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Why Redheads Should Not Take Those “Tanning Pills” All Over TikTok

It could be dangerous and hopefully this is a lesson to not believe everything you see on social media

Natural Tanner

You can’t believe everything you hear or see online, but sometimes things can make you wonder. We recently came across a TikTok video talking about a supplement called “astaxanthin”. The video is by Beverly Hills-based plastic surgeon Dr. Daniel Barrett. In the video, Barrett goes on to talk about how this supplement could be a “natural tanner” and also a form of “internal sunblock”. Astaxanthin is simply a powerful antioxidant found in certain seafood and algae and has potential benefits such as a “natural sunblock” and may help to improve skin health. While some research suggests that it may provide some level of protection against UV radiation and help with skin health, it’s not a substitute for traditional sunblock or sunscreen. Redheads, who are often more susceptible to sunburn due to their fair skin, should continue to use sunscreen and take other sun protection measures. 

But, let’s do some more digging to find out why some doctor’s, like Dr. Barrett, are recommending this supplement: 

What is astaxanthin? 

According to, “Astaxanthin is a red pigment that belongs to a group of chemicals called carotenoids. It occurs in certain algae and causes the pink-red color in salmon.” Additionally, “astaxanthin is an antioxidant. This effect might protect cells from damage. Astaxanthin might also improve the way the immune system functions.”

Does it really “naturally tan”?

First, let’s discuss the idea of this supplement being a natural tanner. We’ve heard this before with things like carrots that are high in beta-carotene. While ingesting a large amount of carrots (or just taking a large amount of beta-carotene supplements) may impact the hue of your skin — at what cost? We know from the carrot tan trend that you would have to eat a ton of carrots to see any sort of change, and unless you have a Vitamin A deficiency, it’s not recommended. Similarly, you would need to take an abundance of astaxanthin to see any difference in your skin tone, and it may have an unhealthy impact on you in other ways. 

According to Dr. Hartman, a board-certified dermatologist interviewed for an article by Allure back in January, taking astaxanthin, or other similar “darkening” supplements could actually put you at higher risk for skin cancer. Dr. Hartman explains that “astaxanthin really could make your skin darker, but not in a protective way like having melanin. If you have the pigment naturally, then you are [more] protected from skin cancer. This is giving you the fake version, and it’s making you more likely to develop melanoma.” For redheads, although your skin may appear darker when taking these supplements, you’re still at a very high risk of skin cancer. Supplements like astaxanthin, and lycopene (another supposed “natural tanner”) may interfere with other medications or even lead to stomach or liver issues. 

Is it really a natural sunblock?

Now what about the idea that astaxanthin is an “internal sunblock”? This comes from the fact that it’s an antioxidant, which can help to reduce damage caused by UV rays. While this is beneficial for our bodies, and it’s good to have antioxidants in our diets, it’s not the same as wearing sunscreen. Everyone, especially redheads, should wear an SPF 30+ and re-apply every 2 hours, or as directed. 

Remember, don’t take everything you hear online at face value, because while technically what Dr. Barrett is saying is not true, and it’s a lot more complicated. Redheads need a lot more information than provided in this short video:



Fake Tan Alternative #faketan #faketanroutine #faketantips #faketanhack

♬ original sound – Dr Daniel Barrett

DISCLAIMER: Consulting with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement is always a good idea.

Rock it like a Redhead! 


READ: Why Redheads Should Never Use Tanning Beds Or Attempt A “Real” Tan

READ: Ask a Redhead: Feeling Pressured To Tan And How To Embrace Your Skin