15/10/2010 08:08 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

At Last - A Safe, Natural Tan

Most people say they feel better in themselves when they're sporting a killer suntan. But getting a golden glow doesn't come easily, especially for the pasty among us.

Flickr, webflunkie

Sunbathing, after all, isn't exactly the healthiest thing you can do if you want to avoid getting skin cancer (though there are plenty who ignore the facts, if the red-raw bodies on display every summer are anything to go by). And unless you have enough cash to splash out on salon tanning, chances are you've ended up with streaky, orange skin from trying to do it yourself.

But those days could be over, say scientists who claim they've discovered how to make skin produce more pigment without sunbathing. In other words, this could be the development we've all been waiting for - a safe, natural tan.

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston say they've found out how to control the process of pigment production in the skin. The pigment - called melanin - is what turns your skin brown in order to protect it against UV rays. So by forcing your skin to produce more pigment you don't just end up with a nice colour, you're protecting your skin against sun damage too.

The scientists claim an enzyme called PDE-4D3 is responsible. And by blocking its action in the skin, more pigment is produced.

But don't get too excited, as the only tests so far have been done on mice. However the scientists believe a cream that could produce the same effect in humans is on the cards - though it may take five years before it's available to buy.

Can you live without a tan? How do you feel when you're golden all over?

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