Bronze me up, baby.

Words by

Giulia Brugliera

Oh, the perils of obtaining bronzed skin. Outside of the downright dangerous (ahem, black market solariums), tanning methods can be messy, smelly and patchy.

But to that, scientists have said no more!

After 10 years of research, researchers in the US have come up with a drug to help people tan sans exposure to the sun. 

Applied directly to the skin as a cream, the drug works to stimulate those skin cells that produce pigments that absorb ultra-violet light. The result is bronzed skin, that darkens in proportion to the dosage applied.

So far, it has been used successfully on red-haired mice. Like their human counterparts, red-haired mice are particularly susceptible to harm from UV rays. Yet the formula has successfully allowed these critters to develop a deep tan, without exposure to ultra-violet light.

In good news for us, it’s also been successfully tested on laboratory samples of human skin, with the tan lasting several days.

However, scientists have stressed that further tests are needed to explore the potential side-effects in human beings. How long this may take is unclear. It’s taken over a decade to get to this point, with the original breakthrough in mice reported in 2006. The problem that faced scientists back then was how the formula could penetrate human skin, which is much tougher than mice’s.

"Human skin is a very good barrier and is a formidable penetration challenge. Therefore, other topical approaches just did not work," said one of the authors of the study, David Fisher.

"But 10 years later, we have come up with a solution. It's a different class of compounds, that work by targeting a different enzyme that converges on the same pathway that leads to pigmentation," he said.

The ultimate goal is to develop a formula that also absorbs ultra-violet light.

You can read more about the breakthrough here

Via 9 News.

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