Tanning Via Injection
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - "I actually own a tanning bed but I don't have time to lay," says Rock Hill, S.C. resident Jennifer Tran. Two weeks ago, she started getting injections of Melanotan II, a product that claims to tan your skin without harmful UV rays.
The tiny vial contains about 12 injections. Tran purchased it for about $75 from Leyla Bahmanyar. She's been selling Melanotan II for about a month. She says she has about a dozen customers. "I fully believe in the product, I mean, like I said, there are risks and everyone has to sign waivers," she says.
The risks, Bahmanyar says, include headaches and nausea. Melanotan II is also not FDA approved. In fact, in 2007, the FDA issued a warning letter to a firm in Tennessee that sold the product and another warning letter in 2009 to a firm in Ohio.
The FDA tells FOX Charlotte that it's current position on Melanotan II is that of an "open investigation."
Bahmanyar says she tells all interested customers to do their own research before purchasing the injections. For her, the lack of FDA approval is worth risking, not only to avoid sun exposure but also to increase self esteem. She says, "It has literally changed the way I look at myself, to be honest. It is a confidence booster to be honest."
As for Tran, after she achieves her desired level of tan, she'll do a weekly maintenance injection. The busy mom says, "This is just more time efficient for me. I don't have 20 minutes to lay in a tanning bed every day."
The websites that sell the drug say it's "for research only." It works by stimulating the body's natural pigmentation process. It's also been tested for use in men with erectile dysfunction.