Why is Being Tan Attractive? (Which Skin Tone is More Attractive)

tanned woman on beach

So, why is being tan attractive? There are two main reasons – social trends, and your emotional state. Tanned skin has long been seen as ‘desirable’ by society. On top of this, the mood-boosting effects of spending time in the sun can make people appear more confident, and therefore, more attractive.

According to ABC News studies have shown that darker skin is more attractive to more people. Using the famous website HotorNot.com, researchers posted various photoshopped images of the same women with varying degrees of tan, and the darker the tan, the more ‘hot’ votes the photo received.

Let’s have a look at these reasons in more detail below.

Social Trends

An article published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that tanned skin first became ‘desirable’ in society in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Scientists examined popular fashion magazines from the time, including Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, and noted a shift from promoting pale skin (and bleaching products to achieve it) to darker skin (and tanning products to achieve it).

By the 1960s, tanned skin was truly set in the minds of the people to be attractive and desirable. Having a tan became a symbol of good health, and social status, showing that you are able to afford to go on vacation. With the introduction of color television, celebrities further endorsed the tanning trend by having bronzed skin on the big screen.

As with all trend’s, tanned skin is only more attractive in American society, in this context. It is something society has created and maintained. Tanned skin is not literally more attractive than pale skin. Society has just attached attractiveness to tan skin and the people have followed.

In Vietnam, for example, tan skin is a sign of everything that is the opposite of what it means in the USA. Rather than a tan showing that you have the money to go on vacation, in Vietnam, a tan is a sign that you are poor because you must work outside on the lands, rather than in an office.

People in Vietnam go to extreme lengths to avoid their skin becoming darker, including wearing gloves and balaclavas in the height of summer, and using shower products containing bleach.

Tanning has become less trendy over the past few years here in America, too, as the risks associated with exposure to the sun have become more known. But, according to Dr. Suephy Chen, who was the lead writer on the HotorNot.com study and a professor of Dermatology, thinks the shift in trend towards paler skin again will be a slow one. She doesn’t believe that the associated risk is enough to stop people wanting a tan just yet.


Because of societal trends favoring tanning for so many years, many people say that they just feel more confident when they have a tan, which of course makes them more attractive.

It’s like putting on an outfit that makes you feel amazing – you hold yourself in a completely different way. You speak with more confidence, you walk with more confidence, and you probably smile more, just because you feel so great about yourself that day. A tan can have the same effect as a great outfit.

According to an article published in Psychobabbling, “the best way to be attractive to other people is to be attractive to yourself”. If having a tan makes you love yourself, then, you will be more attractive with a tan. If having pale skin makes you feel more attractive, then you will be more attractive when you are pale. The brain is very powerful when it comes to these things.

Other than that, spending time in the sun boosts your mood through stimulating the production of some of your happiness hormones. So, the glow is coming from the inside, not just from your skin. This again will make you more attractive to other people.

Related Questions

Which Skin Color Do Guys Prefer?

Guys are individuals who will find different things attractive. As mentioned earlier, being tan meaning being attractive is a societal trend that has changed in the past and will change again.

Good guys prefer people who are comfortable in themselves. So, rather than thinking about whether guys would prefer you tan, think about what you prefer first.

Is Naturally Tan Skin Attractive?

Sunless tanning still has a bad name, leftover from the early spray tan days and the ‘tangerine dream’ orange look. This is not really the case anymore, however, and fake tan can leave a beautiful, natural-looking tan.

It is a great option if you want a tan but are worried about the risks of sun exposure and is becoming more popular for this reason. A fake tan can definitely look just as attractive as a natural tan.

Which Skin Tone Is More Attractive?

According to the study mentioned in the introduction, tanned skin is more appealing to more people. This doesn’t, however, make it more attractive. It is just what people are used to and have been conditioned to believe is attractive.

If you love lying in the sun and love having a deep tan, that’s great. If you hate the sun and like having pale skin, that is also great. Be yourself!

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