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Why is a tan seen as attractive?

Verity Douglas
Writer and expert10 years ago
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Why do we want to tan

Sunbathing is the latest pantomime villain of the chattering classes, forget trans fats, parabens and smoking, it's the time of year to say boooo sssssss booooo to {tanning}. But no amount of sound scientific advice is ever going to stop the pale skinned from hankering for that instant 30% upswing in hotness a tan provides, but why is this?

According to a study from Bristol University it's not actually the suntan we find attractive. Eating a healthy diet with more Carotenoid-rich fruits and veg, like cantaloupe, apricots, carrots, peppers, and spinach, causes an attractive, golden tone-change to Caucasian skin in just a month. When Dr. Ian Stephen asked volunteers to look at "before and after" photos of men and women after eating Betacarotene-rich diets (lots of green and orange coloured fruit and veg), he found that people always preferred the golden effect from eating lots carotenoids to any of the other looks, including the darker effect from the sun.

It makes evolutionary sense to choose a mate with a healthy diet, and so follows on that the effect that eating well has on the skin would make someone more attractive. This then begs the question, 'Are we tanning mad because we are trying to fake a healthy diet?'

Psst! You didn't hear it from us but if you hate eating your greens and want to cheat a little, these are the best fake tans on the market >>
Verity Douglas
Writer and expert
View Verity Douglas's profile
Cult Beauty’s Content Editor and a Cult Beauty OG, Verity loves nothing more than the marriage of language and lip balm. A quintessential Libran, she’s a self-professed magpie for luxury ‘must-haves' and always pursuing the new and the niche — from the boujee-est skin care to cutting-edge tech. Balancing an urge to stop the clock with her desire to embrace the ageing process (and set a positive example for her daughter), Verity's a retinol obsessive and will gladly share her thoughts about the time-defying gadgets, masks and treatments worth the splurge...