There was a time when being tan contains a negative connotation as it shows that one is a part of the working class-working all day under the sun. In fact, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth in England, the paler a woman's complexion is, the more beautiful she is perceived by others. How come? Because it signifies wealth, breeding and femininity. It is a symbol of gentility, which means that a woman has the luxury of living comfortably without having to work. The skin should be protected from the sun's rays at all costs in order for women to get a longer line of suitors; hence, the importance of the parasol back then. A woman from the upper class who has a tanned complexion is perceived as brazen and wild as tanning back then could only mean work and playing under the sun for too long. Activities such as riding a horse for sport were seen as acts of daring and boldness-qualities that do not make for a good wife back then.
For the longest time, a pale complexion is akin to beauty. So what happened? How did tanning become popular? Well, it is actually more of a question of who started the trend. And the answer is none other than the pioneering fashion icon, Coco Chanel. Yes, not only did the Coco Chanel popularize the use trend of masculine inspired designs for women's clothing, but she also started the trend for sporting a tanned complexion. The popularity of sporting a sun kissed look came just in the early 20th century when Coco Chanel was photographed looking very tanned as she arrived from a friend's yacht after a cruise vacation from Paris to Cannes. Being a fashion trendsetter, celebrities were seen favoring beach vacations in order to have a tanned look like Chanel. From being avoided for the better part of history, sunbathing became an instant trend as it not only stood for wealth and beauty, it also symbolized being fashionable and "in."
From then on, the market for tanning products has been established. Because the sun's rays were proven to cause skin cancer and people's lives have become more immersed in building their own careers and businesses, the need for a safer and faster way to become tan arose. Enter indoor tanning salons. However, in the early 21st century, indoor tanning beds and lamps have again been labeled as carcinogenic. And so, self tanning through the use of sunless tanning products have been innovated to provide people with a safer yet still effective way of tanning.