The Truth About Tan Jabs


In the last several years, there has been an increase in research and media attention surrounding the harmful consequences of sun exposure and tanning beds. The upside to this has been greater awareness of skin cancer risks, and greater emphasis on skin care, leading many tanning enthusiasts to embrace sunless tanning options like spray tans and tanning lotions. The downside has been the adoption of newer, potentially harmful tanning solutions such as "Tan Jabs" to make up the difference.

What are Tan Jabs?

Tan jabs, in the simplest terms, are tanning injections or tanning supplements. Human trials of tan jabs began in 2006, but still haven't gained federal approval, and thus their sale and distribution is illegal. Even so, Melanotan or the "Barbie drug," as WIRED magazine dubbed tan jabs in a 2006 article, is being sold and distributed online, in tanning salons and at the gym. According to WIRED, Melanotan can aptly be called the Barbie drug for its ability to induce a fake tan, while supposedly boosting sexual drive and possibly encouraging weight loss, all at once.

How do Tan Jabs Work?

Utilizing two synthetic versions of the hormone melanocyte, Melanotan I and Melanotan II injections have both undergone some clinical trials, but neither has been approved by the FDA or any other regulatory system. While each of these synthetic hormones are rumored to increase the production of melanin in skin, Melanotan II is the type that purportedly affects libido and increases sexual arousal. Due to this additional effect, Melanotan II is also being studied as a medication for sexual dysfunction, in addition to a tanning treatment. The Melanotan II hormone is said to induce weight loss by pinpointing appetite-suppressing receptors to diminish patients' food cravings. These same receptors are popularly targeted in many of today's weight-loss drugs.

Apparently, patients receive the Melanotan, a peptide, in powder form to avoid degradation. The powder is then mixed with a prepared bacteriostatic water and injected with a syringe daily. On average, injection dosages range from 0.25mg-1mg, administered once or twice a day. Dosage amounts can vary based on a patient's weight, and whether a patient is using Melanotan I or II. Typically, Melanotan II injections are used at lower dosages than Melanotan I because there is a greater instance of side effects with II.

Why Health Care Professionals are Warning Against Tan Jabs

For one thing, it's always smart to be wary of medications or treatments that haven't received approval from the FDA or other health regulatory systems; especially those treatments that are injected or orally ingested. In 2007, the FDA reported sending a Warning Letter to the company's owner for illegally marketing and selling the drug on their website. They also issued a consumer warning about Melanotan II, stating that:

  • Claims being made cause the product to be classified as both a drug and a new drug, under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
  • However, the product does not have an approved new drug application.
  • There is no evidence that the product is generally recognized as safe and effective for its labeled uses.
  • Product's introduction and delivery into interstate commerce violates federal law.
  • Risks run by patients who use unapproved new drugs could include adverse side effects from inappropriately prescribed medications, dangerous drug interactions, and harm from contaminated, counterfeit or outdated drugs.

Other websites about tan jabs have cited these possible side effects for both Melanotan I and Melanotan II:

  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • White patches
  • Facial flushing
  • Itching
  • Appearance or darkening of new moles

Additional side effects specific to Melanotan II are uncontrollable sexual arousal and possible anaphylactic shock. Even if certain side effects aren't guaranteed, there's a lot that can go wrong during the drug's administration. The drug's lack of federal approval has required it to be marketed over the internet and administered by inexperienced, uninformed individuals at their own discretion and accountability. That means the odds for error are much greater than if the drug was legal and widely administered by cosmetic professionals.


The appeal to simultaneously get tan, lose weight and increase our libido is a very attractive prospect. However, there's nothing worth sacrificing our personal health and well-being for. The Barbie drug may work as it claims to, but just remember that it's illegal for a reason. Perhaps with time, increased clinical trials, and alterations to the formula, Melanotan will be resubmitted for FDA approval and attain it in the U.S. Until that time, we suggest you lose weight the old-fashioned way (exercise and a healthy diet), get your tan from a bottle or with spray tanning, and increase your libido by increasing your quality of life, or looking into approved drugs for sexual dysfunction.

Related Articles

Acne Treatment All-Stars: Epiduo vs Proactiv Solution
AngelLift DermaStrips Review
At-Home Laser Wrinkle Removal
At-Home Product Review: Dermaflage Topical Dermal Filler
Avita ReCell: Product Review
Beauty Beware: History’s 4 Most Dangerous Cosmetics
Best Facial Cleansing Cloths
Boscia Luminizing Black Mask: Product Review
Brazilian Peel Review: At-Home Skin Rejuvenation
Bremenn Research Labs Hylexin: Product Review
Choosing the Right Sunscreen for You
Clarisonic Opal Sonic Infusion System: Product Review
Cle De Peau Beaute Releasing World’s Most Expensive Skin Cream
Clinique 7 Day Scrub Cream Rinse-Off Formula: Review
Dangers of Skin Lightening Creams
Derma Smart: Clothes for Dry Skin?
Dermadoctor MED e TATE: Product Review
Dr. Zein Obagi’s OZ Skin Health Review
ELASTIderm Décolletage System: Best of the Bust
Eyelash Extensions: LATISSE vs Xtreme Lashes
FDA Approves Epiduo Acne Treatment
From Lotions to Butter: Knowing Your Moisturizers
Kojic Acid and Skin Brightners Review
Levia Review: At-Home Psoriasis Treatment
Lumie Clear Review: Light Therapy for Acne
Lumixyl: Skin Brightening Breakthrough?
Macho Makeup: Top 5 Makeup Products for Men
Microskin Technology Offers Hope for Rosacea, Vitiligo Sufferers
Neem Oil: Nixing Oily Skin & Acne
New TRIA Blue Light Device Targets Acne
Newa Review: At-Home Skin Rejuvenation and Wrinkle Treatment
No7 Protect and Perfect: The Secret to Skin Perfection?
NuFACE Review: At-Home Electronic Skin Rejuvenator
PaloVia Review: FDA Approves At Home Wrinkle Removal Laser
Philosophy The Microdelivery Peel Pads: Product Review
Product Review: Biore Ultra Deep Cleansing Pore Strips
Product Review: DDF Revolve 400x Micro-Polishing System
Review: HylaSponge System from 3Rx Skin Therapy
Revitol Cellulite Solution Review
Review: Claro IPL Acne Clearing Device
Review: Proactiv Dark Spot Corrector
Rodan & Fields Anti-Age AMP MD: Product Review
Sephora Collection Extractor With Lance: Product Review
St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse: Product Review
Stretch Mark Cream Review: Strivectin-SD
Tanda Skin Rejuvenation Review: At-Home Systems Earns FDA Approval
10 Best Skincare Products Under $10
Top 5 Non-Surgical Facelift Creams
Top 5 Over-the-Counter Acne Treatments
Top 5 Pore Reducing Products
Top 5 Stretch Mark Removal Creams
Top 10 Acne Treatments of 2009
Top 10 Cosmetic Products for 2010
Top 10 Home Beauty Devices for 2011
Top 10 Makeup Removers
Top Ten Male Skin Care Products
Top 10 Organic Skin Care Product Lines
Top 10 Self Tanning Products
Top 10 Vegan Skin Care Products
Tri-Luma® Cream for Melasma
TRIA: Is At-Home Laser Hair Removal Right for Me?
The Truth About Stretch Mark Creams
The Truth About Tan Jabs
What Is Your Make-up Doing to Your Skin?: Choosing the Best Cosmetics