You Can Use Coca-Cola as a Self-Tanner … But Should You?


Coca-Cola is one of those multifunctional products people seem to use a billion different ways. Some use it to clean toilet bowls or fertilize flowers, while others use it as a marinade ingredient. Some just drink it.

Recently, people have started using the classic soft drink in a very unconventional, not to mention potentially unsafe, manner: They are dousing their skin in the effervescent beverage and using it as a self-tanner. Yes, really.

No one knows for certain when this bizarre beauty trend started, but back in July of 2016 two reality stars from MTV’s “Geordie Shore” (basically the other side of the pond’s version of “Jersey Shore”) brought attention to it. And apparently it works in helping achieve that beautiful, bronze look that so many people desire during the summer months. Even Allure has endorsed the tanning abilities of the sable soft drink, explaining that “the soda contains a caramel dye, which when applied to the skin can give it that coveted, characteristically bronzed tone.”

So basically you’re rubbing caramel dye into your skin to make it look like a tan. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that it’s not very good for you. While it can speed up your tanning time, it obviously doesn’t boast any SPF, and the chemicals in it can seriously damage your skin. “Applying it to the skin may lead to a temporary darkening or staining of the skin, but because sodas are acidic, it may exfoliate dead cells, enhancing the ability of UV light to penetrate into the skin,” director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City Joshua Zeichner told Allure. “Ultimately, this may increase your risk of a sunburn.”

Here’s the skinny about suntans: Unless it comes from a bottle of self-tanner (and even those have several drawbacks), there’s no such thing as a healthy tan — for the time being at least. A group of scientists recently announced that they are likely three to five years away from finalizing a UV-free way to darken the skin’s pigment. So far their research has been deemed successful with mice, but the compound they have formulated hasn’t been tested on human skin. But even if all goes well and this wonder tanner ends up on the shelf of your local drugstore, it still won’t replace the need for sun protection, which is ultimately what prevents skin damage and cancer.

So whether you are lathering your body with Coca-Cola ( which we don’t recommend) of self-tanner, if you are planning on exposing your skin to the sun, don’t forget to apply a reasonably high SPF. It can save your skin and, possibly, your life.

What Do YOU Think?

Have you ever used Coca-Cola as self-tanner? Would you try it? What other unconventional tanning methods have you tried?