with natural ingredients, all without having to step foot into the sun and battle with the skin damage UV rays can cause. The natural ingredients are a big seller for these tanning pills.
I have not tried these myself, but there are people that think they are absolutely fantastic, so you’ll have to try them for yourself!
Check it out on Amazon.
This falls more into the category of a tanning aid supplement, then a true tanning pill. The PuraSun supplement is specifically formulated to prepare your skin to tan faster, more efficiently, and help your tan last longer.
It’s a dermatologist recommended soft gel that you just a few of a day. It only uses natural ingredients such as:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Natural Carotenes
- Borage Oil
- and more.
This is probably my favorite tanning pill on the market, and certainly one of the most popular. I’d encourage you to check out the reviews and answered questions on the Amazon listing to learn all that you need to about this stellar product.
Check it out on Amazon.
MyTan Boost pills help accelerate tanning, instead of adding artificial pigment to the skin. The pills can be used during tanning outdoors or even in a tanning salon. They can be used for pale and tanned skin so either will be affected by the added tanning accelerator.
There are 15 different vitamins and minerals in the tanning pill formulas, with nutrients like copper and L-tyrosine that not only help the body tan faster but also help nourish the skin and keep it healthy.
With these pills, you will still have to spend time in the sun to get a tan, but the process will be much faster. The pills help get a natural bronze tan, instead of orange skin from pigments.
Everything You Need To Know About Tanning Pills
Alright, now that we’ve gone over the absolute best tanning pills you can get on the market today, let’s talk a bit more in-depth about how these pills really work, whether they are safe, and everything else you need to know.
What Are Tanning Pills
Tanning pills were a hit a couple of decades ago; they fell out of fashion and are making a comeback. People don’t have time to sit in the sun for hours to tan. We now have so much more knowledge on how dangerous and harmful the suns UV rays can be for our skin and our overall health, so finding alternatives that allow us to tan and look great while protecting our skin is an absolute win.
Be sure to research the products you want to buy, there are so many fakes on the market that will do much more harm than good. A good product will protect your skin while giving you the color and tone that you want.
Just remember to always take care of your skin before and after tanning, no matter the method or product you use. Exfoliate, moisturize and keep your skin glowing naturally. Healthy skin will hold a tan much better than neglected skin, and you will have the look and feel of a summer goddess.
Don’t spend your time in the sun damaging your skin and wasting the day away; use what science has created to give you an amazing tan and what should be a hassle-free application!
The Different Types of Tanning Pills
Tanning pills containing canthaxanthin and carotenoids have been the most common for ages, but because of their bad rep, there are other tanning pills being introduced into the market.
This is in an attempt to give a safer alternative to the old-fashioned tanning pills, and hopefully giving less of an orange tan, and more a beautifully toned bronze glow that everyone is after.
Trying one of the newer formulations of tanning pills will be much better, the science behind them is more sound and there are more regulations in place today than when the older tanning pills were introduced decades ago.
Carotene – carotene is what makes carrots orange. It is a more natural pigment, so it should theoretically be safer than the harsher chemicals usually used.
Tanning accelerators – These work differently to usual tanning pills. Instead of ‘coloring’ the skin, these pills help accelerate tanning under UV rays. They speed up the production of melanin in the body, which helps darken the skin. The pills contain psoralen, a plant-based additive that increases the skin’s sensitivity to light. They also contain tyrosine, an amino acid the body needs to create melatonin.
There is no perfect tanning pill. The popular canthaxanthin pill might actually not be worth using with the damage they may cause. Carotene is a more natural option, but it will still give you an orange tan.
Tanning accelerators will help you develop a bronzer, more natural tan, but entails you actually having to go into the sun under the harsh UV rays. They also increase your skin sensitivity to light and UV rays, which could also cause bad sunburn and even lasting damage to your skin.
Are Tanning Pills Safe?
To be clear, tanning pills are not FDA approved because of the coloring chemicals they contain. While the FDA approves the use of Canthaxanthin in food manufacturing, the dosage is much higher in tanning pills and is not always safe.
In order to actually see results with tanning pills, you have to consume them continuously for at least 2 weeks. This means you will be ingesting really high doses of the added colorants and other ingredients.
These high doses are nowhere near natural, and can have quite an effect on your body, not just by giving you a tan. Some people want a darker tan than others, so they continue to use the tanning pills for longer.
The problem with this is that the Canthaxanthin and other ingredients accumulate in your body, this accumulation is the only way a tan actually appears, but this build up can interfere with normal bodily functions, and it can take quite some time to clear out of the body.
While moderation is always key to ensuring the safety of products such as tanning pills, the only way to achieve effective results is to over-consume the product, so it is difficult to keep a moderate intake when there won’t be any results this way.
What Do Tanning Pills Contain?
There are different tanning pills on the market, but the most popular tanning pill used is the one containing canthaxanthin or carotene. These are the pigments that cause the skin to actually turn orange or tan, but tanning pills do contain other ingredients as well.
Vitamin D: Fat solubles that we usually get from the sun and our diet. Vitamin D helps promote bone health, calcium absorption and supports immune function.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E works to prevent heart disease, inflammation, and eye health.
Copper: This helps the body to form red blood cells, it promotes healthy bones, blood vessels, nerves, and a strong immune system.
L-tyrosine: This additive improves mental alertness and performance and memory skills.
PABA: 4-aminobenzoic acid is a member of the Vitamin B complex, it helps skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
What Are The Possible Side Effects of Tanning Pills?
The pigments in tanning pills, once in your body, accumulate under your skin. It’s an unnatural chemical that is not usually found in the body so this accumulation of the pills can have an effect on your body, from slight conditions to more serious.
The least serious of side effects is the color it can turn your skin. Using tanning pills, your tan will not be a beautiful bronze, as the melanin is not involved at all.
The yellow and red pigments can actually turn your skin quite orange. The accumulation can leave you looking like an Oompa Loompa, which is not the look most people go for.
The palms and soles of the feet can also turn more orange than the rest of your body – not the natural summer tan you were looking for. This orange tinge can take over 2 weeks to leave your body, so it isn’t as simple as scrubbing off a self-tanning product.
The pigments and other ingredients can also cause dry and itchy skin. You are playing with the chemicals and structure of your skin so this can cause irritation, which results in red, itchy or dry skin. The chemicals might also cause some gastrointestinal upset, as your body might not be able to handle them or process them naturally.
The chemical pigments and other additives can cause some negative side-effects on your body. Some people who consumed tanning pills for extended periods of time suffered from canthaxanthin retinopathy, a condition where the pigments from the tanning pills build up in the retina of the eye and form little crystals. This can cause irritation and pain in the eye, and can even do some permanent damage. These crystals are usually yellow or orange, due to the color of the pigments.
Other serious side effects that could be caused by tanning pills:
- Permanent liver damage
- Aplastic amnesia
There have been many proven side-effects from the extended use of tanning pills. Some people find it has no effect on them at all, but others find that the use of this product causes them more harm than good, and often it is damage that needs medical attention to try and rectify. You won’t know what effect tanning pills will have on you until you try, but that is a decision you need to make beforehand.
What Are My Other Tanning Options?
If you are unsure about whether or not to use tanning pills, or if you are new to the tanning scene and maybe want to start out smaller, there are other options that are more superficial. Instead of adding pigments and chemicals into your body, these are some of the less-invasive options to choose from. None of them are permanent and all have their own pros and cons.
Self-tanner – Many people swear by self-tanner. It might take some time to find the product and application that works for you, but there is such a range of options on the market. There are tanning lotions, tanning mousse, tanning wipes, and even self-tanning sprays. They can sometimes be difficult to apply; there is a lot of prep that goes into it as well.
Preparing your skin for the application is important, as self-tanning lotions work by reacting with the dead cells on your skin. Too many of these dead cells and you will have darker patches. Also, too dark a self-tanner and it may look false. Self-tanners, when done right, are an easy way to get a tan for a short time.
Spray tan– Spray tans are usually done by professionals in tanning salons. You go to the salon, let them know the tone you want and then strip down to the bare minimum. The spray tan will then be sprayed evenly over your whole body, ensuring there are no darker patches or streaky areas.
Spray tans can become expensive, and some people just don’t have the time to make salon appointments often. However, the tan you get from a professionally done spray tan is usually even, and natural looking. You know it is a quality product and you won’t have to worry about the application for yourself.
Are Tanning Pills Right For Me?
Just like any other beauty product, tanning applicators and self-tanners are very personal to the user. You know your body best, and if you research the ingredients, possible side-effects and realities of different products, you should be able to know if it is the right product to use.
Regarding tanning pills, it is much better to go for natural ingredients. The old school tanning pills that contained pigments and food coloring often messed with your natural biology too much and this could cause some serious side-effects.
For many, this risk wasn’t worth it and that is why they fell out of fashion a bit. Now you can still enjoy the results of tanning pills, but with less harsh and less offensive chemicals and ingredients.
Many tanning pills now also contain ingredients and vitamins that help keep the skin healthy, which not only help prevent any further damage, but it also helps your tan look better as well. There are pros and cons to everything, it is just up to you to work out what you are willing to try or not.
The thing we need to remember is that tanning pills are still fairly new to the market. With time, better, more effective, and safer pills will come out. We’ll also have much more research to help us understand how these types of pills can affect our health in the long run.
So although some tanning pills on the market are better than others, there isn’t a perfect product out there. Be sure to do your own research to figure out what products are best suited for your needs.
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