TikTok rogues exploit Barbie to sell illegal nasal sprays linked to skin cancer

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TikTok rogues exploit Barbie to sell illegal nasal sprays linked to skin cancer
TikTok rogues exploit Barbie to sell illegal nasal sprays linked to skin cancer

TikTok rogues are cashing in on the Barbie movie to flog illegal nasal sprays that give you a tan.

Aimed squarely at youngsters, the bottles come in pink packaging emblazoned with pictures of dolls and a logo copied from the smash-hit film. They contain banned chemical melanotan II – linked to skin cancer, kidney disease, erectile problems, and side effects like nausea and anxiety.

Snorted or injected, the artificial hormone tricks the body into producing the pigment that darkens skin. Because they are unregulated, the sprays could include other dodgy chemicals. But cowboys are pushing them hard on social media – with special offers and time-limited deals, typically charging £25 for a 20mg bottle.

TikTok rogues exploit Barbie to sell illegal nasal sprays linked to skin cancer eideziqkeiqhhinvAn example of the product being marketed to youngsters
TikTok rogues exploit Barbie to sell illegal nasal sprays linked to skin cancerChelsea Jones had a melanoma on her arm after she used similar nasal tanners

Our reporter ordered the stuff from three TikTok sellers – @Supasuppsuk, @Melanin_MagicTanning and @tropicbarbiex – and they came by next-day delivery, no questions asked. All three arrived in sparkly pink packaging and one even had complimentary sweets.

Last night skin cancer victims, medical experts and charities spoke out against the products and urged tan addicts to stay away. Gillian Nuttall, of Melanoma UK, said: “This is everything that is bad about social media. TikTok is mainly used by kids, so for a business to be selling illegal, untested products to youngsters and using the success of a cinema hit to do so is shameful.”

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TikTok rogues exploit Barbie to sell illegal nasal sprays linked to skin cancerMargot Robbie plays the title character in the movie which was released last month (© 2022 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved)

One 23-year-old woman, from Manchester, told how she was left in agony after operations for tumours on her arm and leg after using similar nasal tanners.

Chelsea Jones – not her real name – said: “I was in a hospital where people are fighting for life and all because I wanted a tan – it was very scary. People, including myself, overlook the risks in order to live up to a beauty standard, but neither sunbeds or nasal tanners are safe. It’s not worth the risk.”

Melanoma cases have hit an all-time high this year with numbers likely to rocket 50% in the next 20 years. Cancer Research UK says there are 17,500 new diagnoses every year.

Dr Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist, said: “Because melanotan II is being distributed illegally, it is not regulated and monitored by the usual stringent medical regulations. The concern is that if you overstimulate melanocytes, particularly in someone who has an underlying tendency to skin cancer, you could increase the risk of melanoma developing. In addition, melanotan II often goes with other risky sun-seeking behaviour such as sunbed usage.”

TikTok rogues exploit Barbie to sell illegal nasal sprays linked to skin cancerOne advert describes the spray as 'a sprinkle of mystery'
TikTok rogues exploit Barbie to sell illegal nasal sprays linked to skin cancerAnother advert calls the £30 price - for a set of products - 'an absolute bargain'

Barbie has smashed box office records, with sales set to top a billion dollars. In the film, the plastic doll comes to life in the form of Margot Robbie who teams up with her beau Ken, played by Ryan Gosling. Margot and the producers were approached for comment, but there is no suggestion they are linked to the sale of these items. TikTok declined to comment but suspended all three sellers’ accounts for violating community guidelines after our approach.

The sellers were asked for comment and all confirmed the products – which are not endorsed by trademark holders Mattel – contained melanotan II. One, @tropicbarbiex, said: “I hope you get a nice tan while you’re writing your article.”

Labour MP Judith Cummins, who co-chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Beauty and Wellbeing, said: “It is so important that people are aware of the serious health risks of nasal tanning sprays that contain melanotan II.

“The Government must crack down on these opportunistic sellers who are seemingly getting away with it without consequence.”

Saskia Rowlands

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