It’s hard to believe this needs to be said, but injectable self-tanner is not a trend, and anyone who says otherwise is as uninformed as “human Ken doll” Jimmy Featherstone.
The headline-grabber has made headlines again after Featherstone admitted to injecting illegal melanin-based substances to boost his tan. But the 22-year-old from Hull, East Yorkshire, may be “killing himself” with the stuff, experts have said.
Featherstone, who is also a tanning-bed regular, first started using the injectable at age 18. Appearing on the British talk show “This Morning,” he recalled the two days he spent bedridden after launching the dangerous tanning regimen five years prior.
The unverified products work by introducing an artificial hormone that “trigger[s] your pigment cells” to produce melanin in the skin, promoting a darker complexion. Celebrity doctor Sara Kayat, a general practitioner with the UK’s National Health System, warned that the self-tanner could be causing “significant harm” as research to prove its safety is lacking.
As Kayat pointed out during the program, the hormone-disrupting drug may also contain potentially harmful ingredients not advertised on the label, noting that the side effects of the untested product are unknown.
“These injections are illegal in the UK,” she said. “It means they are completely unregulated. Which means that, firstly, they have no safety or effectiveness or quality ratings with them. We don’t know the potential side effects could be to your body.”
But the tan-boosters are easy enough to procure. “You can just buy them online,” said Featherstone during his Monday morning interview. “You get them within two to three days and they come in little pots, and you do it every day.”
“I was in bed for about two days,” he said of the first time he tried it. “I was really poorly, I was really hot and sick. I still do it now and I feel I’m used to what the liquid does to my body.”
Despite the risks, Featherstone said he can’t imagine his life untanned.
“I feel it makes me better once I’ve got a tan. I don’t leave the house without a tan,” he explained. “It makes me feel good about myself. Some people won’t leave the house without makeup. I won’t leave without a tan.”
In response to Sayat’s point that there are “no safety or effectiveness or quality ratings” to validate the product, Featherstone argued that “the outcome for me, they do work.”
She retorted, “There are lots of things that work in this world but that are doing you damage. Essentially, you could be potentially be killing yourself for a tan.”
Featherstone has subsisted in cosmetic infamy as it was reported earlier this year that he’d spent some $14,000 on procedures — including lip fillers, cheek implants and veneers — to look more like his “fantastic plastic” inspiration Ken, a k a Barbie’s boyfriend.
“I want to look more plastic — that’s the aesthetic I like,” he told South West News Service in May.