A beauty trend gaining popularity on TikTok, dubbed the "carrot tan", claims eating three carrots a day will give you a natural tan.
But can this really give you a natural glow? And is it healthy?
Why would carrots affect your skin tone?
Carotenoids are natural pigments that give red, orange and yellow colours to fruits and vegetables. Think of them as nature’s paint.
There are many carotenoids including lutein, lycopene, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is the carotenoid responsible for a carrot’s vibrant orange colour.
Once a beta-carotene containing food is digested, special cells in the gut break it into two molecules of retinol (also known as vitamin A). This vitamin A is then used in various critical bodily functions such as vision, reproduction, immunity and growth.
The body controls the conversion of beta-carotene into vitamin A based on what it needs. So, when the body has enough vitamin A, it slows down or stops converting beta-carotene into vitamin A.
Any extra beta-carotene is then either stored in the liver and fat tissue, excreted through poo, or removed via sweat glands in the outer layer of the skin. This is when the orange skin “tan” can happen. In medicine, this is called carotenoderma.
Carotenoderma gives your skin a yellow/orange pigment that is not the same colour you’d turn from a sun tan. It is concentrated in the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet and smile lines near the nose.
Carrots are not the only food that contains beta-carotene. Dark-green leafy vegetables, some (not all) other yellow- and orange-coloured vegetables and fruits also contain high amounts. Beta-carotene is also found in parsley, basil, chives, chilli powder, sun-dried tomatoes and some dietary supplements.
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