Beachgoers Are Using Coca-Cola as Self-Tanner, Which Is a Really Bad Idea

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

Who would have thought that a thoughtless fad spread by reality television stars would turn out to be so … oh, what’s the word, dumb?

Once a technique utilized by Geordie Shore stars Sophie Kasaei and Holly Hagan, people are swapping out tanning oils for Coca-Cola, spreading the beverage on their bodies before hitting the beach. The soda’s caramel dye is thought to help give skin a bronze shine.

But according to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, a deeper tan isn’t worth the health risks caused by coating oneself in the sugary brown liquid before lying under the sun.

“While some feel that Coca-Cola can speed up your tan, it actually can be dangerous, and I recommend staying away from it,” Dr. Zeichner told Allure. “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 penetrate into the skin. Ultimately, this may increase your risk of a sun burn.”

Which, in turn, can increase the risk of skin cancer.

“There is no safe way to tan, except if it comes from a bottle,” Dr. Zeichner said.

So put the Coke can down, take a much-needed bath, and go back to good old-fashioned SPF 30.