Can This Little Pill Really Tan Your Skin Without Ever Stepping Foot Outside?

Can This Little Pill Really Tan Your Skin Without Ever Stepping Foot Outside? featured image
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TikTok is swiftly replacing YouTube and Instagram as the way to get recent news and information. Just a year ago, I doubt we would have been saying “I heard about this on TikTok,” as often as we do now. However, if you want to get your skin care and cosmetic treatment questions answered, social media isn’t always the most reputable source. Which is why we are here for the fact check.

For this installment of “Is this TikTok Fact or Fiction?” we explore the fast-spreading rumor about an OTC supplement that tans your skin without ever stepping foot outside. It’s called L-Tyrosine and here’s what we know.

“L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that gets converted in the body to melanin—the pigment making cells in our skin—by an enzyme called tyrosinase,” explains Bay Harbor Islands, FL dermatologist Stacy Chimento, MD. “It can also be converted to another amino acid called phenylalanine which can play a role in improving mood and stress responses.”


So, do they really work? “Unfortunately, this is no more than a TikTok trend,” adds Los Angeles, CA dermatologist Jacquiline Habashy, MD. “There are no studies that support oral L-Tyrosine supplements ability to produce a tan. On the contrary, a study published in the Comprehensive Series in Photosciences states that it ‘did not induce tanning or enhance UVB-induced tanning.’ In addition, a study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology states that tyrosine pills have not been shown to work and that the FDA considers them to be potentially harmful.”

“This is too good to be true!,” adds Miami dermatologist Dr. Deborah Longwill. “There are no reports or scientific proof that L-Tyrosine has the ability to produce a tan. We know that melanin production starts with L-tyrosine but producing a tan actually depends on several other factors.”

Dr. Chimento agrees to proceed with caution as the FDA has not approved it for this indication. “Although some supplements contain additional antioxidants and ingredients that augment the L-Tyrosine response, doctors typically don’t endorse them for this purpose. Two that are popular are Pure Elixir Smart Tan—which contains antioxidants, vitamin A, C, E, B6, lycopene and copper to name a few—and Thorne L-Tyrosine.” 

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