I love tanning, both the process as well as the results, so I know many things about it, including advantages and disadvantages. However the other days I was wondering how and when this dark skin color actually became so fashionable.
And so I found out that although today is a trend almost all over the world, tanning has its origins in Western Europe. It seems that the 20th-century’s trendsetter, Coco Chanel has not just released women from corsets and garbed them into Little Black Dresses, but she also made sunbathing fashionable.
Before 1920, having a tanned skin was not at all the trend that it is today. On the contrary, the process was always associated with people from lower classes who used to spend time working outside. Furthermore, during the Victorian era, women resorted to all sorts of procedures in order to whiten their skin. From hats and umbrellas to arsenic and lightening powders, the aristocracy seemed capable of anything just to keep the sun away from their porcelain skin.
At the beginning of the 20th century, scientists started to recognize the benefits of sunlight and the importance of vitamin D that the human body receives from the sun. However, the climax was reached in 1920, when Coco Chanel got sunburnt during her trip to the famous French Riviera. People fell in love with her new appearance and began to adopt it as a new trend.
Later on, many changes occurred: swimsuits begun to be increasingly less, people started to use methods to increase tanning and SPF rated sunscreens appeared on the market. Therefore, the whole thing developed into a colossal industry.