Topical Forskolin: possible Rub on Tan

Written by on September 22, 2006 in melanotan with 15 Comments

Another potential way to increase the amount of melanin in the skin is gaining some publicity from a Sep. 21 article in Nature. Whereas melanotan (Clinuvel, epitan) uses a synthetic melanocyte stimulating hormone, forskolin stimulates the production of melanocyte in fair skinned individuals by raising a chemical known as cyclic AMP (cAMP). Alas forskolin is a known vasodilator.

From Rub On a Tan and Prevent Skin Cancer?

To figure out what’s going on under the skin, Fisher and his team studied red-haired, fair-skinned mice. Like people with red hair and light skin, these mice didn’t tan, but instead burned when exposed to the sun and its ultraviolet rays.

Melanin is manufactured when a chemical known as cyclic AMP (cAMP) stimulates melanocytes, the melanin-producing cells in the skin. Different people produce different levels of cAMP. People with red hair and fair skin tend to have low levels of cAMP.

Levels of cAMP are controlled by a hormone called melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH). The reason that fair-skinned, red-haired mice have low levels of cAMP is that the receptor for MSH, which is called MC1R, is shaped differently and can’t be effectively stimulated by MSH. The result is fair skin, because less pigment is produced.

Fisher and his colleagues believed that this pathway to melanin production could be repaired in the fair mice. To test this theory, the researchers used a compound known as forskolin on the mice because it’s believed to raise cAMP levels.

Indeed, after forskolin was rubbed on the skin of the mice, their skin darkened. According to Fisher, the tanning process appeared to be indistinguishable from the normal tanning process that skin goes through when exposed to sunlight. And, he said, the mice didn’t have the same inflammatory response in their skin after being exposed to the sun. Additionally, the researchers didn’t notice any ill effects from the treatment, he added.

But, Fisher said, “Long before this could be recommended for people, it has to be rigorously tested. We have to be sure what we’re doing is safe. We don’t want to cause problems in people who are otherwise healthy.”

Read more about: melanotan

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About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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15 Reader Comments

  1. Is there a form available for the skin.

  2. This is preliminary research, so a safe useable form for humans will be many years away, sadly.


  3. Jennifer Kelly says:

    i would like to start using forskolin to protect my skin from sun damage. it is now 2008, is there a website where i can buy forskolin tanning cream?

    kind regards

    Jennifer Kelly

  4. Sorry Jennifer I haven’t heard anything else at this stage.

  5. Marky Mark says:

    Yeh i have been waiting a while and there does not appear to have been any updates on this. Maybe check out the Magen Biosciences website – but it has been very quiet over there on further developments.

  6. Dana says:

    Couldn’t you just prepare a formula with some sort of basic lotion mixed with the pills?

  7. missamberlori says:

    If scientists are looking for any guinea pigs-email me-I have never had a tan in my life and hate it! Hate the rude comments and the Stupid People who just do not understand that SOME people Just DO NOT TAN!!!!

  8. Hi Amber,

    You might be interested in something called afamelanotide which could become available before the product mentioned here. It has specific uses for a couple of particular diseases, but may prove useful for other conditions as well.


  9. alex says:

    i bought forskilin as a wightlifting supplement and came across the other possible uses for it after looking into it on the internet. being of fair skin myself i tried to see if it had any effect when applied to the skin with different creams etc. i have however found that it does not work. some other websites have said that they foresaw problems with getting it to penetrate the skin. if anyone has had any success and can help please contact me

  10. ali says:

    crush forskolin and mix with a bit of pure alcohol, wich u can find in white spirit. that will make it peatrate skin better but will also dry it out. i read that it took three weeks of appling on mice for it to work, so it will take longer on humans since we have thicker skin.

  11. Bruce says:

    Hi Everyone!
    I would like to help you all out a bit. I to am very fair and tried everything under the sun in self tanning. Unfortunately, as we all wait patiently for the forskolin arrival date, we have no choice than to use these products or nothing at all.

    Some products are good, but none can tan our hands and feet without them looking horrible.

    Here’s what I do: Fakebake is the best I found, as it shows where it goes. Put it on at night, wash off in the morning or put it on after you shower then wear it all day then wash off at night and reapply. Doesn’t have the greatest smell at first but it does fade. Depends on your body chemistry. Anyway you do it, it looks quite good on us fairskin people. (

    Now the hands and feet: Instatan is great! Sprays on hands and fingers, feet and toes. Dries quick! Just put the fakebake on arms, then thinly from wrist to just before the knuckles then let instatan do the rest. I think you all will be pleased how it blends. Spray it evenly and don’t touch it as it dries on it own.(

    In closing However, If you leave the Fakebake color coating on all day and it rains on you, it will start to come off. Instatan also will come off in the rain, so stay dry or carry it with you.

    Other than that, us fairskins will look pretty good no doubt about that.

    Until forskolin cream shows up, I think this is our best bet for now.

    Remember though, regardless of what you do, you are all beautiful people; all of you!!!

    Hope I have been able to help you?


  12. Alan says:


    That instant tan garbage doesn’t protect the skin and does not look natural.

  13. jeff bowers says:

    I used to be fair skinned and burned after 15 minutes in the sun. I now eat about half a teaspoon of forskolin powder every day. Plus I also mixed some water and forskolin in a simple spray bottle with a little Dmso. (Dmso works for so many aches and pains and so inexpensive!) Anyway I now can go in the sun. I never burn. Oral forskolin gave me a slight tan, but with the spray on topical twice a day there probably are two more shades of tan I will soon be reaching!

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