You’ll Cringe at the Wacky Way People Are Now Using Coca-Cola

It's been used in cakes, as a marinade, and a headache cure. Now there's a new trend in the United States that involves Coca Cola—and it's not what you think.

You-Won't-Believe-the-Wacky-Way-People-Are-Using-Coca-Cola-6204462a-Wilfredo-LeeAPREXShutterstockWilfredo Lee/APREX/Shutterstock

People are now using Coca-Cola to tan themselves. That’s right, Coca-Cola as a self tanner. And according to Food and Wine, it’s not the first time it’s been done. However, that doesn’t mean it’s exactly OK or healthy.

So here’s what you need to know: Joshua Zeichner, MD, the director of cosmetic and clinical research of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital explains that Coca-Cola will work as a skin dye because, “Coca-Cola contains a caramel dye that may directly stain the skin to give a darker appearance.” But just because it can tan your skin, doesn’t mean you should use it to tan your skin. “It’s also acidic, and by exfoliating dead cells from the skin’s surface, you increase how quickly you will tan or sunburn when exposed to the sun.” Which, of course, ups your risk of skin cancer.

Dr. Zeichner says that there is no safe way to tan in the sun. ‘The risks of a sunburn, in terms of developing future skin cancers and premature skin aging, outweigh the benefit of a tanned appearance,’ he said. Dr. Zeichner’s best advice? “Protect yourself from the sun now because it is the best way to prevent skin cancer in the future. Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30, and reapply every two hours or directly after getting out of the water or heavy sweating.”

Avoid the sun during peak hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m, sit in the shade, under a tree or an umbrella, and wear sun protective clothes, hats, and sunglasses. And if you’re still craving a tan Dr. Zeichner recommends self-tanning lotions. “These contain an ingredient called DHA which reacts with sugars in the skin to create a temporary staining that gives the skin a tanned appearance.’

So the next time you grab a Coke, maybe just drink it. (Or maybe not, because soda is bad for your insides, too.)

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