A man said carotenoid supplements gave him tan skin — but there are safer, easier ways to get a glow up
- TikTok creator Carter Gottlieb went viral for saying he got tan using carotenoid supplements.
- Carotenoid supplements include beta carotene and lycopene — but we don't know if they're safe.
In October, a TikTok creator went viral for sharing how he got tanned, glowing skin without going into the sun.
"I live like a vampire and I don't look like paste," said Carter Gottlieb in a recent video that's been viewed over 3 million times. Gottlieb said the secret behind his glow is taking carotenoid supplements.
"I got into them not for the color necessarily, but for the protective effects," Gottleib, a medical and doctoral student at Saint Louis University told Insider. In his video, Gottleib cited research that theorizes that carotenoid supplements may help protect the skin against some sun damage."Then people started noticing the color that it added to my skin," Gottleib said.
While it's true that ingesting carotenoid supplements may alter skin color, it might also be risky for your health, said Dr. Homer Black, professor emeritus in the department of dermatology at Baylor University.
Carotenoids give fruits and vegetables their color
Carotenoids are pigments that give fruits, vegetables, and algae their color. They also function as antioxidants, and may help delay cell damage.
Earlier this year, another TikTok creator went viral for saying she got a "natural fake tan" by eating three large carrots a day — a skin condition actually called carotenemia, and caused by excess beta carotene consumption.
Gottleib said he tried beta carotene supplements, but found that they gave his skin "a very strange color."
Instead, Gottleib takes the carotenoids lycopene and astaxanthin, which have a red pigment that Gottleib feels gives him a more natural looking glow.
Lycopene is also found naturally in many different kinds of fruits and vegetables, most notably tomatoes. Astaxanthin is derived from a species of freshwater algae.
The science on carotenoid supplements is still murky
Although taking carotenoid supplements may change skin color, Black told Insider that he wouldn't recommend it. There's not enough scientific evidence that taking these supplements is safe.
Some carotenoids have been linked to serious health issues. Beta carotene supplements in particular have been linked with higher instances of lung cancer in those who smoke or who have been exposed to asbestos, according to the Mayo Clinic.
"Beta carotene is an important food nutrient," Black said. But, "I would not recommend throwing in a large level of beta carotene that would change your skin color, because I think that probably the risk for adverse effects are too great."
For other supplements like lycopene, Black said, "the jury is still out," on safety — so it's best not to risk it.
If you still want to get a glow, try using an FDA-approved self-tanning product like a lotion or spray, that coats the outer layer of your skin.
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