Forskolin for Sunless Skin Tanning (Self-Experiment)

A common dietary supplement called Forskolin can be applied directly to the skin to induce a natural, ‘sunless’ tan. (See the link below to the original research.)

I’m testing it out on myself. For science. I live in Arizona and have pale skin. I have to wear layers of sunscreen daily (year round) to keep the harsh sun from prevent prematurely aging me. It’s tedious and impossible upkeep. Remember, self-tanners do not protect you from skin cancer or premature aging, making them poor option (unless you are aiming for a Trump or bodybuilder look.)

Initially, my first thought was to research semi-permanent sunscreen. Spray tans exist for streak-free, month-long wear, so why not a sunscreen? Alas, such a product does not exist. Getting a natural, sun damage-free tan would be an ideal solution for any individual in my predicament.

Here are my methods. I will update with progress photos in a couple of weeks.

Coleus forskohlii (root) extract 250mg gelatin capsules. (Standardized to 20% Forskolin. Rice Flour is the filler.)

  1. Empty the Forskolin capsules of their contents and collect into a bowl.
  2. Mix this power with enough water to make a thick paste.
  3. Spread this paste on skin and allow to dry.
  4. Wait 1 hour before rinsing off. (Alternatively, go to sleep with a towel on your pillow.)
This is the Forskolin that I’m using. (You can find more pure/expensive formulas… but I’m using a cheaper one for initial testing purposes.)

Stay tuned for updates and progress pictures.

Spry, M.L., et al., Prolonged treatment of fair-skinned mice with topical forskolin causes persistent tanning and UV protection. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res, 2009. 22(2): p. 219-29.


I tried neurofeedback to help with my chronic migraines:

First, I learned how to ‘relax’ properly during my biofeedback sessions by slowing my breathing, heart rate, and ultimately my brain waves. Once I learned to relax properly, I was told that 20-minute daily sessions of this would be as effective as the beta blocker I took every day to prevent migraine episodes. I might even be able to stop taking it altogether!

Long story short, this did not cure my migraines. Relaxing does *help* my migraines. Doing this in a dark room can completely quell my migraines triggered by sunlight. But it is no substitute for the beta blocker I take, and it’s ridiculously expensive. Honestly, a cheaper option would be to go to a yoga class twice a week.

Haunted by everyday noises

After many attempts at trying to curb my Misophonia, I decided to try my most expensive option yet: neurofeedback.

BrainWaveHealthIllustI’m apprehensive to even write about neurofeedback because I don’t want this post to seem like an endorsement of the method. But basically, the neuro process works like this: you relax in a chair with a few electronic sensors attached to your ears and scalp; the sensors read your brain waves as you listen to music and watch a light display on a computer screen; the music and light display are interrupted ever-so-slightly when the sensors detect that your brain is deviating from a happy and healthy state; these slight interruptions – or ‘feedback’ – are believed by some to rewire your brain to achieve some level of normalcy.

I’ve read about a handful of people online who say the method has cured their Misophonia or has at least reduced their…

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I Have Misophonia.

Misophonia is a neurological disorder where abnormally strong negative emotional reactions are triggered by the auditory system. Aka, some sounds uncontrollably and unconsciously upset me instantaneously to the point of tears or rage. There is no cure because we know relatively little about it (and the brain in general.) But my guess is that my misophonia is linked my premature birth (I was born at 26 weeks) and developing a sensory disorder, which is very common in premature babies.

I found this EXCELLENT blog about misophonia. Learning about other people’s stories and optimism while living with misophonia has helped me tremendously– I’d go so far as to say that it has saved my life. This disorder is very difficult to live with. Living without misophonia must be a very peaceful, calm existence. If you have misophonia like me, her blog might be a tremendous resource.

I feel inspired to keep my own log of experiences here, in hope that they might help anyone else dealing with similar problems.

Science Says You Are Unfathomably Unique

In 1990, the White House launched a hefty research undertaking called the Human Genome Project intent on sequencing and mapping the human genome. That’s 3.3 billion base pairs. And it succeeded. Because of this project, the entire sequence of human DNA is now available to everyone stored in an open-access internet database.

As a result, you now have your own DNA sequenced for under a hundred bucks in a matter of weeks. (A decade ago, that would have cost over $10 million dollars for one person!)

The Human Genome Project has spurred a number endeavors, notably The Human Connectome Project and the BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies). They endeavor to map neural connections of the brain, which are as unique to each individual as fingerprints.

Due to these recent strides of process in genetics and neurobiology, we are now beginning to see the unfathomable complexity and distinction each person carries. (We now know that even identical twins do share exactly the same DNA; it is altered by environmental factors, a phenomenon known as epigenetic modifications.)

By extension, we are learning that medicine is not a one-size-fits-all solution. For example, everyone metabolizes drugs in distinct, individual ways because our liver enzymes are encoded by unique genetic material. That means the same amount of a substance may affect two individuals in very different ways. (See extensive and poor metabolizers for more information.)

Does this seem like a lot of information? It is. We are swimming in a tsunami of new data, studies, and information every single day. But what most of it seems to be saying is: you are unfathomably unique. Many articles in this blog will be about exploring ways to use our physiological, genetic, and neurobiological idiosyncrasies to our advantage.


Sources and Links:

NCBI Genbank database

Human Connectome Project

White House Fact Sheet about the BRAIN Initiative

Polymorphic Cytochrome P450 Enzymes (CYPs) and Their Role in Personalized Therapy

To learn more about Human Connectome, I suggest reading Connectome: How the Brain’s Wiring Makes Us Who We Are by Dr Sebastian Seung.