Ad Alert

The Fox Tan

Is it really possible to increase melanin production by slathering lotion on your skin?

What does the fox say? Get a tan.

The Fox Tan isn’t your average tanning lotion brand. For one thing, it’s Australian (exotic!). The brand also shuns influencer marketing, telling visitors to its website that it doesn’t “participate in paid influencer posts.”

So you could imagine consumers’ surprise when The Fox Tan posted on its Instagram page the following image of well-known influencer Kylie Jenner posing with the company’s products:

Surprise turned to anger and disbelief when consumers realized the image was photoshopped to include the tanning lotions. ( tracked down the original, a photo Jenner posted on her own Instagram account two years ago en route to the Coachella music festival.)

“So photoshopped.. unfollowed,” wrote one commenter.

“Careful guys — whilst I had a giggle, someone might take this as false advertising which can be a little illegal,” added another.

It got to the point where The Fox Tan felt the need to clarify its position in an edit to the caption:

EDIT!!!! We think ya’ll need a vacation, because this is CLEARLY photoshopped! We are just having fun with the release of our NEW Jet-Setter pack and not at all trying to make you believe Kylie uses our products — although we know she’d love them! Please calm down and just have a laugh with us…

But you’d be forgiven for not thinking this is funny. The company, after all, is using and benefiting from Jenner’s image without — we can say with a high degree of certainty — her permission. Even with the poor reception it received, found that the post has more likes (3,613 as of this writing) than any other post on The Fox Tan’s Instagram page published in March.

Suffice to say, it’s a bad look for The Fox Tan. And it’s only the beginning.

This is because while The Fox Tan insists that its products stimulate melanin production — allowing you to “get darker, quicker than ever before, whilst spending even less time in the sun” — we had a tough time tracking down any scientific evidence to support the claim that slathering lotion on your skin speeds up melanin levels, resulting in a change in pigmentation (i.e., a tan).

According to the FDA, this is accomplished simply by being outside:

Once skin is exposed to UV radiation, it increases the production of melanin in an attempt to protect the skin from further damage.

The Fox Tan points to ingredients such as L-Tyrosine, Riboflavin B2, carrot root extract and watermelon seed oil, which it describes as a “natural melanin builder.” These ingredients may help boost melanin but possibly only when ingested orally as food.

No guarantees, no returns

In the end (which is to say, on an FAQ page few consumers probably bother to visit), The Fox Tan admits that the lotions may not work for you:

As each skin type is different it is hard to guarantee you’ll achieve your desired results as it comes to the individual and how their body produces melanin when prompted.

In addition to no guarantees, there are no returns.

Finally, on a safety note, The Fox Tan’s products don’t contain sunscreen. Meanwhile, the FDA warns: “There is no such thing as a safe tan. The increase in skin pigment, called melanin, which causes the tan color change in your skin is a sign of damage.”

Find more of our coverage on tanning products here.

Our Ad Alerts are not just about false and deceptive marketing issues, but may also be about ads that, although not necessarily deceptive, should be viewed with caution. Ad Alerts can also be about single issues and may not include a comprehensive list of all marketing issues relating to the brand discussed.

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