Beer Tanning TikTok Trend Should Stay in 2023

Last summer, videos of people dousing their bodies in beer in hopes of getting a better tan circulated on TikTok, and it’s a trend experts are hoping stays in the rear-view mirror.

Summer is just around the corner, and that means many of us are about to be spending a lot more time in the sun — but you probably shouldn’t do so while covered head-to-toe in beer, even if TikTok tells you to.

That may sound obvious, but it wasn’t to the many social media users who participated in a trend that involved pouring a bottle of beer on themselves during the summer of 2023. The idea was that hops, an ingredient in beer, can activate the melanin in your skin and help it get even darker under the light of the sun.

The jury’s out on whether that’s true, but that’s beside the point. Experts say the trend, which may or may not return to your 'For You' page this summer, is flat-out dangerous.

@imracim 30 views expected 😂☀️☀️ #sunbathinghack #sunbathing #tanhacks #sun #beach #sunnybeach #bulgarie #dz #algerian #bulgaria #summer #goodvibes ♬ Sunny Day - Ted Fresco

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearly states that “there is no such thing as a safe tan.” Robert B. Den, M.D., a radiation oncologist at Jefferson University Hospital and the chief medical officer at Alpha Tau Medical, says he’d have to agree.

The dangers of beer tanning

“The concern here is that while this may be a popular trend, those who try it out are exposing their skin to the potential negative effects of the sun if they’re spending time in it without adequate protection,” Den tells Healthnews.

Beer aside, any sun exposure without protection increases the risk for both benign and cancerous growth, Den explains. The sun’s UV rays can damage the DNA in skin cells and, over time, cause these cells to grow out of control — leading to cancer. These effects typically aren’t immediate but instead accumulate over time.

And while those with lighter skin do face an increased risk of developing skin cancer compared to those with darker skin, evidence suggests that tanning greatly increases everyone’s risk of developing skin cancer.

“Contrary to popular belief, getting a tan will not protect your skin from sunburn or other skin damage,” the FDA says. “The extra melanin in tanned skin provides a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of about 2 to 4; far below the minimum recommended SPF of 15.”

Plus, if you are wearing sunscreen while trying this trend, it’s likely that the beer may rinse off whatever protection you have on your skin.

And while cancer is a long term risk, short term risks are also a concern. Den says he often sees patients who severely damage their skin while tanning, causing burns of varying degrees. These burns can heal, but for some patients, they may not. And for those who are concerned about looking younger, sun exposure causes an increase in wrinkles over time.

That’s not to say that all sun exposure is bad. Balance is key, and taking active steps to increase your likelihood of getting a tan — including using beer — isn’t good for your health.

Still, some sun exposure can be beneficial when it comes to getting enough vitamin D and improving our ability to absorb calcium into the bones, Den says.

Therefore, the recommendation is not to completely avoid sun exposure altogether but to take appropriate measures to protect your skin whenever you are in the sun, including wearing sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses.

And, in case it wasn’t already clear: definitely don’t listen to TikTokers who tell you to take a beer shower on the hottest day of the year.

“Overall people must research any mainstream or alternative health remedies,” Den says. “There’s an influx of information in today’s world and we must do our due diligence as to whether or not the remedy or suggestion you are applying is safe. You should always run questions by your healthcare provider.”

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