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The Evolution of Tanning Services: From Sunbathing to Spray Tanning

Even as new fashion trends come and go, the concept of body tanning and getting that bronze, the honey-coloured glow is something that seems so timeless. Tanning remains a perennial summer tradition amongst those in the beauty industry so it’s no wonder why people may be curious just as to where all the craze started.

Whether it’s the ancient Egyptians or modern-day stars, the idea of a golden bronze glow has been considered a symbol of beauty and health. However, the methods and perception of this look have changed and evolved over the years.

From its roots to sunbathing all the way to the modern conveniences of instant tans and spray tanning, here is the history and evolution of tanning services.

Sun Protection 

The earliest form of tanning has always been sunbathing. Evidence suggested that the process of soaking up rays dates all the way back to the Ancient Egyptians who used oils and other naturally found chemicals to protect their skin from the sun’s rays.

In Fact, these early forms of sun protection were known to have been made from ingredients like rice bran, jasmine, and lupine. While the Egyptians had no idea of the harmful effects of the sun on their skin, they did, however, see the benefits and understood the concept of tanning.

Other cultures like ancient Greece also tried their hand with primitive forms of sun protection but to varying degrees of success. In particular, they used olive oil and several other methods of preventing their skin from burning up while getting that golden tan.

When Pale Was Preferred

While the colour or tone of your skin nowadays all comes down to personal preferences, beauty standards in the nineteenth century had put significant emphasis on the tan ness of your skin. A suntan and bronze skin was usually associated with the working class as they were the ones that toiled under the heat while the upper class shaded themselves in any way they could. 

However, this trend goes far back to Ancient Rome where evidence suggested that women would whiten their skin lead paint, or chalk. Things began to change in the early 1900s as Niels Finsen, who won a Nobel Prize for his work, invented light therapy, a process that harnessed the power and benefits of Vitamin D to fight back against diseases like tuberculosis. 

Turning the Tan Tide

Though visibly tanned skin was still well away from beauty standards created by Western Media of that time, more people were willing to soak in the sun’s rays for health reasons. Women put a concerted effort to protect themselves from the adverse effects of the sun, using creams and covers to minimise or ‘banish’ any tan or summer blemishes as they were referred to at the time.

A cultural shift began to form near the early 1920s with most people looking for ways to shed the traditionally conservative lifestyles they used to live. No place was this more seen than in France where, in 1923, beachside resorts remained open throughout the summer leading to the shift in views as sunbathing and body tans became a pastime for the rich. 

Body Tans in the Mainstream

The swift turnaround of beauty standards to accept tanning has commonly been attributed to Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel who was photographed wearing a sun tan in 1923. Her sun-kissed skin paved the way for the “sunburn movement” described by Vogue in 1929, which lead to a whole new industry of swimsuits and cosmetics made for the sole purpose of catching rays and getting that bronze-coloured glow.

From then on, the sun tanning craze led to several important innovations in the sunbathing and body tanning industry as a whole. From the UV-filtering tanning oils created by Jean Patou to the introduction of the bikini in 1946. None of those leaps in tanning technology compared, however, to the rise of indoor tanning beds in the 70s which truly revolutionised the instant tan industry.

The Spray Tan Revolution

Sunless tanning was more or less a version of all-over makeup, in the 50s, where medical researchers innovated in creating chemical compounds which could tan the outer layers of the skin. This was pushed even further, however, as the first mainstream version of spray tans came in the form of Mystic Tan in 1998. The earliest process of spray tans required the person to simply stand in an automated machine that would spray them from all angles.

This process would be even more commercialised with Jimmy Coco creating the world’s first portable spray tanning kit in 2003 which ushered in an era of celebrities and notable stars being obsessed with their bronze glows in the early to late 2000s. 

Spray Tans in Dubai and Beyond

That leads us to where we are today, some may wonder what the purpose is of body tan and spray tanning. It’s simple, people want to look and feel good. Tanning has had quite a journey throughout the years, from being looked down upon by the shaded upper class to sunbathing and instant tans being a common sight in the beauty industry, it’s no wonder people flock to wanting that bronze glow.

And at Plush Tan, we are here to help you with all your instant tanning and sunbathing needs. We offer some of the best services involving spray tans in Dubai and are more than willing to provide you with tips and tricks for starting and maintaining that golden flow. Visit our website or our many tanning salons all across Dubai and take a peek at what we have to offer.



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