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The science and history of tanning

Tanning booths and Tanning beds, what to expect….
October 14, 2017
December Tanning Offer
December 1, 2017

Why do we Tan? And, er……Why we tan!

A glimpse at the science and psychology of tanning!

A tan is a sign that the skin is trying to protect itself from exposure to UV rays. This occurs as a natural way to reduce skin damage taking place. When UV rays hit your skin cells, they react to produce melanin, a type of pigment, on the top layer of skin. The function of Melanin is that it acts as a form of protection from further rays penetrating. It effectively absorbs and dissipates the UV rays to prevent damage. Natural selection and evolution has generally dictated that those living in areas of greater UV exposure are likely to have greater levels of Melanin, and darker skin in appearance.

Melanin is the pigment that gives us our hair, skin and eyes their colour. It is produced by cells called melanocytes. Dark skinned people have more melanin than those with fairer skin, and this is why darker people may refer to themselves as melanated. When you are exposed to prolonged UV rays, the DNA in your skin cells can be damaged. If your body does not have the natural darker pigment to protect itself- it reacts. The body makes melanin to protect the deeper layers from skin damage- This causes your skin to change colour, what we now commonly refer to as a tan. An absence of this pigment, as found in people with Albinism, causes hyper sensitivity to light and UV.

O.K- that’s why we tan….but why do we want one?

The Victorian effect

In Europe, the way in which we perceive the tan has changed. In much of our early history, the aristocracy and upper classes actively whitened their skin as a status symbol. It would show that the wearer was likely affluent, spending little time in the sun, employing workers to do outdoor and manual labour. The tan was associated with the working classes, and therefore was actively avoided.


The Cowboy effect

As times changed, people travelled and interacted more, as did our opinion of the sun tan. No longer just for manual workers the tan stayed as an important element in our popular culture. In films and music Icons from the USA, we would start to see actors and celebrities appearing tanned on stage and in the cinemas.

The Butlins effect

Air travel and the popularity of European holidays allowed us to actually achieve a good tan, and admire those well bronzed bodies on such trips!

The Arnie effect

Anyone familiar with bodybuilding will realise that tanning has an effect on muscle definition under lights. Although to the casual observer, this extreme application can often feel OTT, it is obvious to most that a happy medium can garner some great results.

Achieving that sun kissed look

UV rays have an affect on collagen and so can age prematurely. This is why we take such care to make the most responsible choices when tanning. If using sunbeds, you can use collagen bulbs on offer, creams and aloe vera for after care, and follow the regulations of our salon stringently.

Sunbeds: there is no natural wind, no shade, no cloud vs natural environment. This is regulated by using controlled time periods with specific doses. You also have mist and fans to cool you down.

Most sunbeds deliver fewer burning UVB rays but they do provide a more concentrated dose of UVA. UVA rays don’t cause burning but they do penetrate deeply into the skin and can accelerate age related damage.

At Bodilight we insist upon responsible tanning. Keeping track of changes is important and annual skin checks are recommended if you are a regular tanner.

The fake bake option

Bodilight has a range of spray tans and treatments to give you that bronzed look without any effect on the skin or collagen levels- but remember, tango is a drink or a dance – and errrr a lifestyle choice!