Published on October 14, 2023

Melanotan 1 and 2: What is the Difference?

Melanotan 1 and Melanotan 2 are synthetic peptides developed to promote melanogenesis, the production of melanin pigments in the body.

While they share some similarities, these melanotropic peptides have distinct differences in their effects and uses. This article will compare Melanotan 1 and 2 to help clarify their unique roles.

Melanotan Origins

Both Melanotan 1 and 2 were developed at the University of Arizona in the 1980s during research on skin pigmentation. Scientists were isolating and synthesizing peptides from the pituitary gland to find ones that stimulated melanin synthesis.

Out of numerous peptide candidates, two stood out as optimal – These became Melanotan 1 and Melanotan 2. After initial animal research showed promising results, the university licensed rights to commercialize the peptides as tanning and libido enhancers.

Since then, numerous studies have continued elucidating the mechanisms and potential applications of these melanocortin peptides. They remain unapproved but widely available for research purposes.

Melanotan 1 Overview

Here’s a quick rundown of Melanotan 1:

  • Sequence: Ac-Ser-Tyr-Ser-Nle-Glu-His-D-Phe-Arg-Trp-Gly-Lys-Pro-Val-NH2
  • Roles: Tanning, appetite suppression, sexual arousal
  • Administration: Subcutaneous injection
  • Dosing: 1-10 mg/day typically for desired duration

Melanotan 1 was the first melanotropin peptide isolated. It stimulates production of eumelanin, the dark pigment responsible for tanning and brown hair. With regular use, Melanotan 1 causes skin to tan even without UV exposure.

Besides stimulating melanogenesis, Melanotan 1 suppresses appetite and enhances male sexual arousal. But its tanning effects are weaker than Melanotan 2, so it’s less commonly used today.

Melanotan 2 Overview

And here are Melanotan 2’s key details:

  • Sequence: Ac-Nle-c[Asp-His-D-Phe-Arg-Trp-Lys]-NH2
  • Roles: Tanning, libido enhancement, weight loss
  • Administration: Subcutaneous injection
  • Dosing: 0.25-1 mg/day typically for desired duration

Melanotan 2 is a shortened version of Melanotan 1, but with enhanced bioavailability and tanning abilities. It strongly stimulates eumelanin and also pheomelanin, the red/yellow pigment.

In addition to dark tanning, Melanotan 2 is a potent appetite suppressant. It also increases libido and sexual function significantly more than Melanotan 1. Due to its superior tanning and weight loss effects, Melanotan 2 became the more popular peptide.

Comparing the Tanning Effects

The most noticeable difference between the melanotropins is their tanning abilities:

  • Melanotan 1 causes a gradual, natural-looking tan. But effects are mild at typical doses. Higher amounts are needed for desired pigmentation.
  • Melanotan 2 promotes much darker tanning at significantly lower doses. Users often report a very deep, dark tan.

These distinctions stem from their ability to activate the MC1R pathway. Melanotan 2 has 20-100x greater binding affinity and activation of MC1R compared to Melanotan 1.

Since Melanotan 2 more potently stimulates melanin production, it produces a faster, darker tan compared to Melanotan 1 even at reduced doses. This made it the more attractive tanning agent.

Appetite and Weight Loss Effects

In addition to melanogenesis, both peptides influence appetite and food intake:

  • Melanotan 1 modestly suppresses appetite leading to some weight loss over time.
  • Melanotan 2 is considered a much more potent appetite suppressant, significantly reducing food cravings and caloric intake which translates to substantial weight loss.

Studies suggest that Melanotan 2 stands out as an effective option for weight loss, especially due to its heightened activation of MC4R brain receptors, which play a crucial role in regulating hunger signals. This heightened activation results in a more pronounced anorectic effect. If you’re considering its benefits, you can explore options to buy Melanotan 2 from reputable sources

Impacts on Sexual Arousal and Function

Another key difference is the peptides’ aphrodisiac properties:

  • Melanotan 1 can enhance sexual arousal and erectile function in men to a mild degree.
  • Melanotan 2 significantly increases sexual arousal, drive, pleasure, and performance in both men and women.

Again, Melanotan 2 more strongly activates receptors involved in sexual excitation. PT-141, a metabolite of Melanotan 2, exemplifies this – it was developed as a standalone libido drug.

For improving sexual health and enjoyment, Melanotan 2 produces more substantial effects based on evidence thus far.

Side Effect Profiles

When it comes to side effects, both peptides may cause:

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (especially at first)
  • Facial flushing or redness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches

Melanotan 2 tends to produce nausea more frequently than Melanotan 1, especially with higher doses.

However, Melanotan 1 is more associated with fibrosis or scarring with long-term use. This may be related to its sustained histamine release.

Overall, both peptides have decent safety profiles with short-term use. But increased side effects are seen with extended administration.

Summary Comparison

In summary, here are the key similarities and differences:

Melanotan 1 Melanotan 2
Tanning Effects Mild tan Dark tan
Appetite Suppression Modest Significant
Libido Enhancement Mild Marked
Weight Loss Moderate Substantial
Nausea Side Effect Low High
Fibrosis Risk Higher Lower

Using Melanotan 1 vs Melanotan 2

In most cases, Melanotan 2 is preferred over Melanotan 1 for tanning ability, weight loss effects, and libido enhancement. It simply provides more robust effects with a lower dosage.

However, Melanotan 1 may be a better choice for those very sensitive to side effects or concerned about fibrosis. It provides milder results with less nausea and potential long-term risks.

Stacking both peptides can provide synergistic benefits greater than either alone. But even higher side effects may result from the combination.

Overall, both M1 and M2 offer unique roles in skin pigmentation, weight loss, and sexual health. But Melanotan 2 tends to be the more commonly used peptide.

The Future of Melanotan Peptides

Melanotan 1 and 2 laid the groundwork for ongoing research into MC receptor-targeting peptides. Newer melanotropins continue emerging with refined properties.

One example is Melanotan II 20-33, a shortened fragment of M2 that may provide effects on sexual function and energy with further reduced side effects.

While not yet approved for therapeutic use, synthetic melanocortins remain an intriguing area of peptide drug development for numerous medical applications.


In conclusion, Melanotan 1 and Melanotan 2 are injectable peptides that stimulate melanin production and influence biological pathways involved in sexual function and weight regulation.

While they have some overlap, Melanotan 2 causes faster, darker tanning, more potent weight loss effects, and greater improvement in sexual health based on evidence thus far.

However, Melanotan 1 may be preferable for some due to gentler effects and potentially lower long-term risks like fibrosis. Ongoing research continues to uncover the nuances between these fascinating melanotropins and their promise for medical use.

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