Don't panic: Why there's no need to stockpile fake tan amid news of a shortage

If you’re a fan of a bronzed glow, you might have heard some anxiety-inducing news this week.

‘UK faces a major fake tan shortage’, cry the headlines, along with photos of Strictly Coming Dancing contestants and warnings of a crisis.

This isn’t fake news. There is indeed a supply issue with ethoxydiglycol, a clear, colourless liquid that helps to improve the texture, function and effectiveness of some cosmetic products – including fake tan.

The ingredient is typically imported from abroad and is pretty essential in the production of fake tanner (along with hair dyes), as it prevents a streaky application.

The director of Sunjunkie, a manufacturer of various self-tanning products, told The Guardian that they’ve been unable to get hold of ethoxydiglycol since the peak summer sales season.

She warned that the product line may ‘suddenly’ come to a halt after Christmas, while online pharmacy Medicine Direct noted that a shortage of the ingredient had caused the price to jump from £12 to £103 per kilogram.

It’s only natural that this news would trigger a deep sense of dread among all those who value a tan all year round.

But today we bring you an important plea: Please, please don’t stockpile fake tan.

There are some key reasons not to load up.

For one, the shortage of this ingredient isn’t set to cause any issues until 2022 – by which time the problem may well have resolved itself. What will guarantee cleared-out shelves of St Moriz is if everyone and their mum buys far more product than usual, running down months’ supplies in a matter of days.

Secondly, while some manufacturers have reported struggles, others are clear: they’re all good to keep you bronzed for months to come.

Boots said its suppliers hadn’t flagged up any concerns about ethoxydiglycol, and a quick scan of Superdrug’s website shows no issues with accessing all manner of fake tanning buys.

Meanwhile, Blake Hughes, the CEO of Skinny Tan, said: ‘No need to panic – Skinny Tan has plenty of fake tan to keep the country going well into 2022.

‘In fact, with lots of new products launching over the coming weeks our warehouse is actually bursting at the seams.’

Cast your mind back to the early days of the first lockdown, and you’ll remember how panic buying caused misery.

Images of bare shelves and reports of shortages of everything from loo roll to spaghetti and chopped tomatoes meant that when we did spy these items, it was tempting to buy in bulk.

Just as a scarcity mindset made us think that if we didn’t buy these essentials, we’d go hungry, the panic around a fake tan shortage may trigger a desire to buy, buy, buy, if only to avoid the horror of being caught short and pale-legged.

It’s important not to let this anxiety get the better of you. Remember that shortages are not remotely guaranteed, and that if we all do our bit to remain calm, we should be able to fake tan our way through party season with no worries.

But also, if FOBP (fear of being pale) is causing you genuine anxiety, it might be worth taking this moment to reflect.

Would it really be so bad to go without fake tan for a night?

Dr Nick Earley, head of psychology at Helix Resilience, says we should ask ourselves: ‘Are we over-estimating how bad things will be if we don’t stockpile? Are we underestimating our ability to cope if we don’t stockpile?’

He adds: ‘Anxiety can cause extreme thoughts, so it’s important to question those thoughts rather than treating them as facts and acting on them. Then we can approach these situations with clarity and balanced decision-making.’

As Dr Becky Spelman puts it: ‘Stockpiling and panic buying is a completely irrational behaviour that makes no sense at all, because there is enough to go around and we don’t need to store stuff in our house.

‘If people just buy what they need, there will be enough items in the shops.

‘The message for everyone is to just stay calm, only buy what you need, and don’t stock up, because if we encourage people not to stockpile, then there won’t be any shortages of anything.’

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