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Melanotan 2

Updated on September 17, 2012

Would you inject yourself to get a good tan?


What is Melanotan 2

Melanotan 2, or Melanotan II, is a tanning injection which is currently traded over the internet mainly, but also in other places such as tanning salons and gyms. No government of any country has yet to approve the products due to a current lack of evidence that they are safe. It is therefore illegal in many countries such as the United Kingdom.

How does Melanotan 2 work?

Melanotan 2 is a synthetic version of the natural protein found in the body called α- melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) which causes melanogenesis. This is when the skin's pigment cells produce the pigment melanin, which causes the skin to darken. So melanotan 2 artificially stimulates the body's skin to darken in the way that sunlight would normally do.

Originally researchers were trying to discover a way to reduce skin damage which can lead to skin cancer by creating a drug that makes the body tan without needing to be exposed to sunlight. This would be very useful for some people, such as those who are extremely photosensitive.

The researchers arrived at Melanotan 2 having first experimented with other hormones and peptides, creating Melanotan I along the way. This version is also illegal currently in most countries.

Better to Inject yourself or sun bathe safely?


What is the difference between Melanotan 1 and Melanotan 2?

Melanotan 1 and 2 are both synthetic versions of the α- melanocyte stimulating hormone, initially created at the University of Arizona cancer research center. The main chemical difference is that Melanotan 1 is a full peptide containing all 13 amino acids, whereas Melanotan 2 is a shortened version, and much less like the natural hormone produces by the body.

Melanotan is being developed primarily to treat rare skin conditions. Melanotan is being developed as a tanning product.

In terms of effects and side effects, while both versions have similar possible side effects, Melanotan 2 is also known to cause an increase in libido, and spontaneous erections.

Because of this effect of Melanotan 2, the company Palatin technologies started to develop a version of Melanotan 2 called bremelanotide to use as a treatment for sexual dysfunction.

Does Melanotan 2 work?

Melanotan 2 has been found to increase tanning in some clinical trials, so in essence, yes it does work in the way it is intended to. It has also been found to help with erectile dysfunction.

Would you use Melanotan?

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Why is Melanotan 2 still illegal, and who says so?

Melanotan 2 is still illegal because it has not gone through enough strict tests for safety and effectiveness that all drugs and medicines must go through to be passed as safe for human use. Until any medication has gone through these tests, then any company selling a version of them is doing so illegally. In many countries, the governments have issued warnings to websites selling Melanotan or demanded that they take the websites down.

In the United States, the US Food and Drug Administration has warned people not to buy and use Melanotan or Melanotan 2.

In the United Kingdom, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory agency has equally warned people to stay away from any form of Melanotan. The National Health Service website, along with the Cancer Research UK website both warn of the risks of Melanotan and advise people not to use it.

Yet people still continue to purchase Melanotan and take the risks for the sake of a good tan.

Nausea - all in the name of a good tan


What are the side effects of Melanotan 2?

The initial side effects of Melanotan 2:

The initial side effects are usually found to occur during the period of time following injections and are reported to usually disappear after several hours. Some of the skin related side effects will last much longer though.

  • The British Medical Journal published a report in 2009 that Melanotan 2 can lead to a change in the size and shape of moles.
  • Nausea
  • Flushing of the face
  • decreased appetite
  • Headaches
  • Lethargy
  • Feeling light-headed or dizzy
  • Increase in Libido
  • Spontaneous erections
  • New birthmarks appearing, and white spots showing up
  • Change in visibility of freckles

Long-term effects of Melanotan 2:

The long-term side effects of Melanotan 2 are still unknown. This is because Melanotan has not been approved by world governments, and so it has not been possible to scientifically study the long-term effects in large groups of people. People who have used it over the last 5 years or more have generally not reported any serious side effects according to many websites and forums. However, it is of almost no value to accept what people report individually because they are unable to compare their rates of illness or health problems with other people in the way that a proper research study would do.

Some researchers warn people not to use Melanotan because they do not yet know if it can cause serious skin problems in the future.

How sure are you about injecting?


Problems with self-injecting Melanotan 2:

There are always risks with using needles to inject yourself. This could include:

  • Risk of contracting diseases such as HIV or Hepatitis if sharing a needle
  • Risk of infection from using a non-sterile syringe
  • Risk of skin reaction to the injection site

Bear in mind that to maintain the tan you want, you would have to be injecting yourself once a week.

Problems with the purity and advertising claims of Melanotan 2 bought from the internet:

Since Melanotan 2 is illegal, it is generally bought over the internet. As with many products sold over the internet, particularly those in powder form like Melanotan 2, there is the risk it is not pure and is mixed with something else, or worse still is not Melanotan 2 at all.

There is also the potential problem that because Melanotan 1 has had more clinical trials than Melanotan 2, some websites sell Melanotan 2 based on the good results of Melanotan 1 research studies. Some advertisers also claim it can help prevent skin cancer. Again though, there is no evidence for this. So do not be fooled by clever online advertising!

Australian news report and warning not to use Melanotan


Put simply, you are taking serious risks by using an unapproved drug. Particularly one that has been met with strong warnings from so many countries. Furthermore you are taking even more risks by using needles, by taking a drug that acts on the hormonal system, and by buying it from potentially untrustworthy sources on the internet. So do yourself a favor and stay away from Melanotan 2 until the scientists have declared it safe.


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    • Ethan Green profile image

      Ethan Green 4 years ago from England

      I agree - the natural way is far better!

    • Bedbugabscond profile image

      Melody Trent 4 years ago from United States

      I am of those people who stay out of the sun. I have let myself get a little more than I usually do. It is so interesting that this drug is being used to help tanning, where its cousin treats cancer. Still, I don't like needles so I think I will just keep doing it the natural way. That is, when I am not wearing loads of sun screen.