Picture it: Vicky sneaks away from her family, furtively locks herself in the bathroom, rolls up her shirt, and injects her stomach with an illegal compound.

Sounds like she's a drug addict, right? Wrong; well, kinda.

Vicky is an addict, but it's not the high she's seeking
– it's the perfect tan.

As we reported last week, the new tanning drug of choice is an injectible form of the hormone Melanotan, which increases melanin production in the skin. Melanin is a dark, protective pigment that increases after sun exposure. After 10 days of injecting Melanotan, users enjoy a warm, golden tan.

Women are getting Melanotan at gyms, from beauty professionals and online – in the UK the drug is legal to buy, but illegal to sell. While the UK press has reported most profusely on Melanotan, it's gaining popularity - and the attention of government watchdogs - in the US and Australia, where it's also being developed and/or marketed as an appetite suppressant, a rosacea treatment and a sexual stimulant.

But the the danger lies here: Melanotan has not undergone regulatory testing in the US, the UK or Australia to assess it's long-term side effects.

The Best Self Tanners

    #12
    Victoria's Secret Bare Bronze Collection Daily Glow Moisturizer, $16, victoriassecret.com

    You'll love it because...
    It builds color slowly and smells amazing!

    Rachel Been, AOL

    #11
    Aveeno Continuous Radiance Moisturizing Lotion, $13, www.target.com

    You'll love it because...
    You mix the shade which means you won't have to buy a new bottle as your tan builds.

    Rachel Been, AOL

    #10
    DuWop Revolotion SPF 15, $28, www.sephora.com

    You'll love it because...
    It protects against UV rays, free radicals and soothes skin irritation all while providing golden color.

    Rachel Been, AOL

    #9
    Hawaiian Tropic Island Radiance Self Tanner, Medium/Dark, $9, www.drugstore.com

    You'll love it because...
    The clear gel formula guarantees you'll never ruin another white t-shirt in the pursuit of the perfect tan.

    Rachel Been, AOL

    #8
    Joico Skin Luxe Golden Shimmer Gradual Self-Tanner, $16, www.joico.com

    You'll love it because...
    The ultra moisturizing formula (a blend of botanicals, Aloe Vera, Safflower Oil and Olive Oil) will leave your skin feeling as amazing as it looks.

    Rachel Been, AOL

    #7
    Mary Kay Subtle Tanning Lotion, $14, www.marykay.com

    You'll love it because...
    It comes in both shimmer and matte options so you can customize your tan.

    Rachel Been, AOL

    #6
    Banana Boat Summer Color, Self-Tanning Mist, Fresh Citrus Fragrance, $9, www.drugstore.com

    You'll love it because...
    The even, spray on application makes tanning hard to reach areas like your back a total breeze.

    Rachel Been, AOL

    #5
    Lancaster Easy Bronze Milky Spray SPF6, $27, www.skinstore.com

    You'll love it because...
    Europe's #1 selling suncare line is finally available in the US!

    Rachel Been, AOL

    #4
    Model Co Tan Airbrush in a Can, $28, www.sephora.com

    You'll love it because...
    The results are immediate. This spray on gives you a golden shimmer instantly and then the last tan builds over the next few hours.

    Rachel Been, AOL

    #3
    L'Oreal Sunless Sublime Glow Daily Moisturizer in Medium Skin Tones, $10, www.drugstore.com

    You'll love it because...
    You can use this as your daily moisturizer and watch your tan slowly appear.

    Rachel Been, AOL


Since Melanotan activates melanocytes in the skin, it has the potential to cause cancer, as melanocytes are the cells that become cancerous in malignant melanoma. In short, Melanotan may be tricking the body into thinking it's getting more sun exposure than it actually is, which is NOT a good thing.

And there are short term side effects too: They include depression, suppressed appetite, nausea, high blood pressure, facial flushing and panic attacks. But according to a recent article in The Daily Mail, despite these dire warnings women are continuing to use the drug.

"But I feel fine using these jabs. I want to look my best at parties in strappy evening dresses and these tanning jabs give me the best colour I've ever had," says Vicky. "Far from doing me any harm, in these dark, wintry days, seeing myself glowing with health has given me a fantastic boost."

Spoken like a true addict.