Gone are the days when sun-seekers need to spend countless hours in the scorching sunlight or in tanning beds to achieve the coveted golden glow. Nowadays, even those with type I skin can acquire a darker skin tone by the use of self-tanners. Of course, the “glow” acquired by these self-tanners is faux and not protective against UV light. It also can turn into a weekly messy hassle can that sometimes result in uneven, orange-looking skin.
If you read my previous article on self-tanners: Do Self-Tanners Age Skin? , you would also know that the DHA and erythrulose in self-tanners significantly exacerbate the damaging effects of UV light. Unless you plan to live as a vampire or spend extra money on high antioxidant-containing self-tanners and judiciously apply sunscreen daily (and even then some UV light will reach skin), self-tanners will lead to accelerated skin aging.
Fortunately, it was recently discovered that a combination of acetyl tyrosine and Chasteberry extract can be used to increase melanin content in the skin. (1) Unlike temporarily staining the skin with an orange-hued dye, which conventional self-tanners do, the tan achieved is a truly natural sunless tan. It is worth stating that the tanning effects from acetyl tyrosine and Chasteberry extract alone were barely perceptible on human skin after 1 month of use (2x per day), but more visible tanning effects can be seen around the 6-8 week mark. From there, with continued daily use, the skin can be expected to gradually continue to darken and darken.
Enter Melitane, chemically known as acetyl hexapeptide-1, a biomimetic peptide of our natural hormone α-MSH (α-Melanocyte-stimulating hormone). Applied topically, this peptide can also help produce a sunless natural tan by mimicking the biological tanning response. If you have used any kind of tanning accelerator or any type of suncare products, you may have seen Melitane or acetyl-hexapeptide-1 listed among the ingredients. The problems are that it may be added at less than ideal concentrations; it is rarely combined with acetyl tyrosine and chasteberry extract; and worst of all, it is almost always in a product containing preservatives that, along the lines of DHA and erythrulose, boosts free radicals produced by UV light (e.g., methylparaben (2)).
With the inspiration from discontented pale friends, I have developed a completely natural (melanin-derived) self-tanning product combining acetyl hexapeptide-1, acetyl tyrosine, and chasteberry with a paraben-free (and formaldehyde-free) preservative. With that said, this product won’t be ideal for someone looking to go from ivory to a deep bronze in a few weeks. The days when we can transform porcelain skin to Sub-Saharan skin without the need for any UV exposure might be as much as 10 years into the future, if certain methods can be proven safe (Lookin’ at you, SIK-inhibitors … (3)).
Until then, we can gradually darken the skin-tone independent of UV exposure. For purchase, see my product Sunless Tanner + Tanning Accelerator (with Melitane!) on:
*Although I do not recommend tanning, this product may also be used in conjunction with UV exposure to increase the tanning response.
- Schmid D, Belser E, Zulli F. Self-tanning based on stimulation of melanin biosynthesis. Cosmetics and toiletries. 2007;122(7):55-62.
- Handa O, Kokura S, Adachi S, et al. Methylparaben potentiates UV-induced damage of skin keratinocytes. Toxicology. 2006 Oct 3;227(1):62-72.
- Mujahid N, Liang Y, Murakami R, et al. A UV-Independent Topical Small-Molecule Approach for Melanin Production in Human Skin. Cell Reports. 2017 Jun 13;19(11):2177-84.