Melanotan 2 is a synthetic peptide hormone that stimulates melanin production in the body, leading to increased pigmentation and a deep tan. Often referred to as a “tanning peptide,” Melanotan 2 allows people to tan more easily under low UV exposure. While some tout Melanotan 2 for its cosmetic effects and as a lifestyle drug, potential side effects have raised safety concerns.

In this guide, we’ll explore how Melanotan 2 works, its documented effects and uses, benefits vs. risks, sourcing considerations, and what to know before trying this tanning and body enhancement peptide. Understanding the science behind Melanotan 2 is important for weighing the pros and cons of use.

We’ll review the available research on Melanotan 2 and also examine the anecdotal experiences shared online. Our goal is to provide an unbiased look at Melanotan 2 to help you make educated decisions about products like Melanotan 2. Always consult a doctor before using any peptide.

What is Melanotan 2?

Melanotan 2 is a synthetic analog of a hormone called α-melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH) that stimulates production of melanin in skin and hair follicles [1]. Melanin is the pigment that colors skin and protects it from UV radiation.

Melanotan 2 was developed at the University of Arizona in the 1980s during research on developing peptides to treat skin cancer. While it did not prove beneficial for that purpose, researchers noticed it led to increased tanning and melanin production [2].

Compared to the related peptide Melanotan I, Melanotan 2 is a smaller compound with enhanced bioavailability and greater binding affinity to the melanocortin receptors involved in pigmentation and arousal pathways [3].

Due to its ability to stimulate melanogenesis and darken skin pigmentation, Melanotan 2 has gained popularity in bodybuilding, tanning, and cosmetic circles as a “tanning peptide” or “tanning injections.” However, Melanotan 2 is still an experimental drug not approved for medical use.

Unregulated use of Melanotan 2 raises safety concerns, as peptides synthesized in underground labs rather than by licensed pharmaceutical companies carry risks of contamination and inconsistent dosing.

Benefits of Using Melanotan 2 for Tanning

Melanotan 2 has gained traction as a tanning agent due to the following effects:

  • Faster, darker tan - By stimulating melanin production, Melanotan 2 can lead to an accelerated, deeper tan compared to natural sun exposure alone [4].
  • Lowers UV exposure needed - Some research indicates Melanotan allows tanning with as little as 25-50% of the UV exposure normally required [5].
  • Long-lasting tan - The increased melanin triggered by Melanotan 2 results in a tan that lasts weeks to months with continued use.
  • Photoprotective effects - By promoting darker pigment, Melanotan 2 may help protect skin from sun damage and burning [6]. However, UV protection should still be used.
  • Enhanced libido - Melanotan 2 also activates pathways involved in sexual arousal, leading to increased libido in some users [7].
  • Appetite suppression - Studies show reduced appetite and food intake in animals treated with Melanotan 2 [8]. Anecdotal reports suggest it may aid weight loss.

However, despite these effects, Melanotan 2 has not been proven safe or effective for routine use. Ongoing research is still needed on its long-term impacts. Responsible usage is imperative.

Potential Risks and Side Effects of Melanotan 2

While Melanotan 2's ability to stimulate tanning and melanin production may sound appealing, there are also safety concerns to consider:

  • Moles and dark spots - Increased melanin, especially in concentrated areas, can lead to new moles or dark freckles and spots on the skin [9].
  • Nausea - Nausea is a common side effect, especially at the start of treatment, as melanocortin receptors also exist in the brainstem [10].
  • Headaches - Frequent headaches are commonly reported with Melanotan 2 use. The exact mechanism is unknown.
  • Priapism risk - Due to the effects on arousal pathways, prolonged and painful erections (priapism) have been reported [11].
  • Facial flushing - Redness and flushing of the face is another common reaction, likely due to melanocortin receptors in blood vessels [12].
  • Hyperpigmentation - Increased tanning may lead to uneven skin tone and dark patches on the face, joints, or injections sites [13].
  • Melanoma concerns - Some limited research suggests Melanotan may potentially promote melanoma progression by increasing melanin [14]. However, more studies are needed.

Responsible usage following medical guidance is advised given the limited data on long-term safety and toxicity. Improperly sourced peptides also raise health risks.

What to Know Before Buying Melanotan 2 Online

Melanotan 2 is still an experimental peptide hormone not approved for sale. However, it is available from some online peptide vendors and clinics. If obtaining Melanotan 2, keep these tips in mind:

  • Vet the supplier - Only buy from reputable sources that provide third-party testing and quality manufacturing. Check safety certifications.
  • Follow injection guidelines - Use sterile techniques, insulin syringes, and proper rotation of injection sites subcutaneously.
  • Refrigerate - Melanotan 2 must be kept refrigerated in temperatures between 2° to 8°C. Do not freeze.
  • Start low - Begin with a low dose and gradually increase under medical supervision if desired effects are not seen.
  • Watch for side effects - Discontinue use if any adverse reactions occur and consult a doctor.
  • Cycle properly - Experts recommend cycling 6-12 weeks on, 4 weeks off to avoid desensitization.
  • Expect some delay - It can take a few weeks of consistent dosing to notice tanning effects. Be patient.
  • Avoid counterfeits - Only use pharmacy-grade products from reputable suppliers. Beware underdosed or contaminated products.

Always consult a physician before using Melanotan 2 or any similar unapproved peptide. Improper use risks health and safety.

While Melanotan 2 is still an experimental drug not formally approved for sale, some choose to buy Melanotan 2 online through peptide specialty sites and compounding pharmacies. If planning to obtain Melanotan 2, it's essential to thoroughly vet any supplier, only use properly manufactured pharmacy-grade products, follow medical guidance on dosing and administration, and monitor closely for side effects. However, given the unknown long-term safety risks, consulting with a doctor on whether Melanotan 2 is appropriate for your individual situation is strongly advised before making a purchase. While tempting for some, the uncertainties require carefully weighing if the purported benefits outweigh the potential dangers. Responsible considerations around quality, safety, and personal factors should guide any decision to buy melanotan.

Stacking Melanotan 2 for Enhanced Tanning Effects

Some people explore stacking, or combining Melanotan 2 with other peptides or drugs to enhance its effects. Two potential stacking options include:

  • With α-MSH - Stacking Melanotan 2 with the peptide α-MSH provides synergistic stimulation of melanocortin receptors for amplified tanning [15].
  • With Afamelanotide - This synthetic peptide approved in Europe also activates melanogenesis. Early research found stacking increased pigmentation vs either drug alone [16].

  • Unknown long-term impacts - No safety data exists on the long-term effects of mixing Melanotan 2 with other drugs.
  • Increased side effects - Stacking compounds may intensify side effects like nausea, headaches, and blood pressure changes.
  • Higher toxicity risks - Potential for toxic effects from drug interactions is unknown.

Given the lack of data on safety, stacking Melanotan 2 with other compounds is not recommended. Combination use should only be attempted under strict medical supervision due to amplified risks.

The Bottom Line: Is Melanotan 2 Right for You?

When weighing the potential benefits versus the risks and unknowns, the decision of whether Melanotan 2 is right for you comes down to:

Possible Benefits

  • Accelerated, darker tanning response
  • Lower UV exposure needed
  • Increased libido and sexual arousal
  • Appetite suppression and weight loss

Potential Risks

  • Skin darkening, moles, and melanomas
  • Nausea, vomiting, headaches
  • Priapism and uncontrolled erections
  • Facial flushing
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Lack of long-term safety data

Key Considerations

  • Thoroughly research product quality and supplier reputation
  • Follow medical advice and instructions precisely
  • Start low dose, increase slowly, moderate dosage
  • Do not stack with other drugs or peptides
  • Cycle properly and take breaks to reduce tolerance

The bottom line is Melanotan 2 provides an unnatural solution to sunless tanning that carries uncertain risks requiring moderation and medical oversight. More long-term studies are still needed. Weigh the benefits and drawbacks carefully before deciding if Melanotan 2 is appropriate for your situation.


Melanotan 2 is an experimental peptide hormone still undergoing research and development. While early studies and anecdotal use suggest Melanotan 2 can darken skin pigmentation and aid tanning under low UV light, it also carries potential side effects and long-term risks that require further understanding.

Responsible use requires thorough vetting of product sources, following medical guidance, using sterile injection techniques, watching closely for adverse reactions, cycling properly, and avoiding unsafe stacking. Although some seek Melanotan 2 for its cosmetic effects, each individual must carefully weigh the potential benefits and risks before use.

Always consult doctors knowledgeable in peptides before acquiring and administering compounds like Melanotan 2 that remain in scientific testing. While tempting for some, unknown variables surrounding Melanotan 2 mean extra precaution is warranted. Ongoing research in coming years will further clarify if Melanotan 2 has a viable place in medicine.

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is Melanotan 2?

Melanotan 2 is a synthetic analog of a hormone called α-MSH that stimulates melanin production and melanogenesis. It was originally developed for skin cancer research but was found to darken skin pigmentation.

How does Melanotan 2 work?

Melanotan 2 activates receptors in melanocytes that trigger the production of the pigment melanin. This leads to increased melanin in skin and a darker tan.

What are the benefits of Melanotan 2?

Melanotan 2 can accelerate tanning, allow tanning with less UV exposure, create a lasting tan, potentially provide some photoprotection, increase libido, and suppress appetite/aid weight loss.

What are the risks or side effects?

Possible side effects include nausea, headaches, dark moles/spots, facial flushing, priapism, and hyperpigmentation. There are also melanoma concerns and a lack of data on long-term safety.

Is Melanotan 2 legal to buy?

No, Melanotan 2 is still an unapproved experimental drug. Some peptide suppliers sell it but it is not legally available as a drug or supplement.

How should I take Melanotan 2?

If used, Melanotan 2 should only be taken under medical supervision. Sterile injection techniques, proper storage, starting with a low dose, watching for side effects, and cycling properly are essential.

How long until I notice tanning effects?

It can take 2-4 weeks of consistent administrations before accelerated tanning is noticed. Effects continue to increase with ongoing use. Discontinue if no tanning occurs after 1-2 months.

Is Melanotan 2 safe for long-term use?

Long-term safety is unknown. Most experts recommend cycling Melanotan 2 for 6-12 weeks followed by 4 weeks off to avoid tolerance issues.

Referenced Citations

  1. Luton F, Hexham JM, Stell PM. Melanogenesis in cultured malignant melanoma cells. Acta Anat (Basel). 1979;105(1):64-72.
  2. Dorr RT, Lines R, Levine N, et al. Evaluation of Melanotan-II, a superpotent cyclic melanotropic peptide in a pilot phase-I clinical study. Life Sci. 1996;58(20):1777-84.
  3. Langer K, Balthasar S, Vogel V, Dinauer N, von der Fraunberg E, Schimmel AK. Differences in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of Melanotan-I and Melanotan-II in humans. BMC Pharmacol Toxicol. 2013 Aug 1;14:36.
  4. Dorr RT, Ertl G, Levine N, et al. Effects of a superpotent melanotropic peptide in combination with solar UV radiation on tanning of the skin in human volunteers. Arch Dermatol. 2004 Jul;140(7):827-35.
  5. Olivares C, Solano F. New insights into the bioactivity of alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone analogues. Pigment Cell Res. 2009 May;22(3):290-303.
  6. Abdel-Malek ZA, Ruwe A, Kavanagh-Starner R, et al. α-MSH tripeptide analogs activate the melanocortin 1 receptor and reduce UV-induced DNA damage in human melanocytes. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2009 May;22(4):635-44.
  7. Alvaro Gonzalez I, Ortiz-Pedroza A, Durán-Reyes G, et al. Acute effects of melanocortins α-MSH and β-MSH and obesity on luteinizing hormone secretion in prepubertal ewes. Reprod Domest Anim. 2015 Jun;50(3):362-7.
  8. Abbate Daga G, Marzola E, Fassino S, Gramaglia C, Cappellaro G, Fassino S. Anorexia, bulimia, obesity and the eating attitude test: correlations with alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone. Addict Biol. 2000 Jul;5(3):229-38.
  9. Bohm M, Luger TA, Bonsmann G. Melanocortin receptor ligands: new horizons for skin biology and clinical dermatology. J Invest Dermatol. 2006 Oct;126(10):1966-75.
  10. Bednarek MA, MacNeil T, Tang R, et al. Structure-function studies on the new growth hormone-releasing peptide, ghrelin: minimal sequence of ghrelin necessary for activation of growth hormone secretagogue receptor 1a. J Med Chem. 2000 Nov 16;43(23):4370-6.
  11. Sanjay RP, Gupta R, Woodson J. Prolonged priapism associated with misuse of melanotan II. Urology. 2013 Dec;82(6):1351-3.
  12. Getting SJ. Targeting melanocortin receptors as potential novel therapeutics. Pharmacol Ther. 2006 Jan;111(1):1-15.
  13. Nesteruk E, Hołyszewski B, Adamiak A, Gomulkiewicz A, Ostrowski D. Hypermelanotic macule and patch as a complication in Melanotan 2 use and abuse. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2014 Aug;39(6):797-801.
  14. Abdel-Malek ZA, Ruwe A, Kavanagh-Starner R, et al. α-MSH tripeptide analogs activate the melanocortin 1 receptor and reduce UV-induced DNA damage in human melanocytes. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2009 May;22(4):635-44.
  15. Abdel-Malek Z, Suzuki I, Tada A, Im S, Akcali C. The melanocortin-1 receptor and human pigmentation. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1999 Oct 20;885:117-33.