1709459158 The Far From Innocent Matter of Tanning The Dark Man

The Far From Innocent Matter of Tanning: The Dark Man Who Speaks on Economics and Social Position | Beauty | S fashion

Welcome to a history of tanning that is full of comings and goings, sometimes I love you, sometimes I hate you. It stars Coco Chanel, Julio Iglesias and Miley Cyrus. This is also an attempt to answer this question: after years of demonizing the sun, is tanning back in fashion and popular? Yes, when we pay attention to the screens, it's like paying attention to life. We see that searches for the words “self tanner” and “glow” on Google have only increased since 2017; also that of sunscreens. It's not about having skin like the characters in Martin Parr's photos, but about being “kissed by the sun,” a much more literary term whose hashtag #sunkissed returns thousands of results. Not by sunbathing, but by mimicking its effect on the skin.

Miley Cyrus, investor in self-tanning brand Dolce Glow, looked very sombre at the Grammys.Miley Cyrus, investor in self-tanning brand Dolce Glow, looked very dark at the Grammys. John Shearer (Getty Images for The Recording A)

A color like this suggests health and health is beauty. The term self-tanner is adopted from TikTok, which is like adopting it from our brains. Miley Cyrus appears radiant at the Grammys and radiates energy to the world. The artist is one of the investors in the self-tanning brand Dolce Glow. The solar products category is gaining traction in stores and among brands themselves: there is no longer any stigma. Cult Beauty, one of the leading online cosmetics stores, gives it the same importance as its face and body products. It's not about sunbathing, but about a golden color that is different and is the key to this new way of tanning. This happens in 2024, but let's start this story at the beginning, in the past.

The not-so-eternal history of tanning

The sun has been fulfilling its function for 4.6 billion years. However, tanning on purpose and as a trend is a new invention. We've only been doing this for a hundred years. Until the beginning of the 20th century, ultraviolet radiation affected the skin and no one talked about it. It happened and in many western cultures it was disliked. Skin color was never innocent: in Greece and Rome, toxic substances were often used to lighten it. This custom lasted for centuries. In the book L'Invention du Bronzage, Pascal Ory speaks of an epidermal ancien regime in which pallor revealed high ancestry. According to this French historian, this began with the Christian era when whiteness was associated with innocence and virginity. The dark color suggested the opposite: vice and, moreover, everything foreign and colonized. Intellectualized or not, the truth is that tanning has always been a sign of status, sometimes due to its presence and sometimes due to its absence.

18th century painting of Pandora, with skin untouched by the sun, opening the blunderbuss (perhaps the tanning).18th century painting of Pandora, with skin untouched by the sun, opening the Box of Thunder (perhaps the Box of Tanning). UniversalImagesGroup (Getty Images)

To achieve clear or golden skin, crazy things have been done throughout history. Let's think of Michael Jackson. Every Boomer remembers trying to revive their skin color by mixing Nivea with Mercromin or using Natural Action carrot cream, something that would make any dermatologist giddy today. These absurdities, on the contrary, are the heirs of those committed by Elizabeth I of England, who ruled in the 16th century. She destroyed her skin, like so many upper-class women of the time, by applying ceruse, a lead-containing compound, to appear white; He mistreated her so much that she had to stop posing for royal portraits. This story appears in The Terrible History of Beautiful Things by Katy Keller (Alpha Decay, 2023), in which she reflects on the paradox of the love of beauty under capitalism. According to this journalist, many beautiful gestures we resort to hide ugliness, and letting the sun tower over us is one of them.

Tanning has always been a sign of status, sometimes due to its presence and sometimes due to its absence.

We travel into the future and reach the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, where one of the turning points in the history of tanning takes place. In the middle of the 19th century, white skin also lost ground to tanned skin in England, where it began and from where it spread. The reason is clear: factory workers move from the countryside to the city, where they spend their days indoors; Therefore, it is the upper class who enjoy their free time outdoors and enjoying the sun. If you tan, it's because you can.

That didn't last long. Again the idea was reversed (this is a story with many of them, like that of vacationers in deck chairs) and over the course of the 19th century the sun once again became the enemy. It is the time when we see ladies with parasols and hats. Think of Sorolla's paintings of women walking along the beach covered from head to toe, or Singer Sargent's portrait of Madame. The upper class didn't work outdoors and women certainly didn't, and that had to be clear. According to Ory, men who are more exposed to the sun due to their work are attracted to white-skinned women, who are “considered valuable treasures, outward signs of wealth and superiority, and in this sense remain hidden from the reach of others.” Males at the same time.” at the same time as the sun.” Gender reading always goes hand in hand with social reading.

This idea spread for many years until, in the 20th century, the medical belief emerged that exposure to the sun had many benefits: healing skin ulcers, strengthening bones, etc. It was Niels Finsen who advocated phototherapy and told the world that the sun is healthy; For this he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine. The sun was therapeutic, but it wasn't modern. It took Coco Chanel to make it desirable. Legend, true in this case, says that in 1923 he got off a boat in Cannes with sunburned skin. But, says Inmaculada Urrea, a Chanel expert, she has been sunbathing on the beach for years. There is a picture of her in 1918, lying on the beach. Urrea thinks about the topic this way: “In his twenties his fame was consolidated. Everything he did he made fashionable. It's the decade when she also appeared informally with pearls because they contrasted with her tan. “She was the first female influencer in the world.” And he brings up another interesting idea: “She was a farmer who came into the world of luxury but took revenge. Her customers, who were wealthy people who had never dared to tan to avoid looking like they were working in the fields, ended up wanting tanned skin.” She wasn't the only one in favor was responsible for making the tan attractive. The rise of sports, the conquest of paid vacation, the beginning democratization of travel and the development of swimsuits contributed to this, to which Chanel also contributed. In the end it will be true that he invented almost, almost everything.

Coco Chanel and her lover Boy Capel sunbathing in Saint Jean de Luz in 1917.Coco Chanel and her lover Boy Capel sunbathing in Saint Jean de Luz in 1917. Apic (Getty Images)

From the 1920s to the 1990s, with the exception of the two world wars in which Europe was busy trying to survive, the world wanted to be tanned. The reasons were obvious: only those who were on vacation sunbathed. Who wouldn't want that. Brown skin was a dream word, a word that didn't appear in any advertising at the time.

And it was in the first decades of the 20th century that the first tanning products came onto the market. And once again Chanel was a pioneer. In 1927, he launched Huile Tan, an oil with the slogan: “Cools the skin and protects it from sunburn.” And years later, the Chanel pour L'Été line. At the same time, Jean Patou picked up on this trend and launched his tanning oil Huile de Chaldee, which was sold in a Baccarat crystal bottle. It wasn't for everyone's budget and went well with the increased tanning effect. Years later, in 1935, Eugène Schueller launched a more affordable product: a tanning lotion with sunscreen under the name Ambre Solaire. It was the time when Scott Fitzgerald described dark and fabulous characters in Tender Is the Night.

The protagonists of “Tender Is the Night” were tanning on the beach at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc a few decades before Slim Aarons immortalized his glamorous guests.The stars of “Tender Is the Night” tanned on the beach at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc a few decades before Slim Aarons immortalized his glamorous guests.Slim Aarons (Getty Images)

With the end of World War II, tanning entered a golden age, boosted by doctor-recommended use, the emergence of outdoor sports, surfing, and the ability to travel to warm places to enjoy leisure time on a sun lounger became. Let's write down another date: 1953. This year perhaps the most famous tanning advertisement in history comes from: Coppertone. The illustration we remember is by Joyce Ballantyne and in the film version the girl was one Jodie Foster. This product suggested that the whole family was tanning, and in Spain this would not be so exotic: in these years the economic model of sun and sand was forged, which exploded in the sixties. The history of conscious tanning runs parallel to that of travel and on this path a guest appears: color photography. It was also the time when Hollywood shone in Technicolor and stars' skin always looked better when it was golden.

Joyce Ballantyne's illustration for Coppertone, which showed the tanning of the entire family.Joyce Ballantyne's illustration for Coppertone, showing the entire family tanning. Robert Landau (Corbis via Getty Images)

But this sunburn wouldn't last forever, the sun damages the skin and we need to think about protecting ourselves from it. In 1962, the concept of SPF (sun protection factor) appeared, which no one paid attention to except doctors. Tanning is, by definition, a reaction. That's what Dr. Jorge Arroyo, dermatologist at Clínica Dr. Morales Raya: “Tanning is a reaction of the skin to the damage caused by ultraviolet radiation. Although it is usually associated with beauty and a healthy lifestyle, in reality it is considered a sign that the skin has been subjected to an “attack” of radiation and appears to be defending itself against this attack.” These were the years of the blue Nivea can: You had to tan and prolong the color, as we all know, the sun was hot, but it wasn't yet an enemy. Society already realized that we didn't need the 1.4 million kilometer star above our heads to sunbathe. Self-tanners were invented in the 1970s, a Coppertone invention that appealed to those who couldn't travel and didn't have bright sun at hand. The eighties and nineties were glorious years for tanning: the damage was ignored, or wanted to be ignored. UVA companies are spread throughout the cities. We read and saw it in American Psycho. Nobody had success with pale skin. Guerlain launched its Terracotta powders in 1984 and the budget version, the Nile powders, finds its way into the makeup bags of many Spanish women. If you haven't had a tan all year, it's because you didn't want to. From this period come the photos of Gunilla von Bismarck and her friends partying in Marbella with shiny skin, from this period the image of Julio Iglesias, who has built his identity around tanning, of the Princesses of Monaco in their eternal and golden holiday. It was in 1989 when a woman named Isabel Sartorius emerged who could be queen with a Mickey Mouse swimsuit and dark skin. The country was euphoric and this was reflected in fresh and brilliant aspects. It is the era of irresponsible Spain and irresponsible tanning.

Julio Iglesias' dark hair was a dream for an entire generation.Julio Iglesias' dark hair was a dream for an entire generation.Peter Bischoff (Getty Images)

But no party, neither the one at the Marbella Club nor the one at the Mayte Commodore, lasts forever. With the new century came fear. And here the trend changed again: love for the sun turned into hatred. In the 2000s we learned words like melanoma or carcinoma and other milder words like spots, and they are all dangerous. The sun was demonized and sunscreens stopped being called that and became sunscreens. The acronym SPF has crept into the cosmetic discussion. Anyone who sunbathed recognized it with a small mouth and always with mitigating factors: “But I use 50” protection. You'd have to live in a cave not to know that reckless sunbathing could cause serious health problems. We learned the phrase “responsible tanning” and use it summer after summer, even though Dr. Arroyo limits him: “There is no such thing as a healthy tan.”

And now? We already know that we can choose between tanning with or without the sun. We get 90% of much-needed vitamin D by exposing ourselves to vitamin D, but let's not get excited: experts say all it takes is ten minutes without sunscreen in the summer. Here too, cosmetics come to the rescue: we have the right products to tan and protect you. If possible. Brands are investing millions in it. There are now self-tanning drops, mousses, serums, tinted creams… Everything is designed to achieve that “sun-kissed” effect that we are more likely to achieve after a short vacation than after two months in the sun.

Carla Vuccino and Marina Rava laze in the sun while sailing the waters of Capri in 1958.Carla Vuccino and Marina Rava laze in the sun while sailing the waters of Capri in 1958. Slim Aarons (Getty Images)

According to Shiseido's marketing department, Spain was a fairly dynamic market for the consumption of treatment and makeup products in 2023. The segment of products with a tanned finish on the skin, such as moisturizers or make-up products, is experiencing double-digit growth. This confirms that we want a good color, but the sun is not necessary for this. Curiously, it is said that the consumption of self-tanning products is higher in the north-west and north-central of Spain. Makes sense. Further examples of the dynamics of the industry. Sofía Vergara joined the Spanish laboratory Cantabria Labs in 2021 to launch Toty, a sunscreen brand. Makeup trends like latte makeup call for brown skin every day of the year. The new generation self-tanners do not leave a Trump orange color, streaks, or smell: now they are drops added to the moisturizer or creams that modulate the tone after application. Queen Letizia proudly sports tanned skin all year round, whether it comes from the sun or not. The desire to be tanned “could be related to self-image and self-esteem, as many people believe that a darker skin tone improves their appearance and self-confidence,” says Gonzalo Jiménez Cabré, clinical psychologist at GrupoLaberinto. And he adds: “Tanning can also hide skin imperfections, which increases the visual appeal.” And isn’t that what we nobles, stars and common people want?

However, tanning in the sun is not the same as tanning with cosmetics in the bathroom; Maybe the first is more dangerous, but it is more attractive. Resting on the deck of a boat or lying on the edge of the pool means free time and puts you in a good mood. Cosmetics ensure efficiency and results. There is more poetry in the first and more prose in the second. There is room for both in life (and in skin).

History of tanning S FASHIONSlim Aarons (Getty Images)