The Pursuit Of Tanned Skin Has Killed Women For Centuries. Even Cancer Did Not Wean Them From The Solarium

The Pursuit Of Tanned Skin Has Killed Women For Centuries. Even Cancer Did Not Wean Them From The Solarium
The Pursuit Of Tanned Skin Has Killed Women For Centuries. Even Cancer Did Not Wean Them From The Solarium

Video: The Pursuit Of Tanned Skin Has Killed Women For Centuries. Even Cancer Did Not Wean Them From The Solarium

Video: The Pursuit Of Tanned Skin Has Killed Women For Centuries. Even Cancer Did Not Wean Them From The Solarium
Video: Tanning: A Brief, Fascinating History 2023, October

Pale, overweight aristocrats or swarthy models with a drawn press: the fashion for skin color, as well as for physique, among women has never been consistent. And today there is no unequivocal attitude towards tanning: some consider it a sign of health, others remind of the risk of melanoma (skin cancer) from excessive sun exposure. "" figured out how the trend for "sun-bronze skin" changed from antiquity to the present day.


The well-known saying “beauty requires sacrifice” is not just a beautiful phrase. There are many facts in the history of the cosmetics industry that support this postulate. One of them is directly related to the whiteness of the skin. For most of the peoples of the world, both genetically white-skinned and dark-skinned, a light shade of the face and hands for centuries was considered a sign of beauty, prosperity, health and even aristocracy.

There are two explanations for this: one is quite simple and obvious, the other is somewhat more complicated. The first concerns manual labor in the sun. Neither a peasant woman working all day long in the field under the scorching summer sun, nor a shepherdess who grazes cattle or poultry from spring to autumn, nor a reindeer herder, whose skin is "tanned" by the cold wind and all the same sun reflected by the white snow cover boast whiteness of the skin.

Sunburn in their case is a sign of hard and constant physical labor. Even if the body is covered with thick clothing, the hands, feet and face darken and coarse from the sun. The skin is exposed to what modern cosmetologists call "photoaging" and elastosis (violation of tone, thickening of the skin, deep "chopped" wrinkles and "crow's feet" around the eyes from the habit of squinting from bright sunlight).

Almost all Asian peasant women, both in antiquity and to this day, wore and are wearing wide-brimmed hats, the purpose of which is not only to protect the owner from sunstroke, but also her face from sunburn. However, it is impossible to completely escape from the sun.

Another reason for darkening skin color is also physiological, but not directly related to the sun. Harvard University neuroscientist Nancy Etkoff notes in her popular science book Survival of the Prettiest that darkening of skin and hair is often a visual indicator of female puberty and fertility.

The hormonal changes that a woman's body undergoes during pregnancy leads to the fact that her face forever loses its girlish freshness and whiteness. An increase in the hemoglobin content in the blood made a woman, in the opinion of the ancients, similar to a man (in men of the white race, the skin is darker for this reason). And in the old days it was youth as a prerequisite for beauty that was the main commodity in the marriage market. Therefore, since ancient times, married ladies have resorted to a variety of tricks to imitate a light complexion.

Whitewash is one of the first quasi-cosmetic products known in the history of the beauty industry. They were already widespread in ancient Egypt, in ancient Greece and ancient Rome. Archaeologists who studied the burials of wealthy girls and women learned about this. They also came to a shocking conclusion: often, wishing to rejuvenate, the ancient Egyptians, Greek women and Romans literally killed themselves. Some of the compounds they used to whiten their skin, as well as the "drugs" taken internally to achieve the required pallor, were sometimes simply poisonous.

The most popular among the ancient Greek and Roman women were whitewash based on white lead ore (or lead carbonate). For the first time, the ancient Greek naturalist and philosopher Theophrastus (IV-III centuries BC) wrote about such an application of ore in his treatise On Stones. In the 19th century, the Austrian mineralogist Wilhelm von Haidinger gave this breed the name cerussite, adding the ancient Greek word κηρός ("wax") and the Latin cerussa ("whitewash").

Cerussite cosmetics were also used in the Middle Ages, when the whiteness of a girl's face was supposed to suggest her innocence and even prayer asceticism. The lead contained in the whitewash accelerated the path of the beauties who abused them to paradise: first they lost their teeth and hair, and then often their lives.

The practices of Eastern women were somewhat more benign. For Japanese women, for example, the whiteness of the face was considered the standard - at least among aristocrats and the geisha class. They not only covered their faces with whitewash based on rice flour mixed with pearl dust, but also blackened their teeth to make their skin appear even whiter in contrast. Portraits of white-faced beauties were made, in particular, by the famous engraver of the Edo era Kitagawa Utamaro.

Biographers of the Chinese empress Wu Zetian (7th century), the only woman in the history of China who bore the title of the ruling monarch - "Huangdi", note that she not only used whitewash with pearl powder, but also took it internally for rejuvenation. Obviously, this helped: the empress retained the throne and was actively involved in state affairs for forty years.

"The Empress's Recipe" was used by many eastern women from those who could afford it. And not only oriental ones: for example, the English "virgin queen" Elizabeth I loved to whiten her face. Chinese imported whitewash (which in Russia was terribly expensive) was also used by Russian princesses, boyars, hawthorns and rich merchants.

But the fashion for a pale, delicate porcelain face remained unchanged both among fair-haired British and French women, as well as among black-haired Japanese and Chinese women. Instead of lead carbonate, the same rice powder and other relatively harmless products were used.

The characters of the novels by Jane Austen and Emile Zola - noblewomen and rich bourgeois - constantly hide their skin from the sun under tulle parasol umbrellas or wide-brimmed hats. At the end of the 19th century, many "patented" creams appeared for whitening the skin and getting rid of freckles, which were also considered a sign of common people and poverty.

However, rubbing was not the most dangerous means of achieving "interesting pallor." So, in the middle of the 19th century, women even went to drink an arsenic solution (the so-called "Fowler's solution") in order to look pale, gentle and romantic. According to one version, the abuse of "Fowler's Solution" was the cause of the death of Elizabeth Siddal, artist and poet, muse and wife of the artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti. However, according to other sources, the red-haired beauty was seriously ill and accidentally went over with completely permitted at that time, and now prohibited sedatives.

The end of the fashion for "aristocratic pallor" was put not by work, but by rest. In the middle of the 19th century, among privileged Europeans, sports and outdoor activities became fashionable: tourism, including hiking, yachting and swimming. If in the 1870-1880s women were still forced to do all these pleasant things "in full ammunition", including several layers of skirts, a corset and stockings (it was even accepted to swim practically dressed), then by the turn of the XIX-XX centuries everything began to change …

First, there were special women's suits for sports, much looser than traditional dresses with corsets. Then, after the First World War, with the help of progressive fashion designers, women completely got rid of impractical long dresses and wide-brimmed hats.

Physicians and scientists of the 19th and early 20th centuries made a real breakthrough in the field of sanitation, hygiene and physiotherapy. The fact that the "fertile" climate of the Mediterranean coast is useful for patients with consumption (tuberculosis), doctors knew already at the beginning of the XIX century. Pole Andrzej Snyadecki back in 1822 established that insufficient insolation (sunlight) can lead to the development of rickets in children. In 1919, Kurt Guldchinsky found that irradiation with an ultraviolet mercury lamp improved the condition of young patients with this disease.

Later it was found that sufficient insolation promotes the production of vitamin D. Natural sunlight, of course, was much more pleasant than the UF lamps and fish oil, which were given to children to prevent rickets. With the blessing of doctors, children and adults from wealthy strata of the population began to spend more and more time in the sun, sunbathing, swimming and sunbathing.

On this it was possible to put an end to the obsessive, lasting more than one century desire of wealthy women to protect themselves from sunburn at any cost. It became fashionable, and above all in the aristocratic and large-bourgeois environment, among very rich people, to reveal their face and body to the sun: on the beach, tennis court, alpine trail, sailing, driving a convertible and even at the helm of a private jet, which were then open cabins.

The heroines Austin, Zola and Tolstoy were replaced by active, tanned and physically developed swimmers, riders and tennis players from the books of Fitzgerald and Hemingway. Young women who did not embarrass themselves with outdated conventions, looked and behaved like boys, received the nickname tomboy.

The legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel made her contribution to the promotion of a new way of resort life and, in general, a reassessment of aesthetic values. She is even credited with officially introducing the fashion for tanning, although, of course, this honor did not and could not belong to one person, even a very talented one. Love for the sun, air and water, the luxury of such a holiday has become a natural response to the overcrowding and pollution of large industrial cities.

However, Chanel, who loved to relax by the sea - and in Brittany, and on the Cote d'Azur, and on the Venetian island of Lido - began to produce collections of beachwear and flirty hats, similar to sailor caps, which did not save from sunburn at all. As intended.

The twentieth century revolutionized not only women's fashion but also cosmetics. Including in cosmetics, which first helps to get and maintain an even tan (or qualitatively imitate it), and then, on the contrary, to protect the skin from excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

According to the expert, cosmetologists have known for over 80 years that natural tanning can harm the skin. However, fashion is fashion, so they learned to imitate it. I must say that this is also not a completely new idea. All sorts of crooks and spies of the past who wanted to change their appearance had different means to imitate tanning in their arsenal, like chestnut juice (this is detailed in a series of stories about Sherlock Holmes). However, the new reality required proven formulations.

In 1929, the first, at that time experimental, means for imitating tanning, the so-called "self-tanning", appeared. The honor of his invention also belongs to Mademoiselle Chanel. In the same year, the American Vogue published an article Making Up to Tan, where the editorial staff convinced readers that tanning was at the peak of popularity, and recommended choosing powder to match tanned skin. But Vogue considered oils for self-tanning to be tasteless, appropriate only at a carnival. Before such funds got into mass production, time had to pass.

As usual, the war helped fashion. During the Second World War, women lacked many familiar goods. In particular, stockings were categorically lacking: both natural silk and nylon were used for the needs of the army. And walking with "bare feet" was considered indecent. In all belligerent countries, during the hot season, women imitated stockings with tea leaves, chestnut juice, and similar home remedies.

Manufacturers of cosmetics have also pulled themselves up. In 1941, Revlon released Leg Silk, which was used to dye the lower thighs, calves and feet. And wealthier women could turn to professionals. The famous make-up artist Lisa Eldridge in her book "Paints" says that in the warring London, in the Croydon area, he worked at the Bare Legs Beauty Bar, where real masters of their craft painted stockings for women right on their feet.

A breakthrough in the production of self-tanning products came shortly after the war with the chemical compound dihydroxyacetone (DHA), whose credit goes to drug testing scientist Eva Wittgenstein. This substance stained the skin, but did not stain the fabric. Since then, DHA has become the backbone of all modern self-tanners.

The love of tanning flourished in the 1970s and 1990s. It's easy to see this in fashion films, from Bond to American TV series about the beautiful life like Rescuers Malibu with Pamela Anderson. Women first tried on bikinis in the immediate aftermath of World War II, and the sexual revolution of the late 1960s made wearing them from a “slap in the face to public taste” into the norm. Photoshoots of models in micro-swimsuits appeared in all fashion magazines. The movement of nudists, or "naturists" as they called themselves, was popularized. People wanted to sunbathe without embarrassing themselves with bathing suits, and not only in summer and on vacation, but all year round.

Especially active women of fashion “roasted” in tanning salons to an unpleasant shade of red that had nothing to do with natural beauty. Bodybuilders also abused tanning to accentuate muscle definition.

However, already in the 2000s, cosmetologists and oncologists sounded the alarm. A direct link was found between oncological diseases (in particular, skin and breast cancer) with excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation. It also causes photoaging of the skin, elastosis and wrinkles. As an alternative, the same self-tanning and procedures based on it are offered. And for sun protection, creams, lotions, sprays and oils with an SPF factor are used. Luxury brands also have such funds, including the same Chanel, as well as Clarins, Lancome, Estee Lauder, and premium and mass-market brands (La Roche-Posay, Darphin, L'Oreal and others).

The media and the Internet seriously influence consumer preferences. “Information on two main topics has a huge impact: insolation (which rays are responsible for what, how they influence, when they influence, what are blocked) and photoprotection (opportunities, risks, harm). And, of course, information about media people. Many people realized that tanning to blackness is fraught with oncology (the famous celebrity couple Rybin and Senchukova, who amazed the public with their diagnosis),”notes Svetlana Kovaleva, international expert of the Filorga brand.

Kovaleva points out that sunscreens, getting into the water, can harm the fauna of the seas and oceans, so really responsible vacationers instead of SPF-factor creams now use beach umbrellas and special T-shirts with UV protection. Hats with wide brims, like the one in which Samantha, the heroine of Sex and the City, is resting on the balcony of her house, has returned to fashion. And instead of natural tanning, self-tanning is increasingly used again. Jennifer Lopez has become a real popularizer of these funds. Increasingly, experts point out that it is easier to get vitamin D from food or nutritional supplements than "frying in the sun", risking health problems.

“The golden color of the skin makes the body slim and the face fresh,” comments Fatima Gutnova, cosmetologist at Encore Spa. "There are more and more alternatives to harmful sunburn: the means by which melanoid-like melanin is produced." Specialty brands offer products for all skin types that give you the ability to control the saturation of your tan and care for your face and body. Experts recommend that women be attentive to the needs of their body.

You can also imitate a tan on your face with the right makeup.“The effect of skin dried to a fried crust has long been out of fashion, but being gently kissed by the sun is always appropriate,” comments Vladimir Kalinchev, national makeup artist for Max Factor in Russia. - For a tanned effect, choose bronzer and golden, sandy beige and peach orange blush. Use a primer or foundation with SPF as a base."

All experts remind that self-tanning, like any decorative cosmetics, can cause individual intolerance. Therefore, before using a new product for yourself, you need to test it on a small area of the skin - for example, at the bend of the elbow, in order to avoid an allergic reaction.