While many desire a tanned appearance, there are some notable drawbacks to traditional tanning practices. Aside from the time required under the sun or in tanning beds, excessive UV exposure can present health concerns such as skin damage, visible aging effects, and the risk of melanoma.
Several synthetic tanning methods have undergone clinical review in recent years to address these concerns. One of the most promising is injectable melanotan, a synthetic peptide that stimulates melanogenesis, increasing tanning effects while reducing the need for UV exposure.
Here, we will explore the key points of this innovative tanning method, including its potential benefits, side effects, safety profile, and legal status. Plus, we will reveal where to source the highest-quality peptides for your research on tanning injections.
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What are Tanning Injections?
Injectable tanning agents are of interest to the scientific community as alternatives to typical tanning methods, such as extended sun exposure and artificial tanning beds. Research has shown that the subcutaneous injection of melanotan, a synthetic melanotropic peptide, can synergistically boost skin tanning in combination with minimal UV exposure.
The benefits of tanning injections include not only darkened skin with reduced sun exposure but potential photoprotective effects due to increased melanin production. Tanning injections are typically administered alongside scheduled tanning sessions to achieve the desired therapeutic outcome [1, 2].
Melanotan’s tanning effects are achieved through its analogous behavior to the body’s endogenous melanogenic hormone, which upregulates the production of melanin in the skin. As a relatively recent development, melanotan has yet to undergo review by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for commercial availability as a tanning agent.
Therefore, tanning injections to date are reserved for clinical settings and handling by qualified researchers. Clinical findings indicate the peptide's further potential in numerous additional therapeutic contexts .
Read on to learn more about melanotan, including its proven effectiveness as a tanning agent, as well as its range of possible benefits when injected. We will also detail the best practices for handling this promising peptide, as well as its current legal status.
What is Melanotan?
Melanotan is a research peptide developed as a synthetic analog of the neuropeptide alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH), a melanocortin agonist that regulates several important biological processes. These include melanin synthesis, immune function, and sexual response. Melanotan is 1000% more potent than its parent hormone [3, 4].
There are two types of melanotan, known as melanotan 1 (MT-I) and melanotan 2 (MT-II), which differ in their chemical structures and therapeutic effects. While both have been studied as tanning agents, they exhibit different levels of activity on the melanocortin system. This has led to some overlap and divergence in physiological outcomes of MT-I and MT-II injections in clinical trials .
For tanning purposes, melanotan injections are typically dosed according to the six-tiered Fitzpatrick scale of skin tone, ranked numerically according to UV sensitivity and phenotype. Fairer and more sensitive skin types tend to require higher doses and exhibit more dramatic tanning results in response to melanotan injections [1, 5].
Because it is a recent clinical development, there is currently no data on the long-term effects of melanotan administration. Both types of melanotan may have mild transient side effects, linked primarily with misuse and low-quality peptides. For both safety and efficacy, researchers are advised to source melanotan from strictly reputable providers and adhere to standard clinical guidelines .
Melanotan 1 vs Melanotan 2
Melanotan 1 and 2 are both classed as synthetic a-MSH analogs, acting upon the body’s melanocortin receptors to elicit various effects. While both have been shown to stimulate melanogenesis, they do so to differing degrees and with unique additional effects.
Before handling melanotan, researchers should be advised of the following differences between the two types of melanogenic peptides.
Melanotan 1 and 2 have different chemical structures.
- Melanotan 1 ([Nle4-D-Phe7]-α-MSH), like α-MSH, is a linear tridecapeptide. The 13 amino acid chain is a slightly modified analog of its parent hormone, with only two altered amino acids.
- In contrast, melanotan 2 (Ac-Nle-[Asp-His-D-Phe-Arg-Trp-Lys]- α-MSH-NH2) is a cyclic heptapeptide, composed of a lactic ring. It is a more highly modified analog of its parent hormone.
Due to their distinct structures, melanotan 1 and 2 have different physiological functions.
- Melanotan 1 interacts primarily with melanocortin receptor 1, which controls melanogenesis.
- Melanotan 2 interacts with melanocortin receptors 1, 3, and 4, which regulate melanogenesis as well as sexual and metabolic processes.
Although they are both melanogenic agents, melanotan 1 and 2 have been further studied for their therapeutic potential in distinct clinical applications.
- Melanotan 1 is primarily used as a synthetic tanning agent and photoprotective treatment. Possible benefits also include neuroprotection, anti-inflammatory effects, and enhanced cardiovascular health.
- Melanotan 2 is also used as a synthetic tanning agent. Additionally, it shows therapeutic potential in treating erectile dysfunction, obesity, and some behavioral disorders.
Additional points of difference include side effects, as melanotan 2 is linked with more numerous and severe adverse reactions. Dosages also differ, with lower therapeutic doses of melanotan 2 noted. Lastly, their clinical research and development have historically diverged. While melanotan 1 has been approved by the FDA as a treatment for erythropoietic protoporphyria, melanotan 2 has not received regulatory approval to date [1, 8, 9].
Benefits of Melanotan
Both melanotan 1 and 2 have shown numerous benefits in clinical trials. Here, we will explore the main benefits of each.
Melanotan 1 stimulates melanocortin receptor 1 to boost melanin synthesis in response to UV light for a rapid tanning effect. It also has photoprotective benefits, reducing sun damage to the skin [1, 2, 3].
Cognitive benefits and neuroprotection
Research indicates that melanotan 1 may combat mood disorders in photodynamic therapy cancer patients. Some animal studies also show its potential to mitigate the effects of Alzheimer's disease and stroke [10, 11].
Treatment of photosensitivity disorders
Due to its photoprotective benefits, melanotan 1 is marketed to treat erythropoietic protoporphyria. Ongoing research shows its potential to treat additional acute dermatoses, including xeroderma pigmentosum, solar dermatitis, and polymorphic light eruption [3, 12, 13].
Further potential benefits of melanotan 1 include the treatment of acne and inflammatory diseases, as well as enhanced sexual function, body composition, and cardiovascular health [2, 14, 15, 16, 17].
Treatment for addiction and behavioral disorders
Several animal studies have shown that melanotan 2 may mitigate impulsive and addictive behaviors through its interaction with melanocortin receptor 4. It may also upregulate oxytocin to counter autistic behaviors [20, 21].
Melanotan 2 has been evidenced to diminish the appetite and alter food preferences through its stimulation of melanocortin receptor 4. It is linked with decreased fat and sugar consumption in animal subjects, exhibiting potential as a treatment for obesity .
Treatment for metabolic disease
As an agonist of melanocortin receptors 3 and 4, melanotan 2 is evidenced to regulate blood glucose levels, indicating its potential to treat metabolic disease .
Body fat reduction
Melanotan 2 has been shown in animal studies to regulate energy expenditure and fat storage, reducing adiposity and lending it further potential to treat obesity .
Side Effects of Melanotan
Due to its fairly recent development, there is currently no available data on the long-term secondary effects of melanotan administration.
The most frequently observed transient adverse effects of melanotan 1 in clinical trials include :
- Facial flushing
- Melanocytic nevus
- Irritation at the site of administration
Clinical findings have also shown several potential side effects of melanotan 2 injections.
For example, a two-week trial involving daily subcutaneous injections of MT-II (0.01mg/kg) in three healthy male subjects resulted in the following transient side effects :
- Spontaneous erections
MT-II injection has also been linked in clinical trials to the emergence of new or darkened naevi (moles). Researchers have additionally observed the following :
- Nail pigmentation
- Facial flushing
- Taste changes
- Patchy skin pigmentation
More acute side effects are rare, including :
- Heart palpitations
- Abdominal pain
Specialists advise against the use of melanotan in subjects with body dysmorphic disorder, especially regarding skin tone. Undesirable side effects typically subside with the termination of use and are linked with variables such as contaminated or low-grade peptides, drug interactions, the use of tanning beds, and comorbidities.
To mitigate the risk of side effects, handlers should source melanotan from trusted vendors .
Do Melanotan Injections Actually Work?
Since its clinical development in the 1980s as a sunless tanning agent, melanotan has been the subject of numerous peer-reviewed studies that support its tanning effects. It is most effective when administered in combination with regular exposure to UV light. In addition to tanning effects, melanotan injections have also been shown to significantly decrease the incidence of sunburn in susceptible individuals [1, 2, 28].
The safety and effectiveness of tanning injections in clinical settings are largely dependent on adherence to certain dosage guidelines and schedules. The recommended therapeutic dosage is subject to change according to the subject’s skin type as defined by the six-tier Fitzpatrick scale.
In this schema, skin type 1 is the fairest and most likely to burn, while type 6 is the darkest and tans easily without burning. The most dramatic visual effects are seen in skin types 1-3, which also tend to require larger doses .
The particular guidelines for effectively handling melanotan 1 are as follows :
- 1mg per day is the baseline therapeutic dose for subcutaneous injection.
- It is recommended to begin with a low dose and incrementally increase.
- In clinical trials, subjects have received daily injections ranging from 0.08 mg/kg to 0.16 mg/kg for four consecutive weeks.
- To optimize tanning effects, MT-I administration is combined with regularly scheduled exposure to UV light.
- 500mcg per day is the baseline therapeutic dosage for subcutaneous injections of melanotan 2.
- It is recommended to begin at a low dose and increase slowly.
- In clinical trials, the daily dose has not exceeded 1 mg/kg.
- Administration schedules vary from one to several weeks. MT-II is not recommended for indefinite use.
- For optimal tanning, MT-II is typically administered before scheduled sessions of UV exposure. Tanning windows do not surpass 60 minutes.
- Research has indicated that it is best to adhere to a cycling dosage schedule, alternating between loading and maintenance phases.
For the proper injection of melanotan, researchers must have the following materials:
- Vial of lyophilized MT-I or MT-II
- Vial of bacteriostatic water
- Sterile syringe
- Alcohol wipes
Injecting melanotan requires adherence to the proper method of reconstitution, as follows:
- Sterilize all materials with alcohol wipes to reduce the risk of contamination.
- Insert the syringe into the vial of bacteriostatic water and withdraw the desired amount.
- Slowly introduce the solvent into the vial of melanotan powder so that it gradually dissolves.
- Do not stir or shake the vial, as this can compromise the solution. It will appear clear when it is fully reconstituted.
- Excess solutions can be refrigerated for subsequent use.
Are Tanning Injections Safe?
Melanotan injections for tanning have a favorable safety profile when handled by qualified researchers. However, data on long-term effects are lacking due to the peptide’s novel status .
When administered according to clinical guidelines, melanotan injections present relatively few and minor potential side effects that often subside with discontinuation of use. More hazardous side effects are associated with several factors that require caution. Researchers are advised to be mindful of the following potential risk factors that have been observed in clinical studies to date [2, 30, 31]:
While there are no known fatalities due to melanotan, daily MT-2 injections over 1mg have been linked to acute side effects, such as priapism requiring medical intervention, rhabdomyolysis, and systemic toxicity. The severity of adverse effects is proportional to the dose.
Melanotan injections have not been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, pending further study. Unfortunately, this has led to the illicit sale of unregulated products that are mislabeled as melanotan. Some of these contain harmful contaminants that can lead to systemic toxicity when injected. This can be avoided by sourcing all peptides from reputable providers.
Signs of vendor legitimacy include certificates of third-party analysis to verify peptide purity as well as relevant disclaimers against misuse.
Incorrect administration procedure
Failure to comply with the guidelines for proper subcutaneous and intramuscular injections can lead to contamination and infection. Researchers must have access to sterile, high-quality supplies and adhere to standard methods of reconstitution, injection, and storage.
Research indicates several other case-specific risk factors, such as dangerous drug interactions, the use of tanning beds, and pre-existing medical conditions.
Tanning injections are considered safe in clinical research contexts. Handlers should maintain caution to avoid excessive use, contaminants, and other potential risk factors. This requires familiarization with all pertinent literature and best practices before incorporating melanotan into active experiments. Further, researchers are advised to keep abreast of emerging studies, especially on the long-term effects of melanotan injections.
Are Melanotan Injections Legal?
As an uncontrolled and non-prescription substance, melanotan is typically legal to buy, sell, and handle for educational research conducted by qualified individuals. In the United States, the marketing of melanotan to the public as a medicinal product is unlawful due to its lack of approval by the US Food and Drug Administration [2, 32, 33].
This has led to illicit online sales of unregulated products labeled as melanotan, many of which have been linked to harmful side effects. Sellers often make unsubstantiated claims as to the benefits that consumers will enjoy, presenting these dangerous substances as lawful and authentic.
Considered an unauthorized medical product in the US and many other countries, melanotan is illegal for commercial sale outside of laboratory settings. Unlawful sellers are subject to relevant sanctions, and buyers of illicit substances risk not only inefficacy but dangerous side effects.
Qualified researchers in most countries, however, can legally obtain and handle melanotan for injection in educational contexts. To ensure both the quality and legality of the peptide source, there are several marks of legitimacy that researchers should look out for. These include the following [2, 34]:
- The vendor should clearly state that the peptides are sold for research purposes only and to be handled by qualified individuals.
- Product literature should make no direct claims or guarantees as to the benefits of melanotan injections.
- Due to a lack of quality assurance regulations, peptide vendors must adequately display third-party lab test results to establish purity.
The legal status of melanotan is subject to change, pending further clinical analysis and approval by regulating bodies. Researchers are advised to stay up to date on emerging pharmaceutical developments and remain vigilant to avoid illicit marketers of low-grade peptides.
When properly handled in a laboratory setting for educational experimentation, melanotan injections are perfectly legal and present a dynamic field of emerging study.
Where to Buy Melanotan Online? | 2022 Guide
Given the importance of purchasing melanotan from a legitimate source, this guide would not be complete without naming the most reputable online vendor of high-grade research peptides.
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- Shipping is fast, affordable, and worldwide. Large domestic orders within the US are eligible for free 3-day shipping, and international shipments to select locations arrive in just 7-10 business days.
- Checkout is easy, safe, and quick on the vendor’s sleek website, secured with SSL encryption. Most forms of payment are conveniently accepted.
- Customer service is unmatched, as clients receive great care from attentive agents. Email queries are answered within just 24 hours in alignment with the company’s total commitment to client satisfaction.
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Bacteriostatic Water for Injection
For successful research of Melanotan, handlers need to be equipped with various essential materials.
Whether reconstituting, injecting, or storing, all phases of peptide research require the right tools, such as bacteriostatic water, needles, and sterile vials.
Researchers may find it challenging to source all of the necessary supplies, many searching the web for long hours and inconveniently buying from several retailers.
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Another excellent option is the premium research kit, complete with:
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Tanning Injections | What You MUST Know
Melanotan injections have been shown in clinical studies to effectively enhance skin tanning while reducing sunburn and the need for UV exposure.
Both melanotan 1 and melanotan 2 are potent melanogenic agents, and each shows therapeutic potential in unique additional contexts. Researchers are advised to keep in mind the differences between these two types of melanotan, from their observed benefits, recommended dosages, and possible side effects.
Although some concern has been raised as to the safety, efficacy, and legality of tanning injections, this in-depth review has established the legitimacy of melanotan for injection when properly sourced and handled. Tanning injections present great promise as agents of both aesthetic enhancement and photoprotection in subjects that are prone to skin disease.
With the information provided here, you are ready to safely incorporate melanotan injections into your work.
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