Sunless Tanning Lotion

During the 1920s a tanned complexion became associated with youth and vigor as more and more people began pursuing active lifestyles. Tanned skin remained in style for several decades. In the 1960s several sunless tanning lotions, which imitate the tanning effect of the sun by darkening the skin with chemical reactions, were marketed for those too busy indoors to get a suntan and for those with fair complexions who did not tan easily. Within a few hours of applying sunless tanning lotion, the skin would change color. However, early products produced an unnatural orange color that was often streaky and uneven.

During the mid-1980s it began to become important to people to stay out of the sun. Scientists had begun to publicize the damaging effects of constant excessive sun exposure. Partially due to changes in the earth's atmosphere caused by pollution, skin cancer had become one of the most common types of cancer. Experts warned that sunbathing was unhealthy and recommended wearing clothes, hats, and strong sunscreens when out in the sun.

However, tanned skin still remained in fashion. Manufacturers responded to people's health concerns about tanning in the sun by developing and improving their sunless tanning products. By the end of the 1980s almost every major suncare and cosmetics manufacturer had produced a sunless tanning lotion. Sunless tanning remained popular, and by 2003 a sunless tanning pill was in development, which promised to chemically reproduce the look of a suntan.


Foltz-Gray, Dorothy. "A Tan for All Seasons: A Cautious Paleface Screens the New Crop of Sunless Tanners." Health (September 1995).

[ See also Volume 5, 1961–79: Tanning ]

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