Barbie Drug: What Is The ‘Holiday Tan In A Bottle’ About?

Posted by Julian Perreira on

By Julian Perreira - Founder Jak Brew Co.

You’ve probably heard of a spray tan or sunbed, but have you ever heard about the spray tan that users are snorting up their noses?

Nicknamed the ‘Barbie Drug’ – an illegal nasal spray that has got thousands of Brits hooked, ditching their summer getaways and replacing them with this instead.  

Melanotan 2, otherwise known as the Barbie Drug - is a synthetic drug that works in a similar way to the natural hormone found in our bodies which increases the production of skin-darkening pigments in our skin.

The tanning spray containing the illegal drug is usually sold in 10ml refillable bottles – the same type of bottles which hay fever sufferers use to control their allergies.

Melanotan 2 is now commonly used across parts of the country by tanning addicts. It is also being used as a sex performance drug for men suffering with erectile dysfunction.

It is currently only illegal to sell within the UK – but that hasn’t stopped Brits purchasing the spray to get a fake tan as a replacement for their cancelled Ibiza weekender due to Covid-19 restrictions.

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There has been a crackdown on online selling within the UK – Although it is still widely available, being sold openly on many social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram.

Those supplying these nasal pump sprays are purchasing huge quantities of the ingredients from Europe and China in wholesale, then re-selling them on illegally at hugely inflated prices.

With a single bottle costing up to £25 - £30 and include instructions encouraging users to squirt two doses into their nasal passage twice daily.

Users are then told that for best results you should ‘get onto a sunbed or outside to soak up UV rays for amazing results’ and to ‘tan like a superstar’.

Some sellers are even promoting the drug as a quick way to lose weight, suggesting that it can help users reduce their appetite and shed the pounds.

The online sellers also say that it should be used ‘continuously every day, for best results’ and even reporting that the change in skin tone will last for months after their last use.

Some Melonotan 2 users have now switched from previously injecting the unregulated drug under the surface of the skin, to now sniffing doses of the stuff into their nasal cavity – some considering it to be safer.

Is snorting Melanotan 2 ‘Barbie Drug’ spray safe?

Negative side effects reported by users of the spray tan drug have included long-lasting severe migraines, dizziness, heart palpitations, nausea, vomiting and fluctuations in sex drive - in males it can also cause spontaneous erections.

The longer-term side effects are still unknown.

Under UK Law it is currently only illegal to supply the drug, purchasing the drug is not considered illegal.

After three months of closure for tanning shops in the UK and the height of the summer holiday season, it is thought there will be a huge increase in the number of individuals choosing to use it for their first time and they should be aware of the risks involved.

For up to date guidance please visit the British Skin Foundation for more information on how to protect your skin.

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