In preparation for beach season, millions of people move heaven and earth in order to get a gorgeous golden tan. But have you ever stopped and asked yourself why?
Sure, we all want to look good, and we all want that Vogue-cover body, but is there any actual science behind the idea of tan skin being more attractive? We just had to look into it.
The psychology of tanning
We don’t want to get all Sigmund Freud on you, but the attraction associated with tan skin is as much about human psychology than anything else.
According to research, when women were asked whether they felt more attractive with paler or more tan skin, the results were basically unanimous. The vast majority of women said they feel much better within themselves, like what they see in the mirror, and have a rejuvenated sense of confidence when they are happy with their tan skin.
This seems to rub off on other people too. Studies have shown that one of the most attractive traits we find in a potential partner is self-confidence. Generally speaking, the more confident a person is, the more outgoing, friendly, and likable they come across to others. This quality can be magnetic, and having tan skin is seen as being a big source of that self-confidence, especially in women.
Another big reason why tan skin is seen as desirable is the subconscious association with health and vitality we give it. We’re not saying this is right, but through human evolution and the influence of modern media, pale skin is considered to be sickly looking. Of course, we know that people with pale skin can be just as healthy and beautiful as anyone else, but nevertheless, this mental connection remains.
Additionally, the link between tan skin and the sun is a very important factor. The sun is the giver of life, and vitamin d is one of the most essential keys to good health we can get. Someone with a lusciously golden tan has probably soaked up as much sun as possible, thus giving the further appearance of good health.
How do you get a good tan safely and effectively?
If you’re wanting to up your tan game, there are some things you can do to get a good one quickly. Of course, if you happen to live in a warm and sunny climate, the battle is half-won already. If not, tanning salons can be your best friend.
However, getting a tan isn’t as simple as just laying out in the sun, there are precautions you must take along with little extras you can do to speed the process along. Here are some tips.
Use strong sunscreen
This should go without saying, but failing to use a powerful sunscreen will expose your skin to harmful sun rays and lead to a lot of pain and burning. Sunscreen must always be used, with no exceptions. We’d recommend finding a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, but depending on your individual skin, you should experiment and find the best one for you.
Change positions while tanning
Don’t fall into the trap of having a few cocktails and falling asleep on your back, otherwise, your tan will be completely unbalanced and one-sided. Changing positions regularly while tanning is the best way of ensuring every part of the body is getting kissed by the sun. It will also help to protect the skin from burning. Definitely something to remember.
Use oils containing SPF
No, this isn’t intended to replace the sunscreen, but to work alongside it. Oils such as avocado and coconut oil can be an amazing tanning aid. They will work to keep the skin healthy and hydrated throughout the day, which will reduce the chances of the sun drying the skin out.
Did you know the foods you eat can help with tanning? Amazing, right? Studies have suggested that foods rich in lycopene, such as watermelon and tomatoes, can help to protect the skin from the sun’s UV rays. Every little helps!
Preparation is key
Before stepping out into the sun, preparing the skin for the day ahead can increase the chances of getting a good tan. Exfoliating can be a big help, as it will remove dirt and dead cells from the outermost layer of the skin, and reduce the chances of flaking after a couple of hours in the sunshine.
What are the risks of tanning?
Having a great tan is all well and good, but it doesn’t come without risks. Naturally, spending so much time under the hot sun can bring a set of potential problems that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The most obvious of these is sunburn. Failing to correctly protect the skin with strong sunscreen can lead to a painful burn that will flare up, turn red, and cause skin peeling. Anyone who’s ever had a bad sunburn will agree it is best avoided.
Next, overexposure to the sun can accelerate skin aging. This is because the skin can get super dry and potentially damaged by UV rays, leading to lines, cracks, and other signs of aging.
Dehydration is another big issue that too many people don’t take seriously. Always keep water nearby to drink regularly when spending a long time in the sun. Dehydration can actually be fatal if left unchecked, especially in very hot temperatures.
Finally, the daddy of them all, skin cancer. We don’t need to expand on the seriousness of this potential outcome, which is why you should always take the proper protective measures when tanning.
We think everyone is beautiful in their own way, but from a psychological perspective (and because of modern media) it’s obvious that having tan skin is seen as a highly desirable and attractive trait. Achieving a great tan should be done with care and common sense, taking all the necessary precautions to best protect the skin from damage and irritation.
Who’s ready for summer? We definitely are! See you on the beach!