In case you thought you’d heard the end of dumb, dangerous TikTok trends, you thought wrong. The latest trend threatening the health of you, impressionable TikTok users are nasal sprays that will supposedly help you have a glowing, bronzed complexion. Videos were going viral of young influencers using the sprays and promoting them to their followers. Experts have now spoken out against them and TikTok has removed the majority of the videos.
The Dangerous Nasal Spray TikTok Trend
If I were to tell you to snort this nasal spray and you’ll be more tanned, would you believe me? Likely most of the people reading this article will say no. Unfortunately, most of the people reading this article aren’t TikTok’s main demographic. In the long list of dangerous TikTok trends that have existed since the app launched, this is the latest. (1)
Recently several videos went viral of young beauty influencers inhaling nasal sprays that promise to help them look more tan. If taken before lying in the sun, these sprays supposedly help you absorb the sun better without getting burnt. One popular British TikTok beauty influencer shared a video of herself using the sprays. Her comments in the video are, well, quite unbelievable.
“I mean I’d rather die hot than live ugly,” she said in the video. “So if this is going to take 10 years off my life, I don’t care. I don’t want to be old anyway, old people are ugly,”
Many of her followers commented saying that they, too, wanted to try the nasal sprays. The video has since been removed from the platform, however, dozens of other users made videos showing them using the sprays, too.
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Why These Sprays are Problematic
Experts are speaking out and warning about the dangers of these kinds of products. They are reminding TikTok users that nasal sprays are still drugs. All drugs must be approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration. If something is not approved, they should not be using it.
“In the US, all nasal sprays or inhalation solutions are classified as drugs, which means they need to go through a New Drug Application process in order to legally be able to sell in the US,” said cosmetic biochemist Krupa Koestline. (2)
Many of the nasal sprays contain dihydroxy methylchromonyl palmitate. This ingredient, when applied topically to the skin, can help to increase melanin production. The more melanin you have in your skin, the darker color your skin will appear. Though approved for use on the skin, the drug has not been approved for inhalation.
“There’s no proven safety of ingesting [dihydroxy methylchromonyl palmitate] at all,” says dermatologist Dr. Nancy Samolitis. “Whether or not it works, we don’t know. And if they’re telling you you have to go in the sun to make your tan show up, then you’re probably just tanning like normal.”
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Tanning Nasal Sprays Don’t Work
Using these products can cause permanent damage to your nose. For example, these products could cause you to have a permanent post-nasal drip. Sort of like having the after-effects of a cold, forever.
“Nasal use of medications can affect things like one’s sense of smell. They can also potentially be toxic to the cilia of the nose, which allow the nose to move mucus through it normally.” says Dr. Peter Manes, a rhinologist with Yale Medicine.
Other side effects can include nausea, flushing, and increased blood pressure. On top of all of that, they don’t really work. Though it may seem logically that if you absorb something that causes a darkened skin pigment, it will make it to the skin, experts say it doesn’t actually work like that. (3)
“It doesn’t really seem to work that way. It’s kind of like, theoretically, if you take collagen — if you drink it — that’s going to go into your skin. It sounds like it makes sense, but it doesn’t.” said Dr. Samolitis.
So, the long story short is: Don’t use unapproved nasal sprays to try and get a golden glow. You won’t actually get a tan, and you will likely do damage to your nose. Remember, if you lose your ability to smell, you will also lose your ability to taste. Really, who wants to live in a world where you can’t smell or taste delicious food?
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- “I inhale dangerous tanning nasal sprays because I’d rather die hot than live ugly.” NY Post. Andrew Court. February 22, 2022.
- “Surprise! The Tanning Nasal Sprays Going Viral on TikTok Are Not Safe.” Allure. Kirbie Johnson. February 4, 2022.
- “Nasal Tanning Sprays: Don’t Try This Dangerous TikTok Trend, Experts Urge.” Everyday Health. Leah Groth. February 9, 2022.