06/15/2017 12:54 EDT

'Tanning Drug' Can Darken Skin While Preventing Skin Cancer

No UV exposure needed.

Scientists have developed a new drug that will "tan" your skin without exposing you to damaging UV rays.

According to the team at Massachusetts General Hospital, the new drug leaves the same golden brown tan people get from the sun without causing damage.

Dr. David Fisher, one of the researchers, told BBC News there is evidence the drug will also work on fair-skinned redheads who typically burn in the sun.

The drug, which is rubbed onto the skin, creates a chemical reaction that boosts melanin (dark pigmentation).

"It has a potent darkening effect," Fisher explained. "Under the microscope it's the real melanin, it really is activating the production of pigment in a UV-independent fashion."

Fisher says the drug may even lower skin cancer risks for light-coloured people since dark skin is associated with a lower risk of all forms of skin cancer.

Despite that fact, sunscreen is still recommended for everyone since dark-skinned people who develop skin cancer are more likely to die from it than white, Hispanic, or East Asian patients.

Fisher says the new drug could be a great option for pale-skinned people who tend to stay fair as a result of sunscreen use as it will give them colour without exposing their skin to harmful sun damage.

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