New Drug Gives Skin a 'Natural Tan,' Without the UV Rays

A new drug can give human skin a "natural" tan — it activates the same process that causes skin to darken in the sun, without exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, according to early research.

In the study, researchers applied this drug to human skin samples in a lab dish and found that it darkened the skin, because it spurred production of the pigment melanin. And the drug doesn't damage DNA as the sun's UV rays do.

Much more research is needed to determine if the drug is safe before it could be used in people, the researchers said. But they are hopeful that the drug might actually protect people against skin cancer, because the presence of melanin in the skin is linked with a lower risk of skin cancer.