Do Beer Tans Work? And More Importantly, Are They Safe?

As you can probably guess, derms have pretty strong feelings about this trend. First things first: It doesn’t actually work. 

“‘Beer tanning’ is a misconception,” board-certified dermatologist Michelle Henry, M.D., founder of Skin & Aesthetics Surgery of Manhattan, tells mindbodygreen. “The process of tanning occurs due to exposure to UV radiation from the sun, leading to the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for skin color. The notion that beer’s sugars or acids interact with melanin to accelerate tanning is not backed by scientific research.” 

You might recall folks dousing their hair in beer to temporarily lighten their strands (I admit I was one of those eager teenagers). This DIY trick does technically work but for a totally different reason—and, still, it’s not something we would recommend.

“Beer contains alcohol, which acts as a solvent and can help remove some color from the hair strands, resulting in a subtle lightening effect,” Henry explains. But in terms of the pigment in your skin, there’s no reason beer would help enhance your tan. 

It’s also not safe to sunbathe for sport, especially without proper sun protection. Make no mistake: Beer does not shield you against UV rays. “Relying on beer or other unconventional methods for tanning can be both ineffective and risky,” notes Henry, resulting in skin damage, burns, premature aging, and increased risk of skin cancer down the line. 

Beer may even exacerbate irritation, especially for those with sensitive, easily reactive skin. “Ingredients in beer like hops or yeast can lead to skin irritation or allergic reactions upon contact,” Henry adds. 

The bottom line? Skip the beer tans and practice safer sun habits. Your healthy skin will thank you in the long run. 

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