I thought that we'd learned our lesson about not doing Stupid Things that We Read About on the Internet. I mistakenly assumed that in spite of the allure of a pull-quote from Gwyneth or a gauzy photograph, we'd know to make good choices about our bodies. But nope, here we are, cramming wasp nests into our vaginas and rubbing cans of Coke all over our skin.
According to Allure, some people swear that the secret to a deep tan this summer is pouring a can of Coca-Cola all over your body before you head to the pool. (You could do it at the pool, I guess, assuming you don't mind people staring open-mouthed and inching their chairs away from you.) The walking manifestations of Yahoo Answers! who have tried this believe that the caramel dye in Coke combines with the sun's powerful rays to make their skin look extra bronze.
The truly disheartening thing about this trend is that it's not new, not at all. Allure said that the idea of SPF-Cola was popular in the United Kingdom last year, and it's right; the idea seems to be so widespread in Britain that Coca-Cola UK addresses it on its official FAQ. "As much as we love Coca‑Cola, we really wouldn't recommend using it [as a sunscreen],"Coke advises. "There is no sun protection factor in it at all—it's a drink!"
Even Dr. Oz's Good Life website advised its readers against it last summer, writing that it was "one of the worst (and weirdest) things you can do to your skin," and citing an actual doctor who reminded everyone that there is no safe way to tan. But two years before that, the Brazilian film August Winds included a scene where Shirley, the protagonist, poured Coke all over her body while she sunbathed on a small fishing boat. ("The image is as unexpected as Shirley's choice of music: the Lewd's punk classic 'Kill Yourself,'" Variety wrote.)
In 2012, a Canadian blogger wrote that during a trip to Peru, some local women referred to Coke as "the Peruvian tanning lotion," and laughed at her for spending her money on actual sunscreen. She decided to try their South American secret, drenched her body with the carbonated beverage, and quickly learned that there were a couple of downsides to that approach. "Rubbing Coca-Cola on your skin means you are the stickiest person around. Disgustingly sticky," she wrote. "After 4 hours [...] I showered off the lotion and gazed at myself in the mirror afterwards. I stared in horror: I was beyond red—I was purple, and bumpy."
But one of the earliest references to Coke-as-tanning oil comes from Australia. In 2006, model Katie Price spilled that her then-husband Peter Andre "covered himself in Coke" every time he went to the beach. (She also said that Diet Coke was the secret to not attracting every insect with a sense of smell). The Sydney Morning Herald asked Cancer Council NSW if they approved of Andre's approach. "In a word, No," a spokesperson said.
It wasn't a good idea a decade ago, and no, it's not a good idea now. Just wear sunscreen, drink the damn Coke, and keep wasp nests far from your nether regions. There, you're good now.