Hot or not--evaluating the effect of artificial tanning on the public's perception of attractiveness

Dermatol Surg. 2010 Nov;36(11):1651-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-4725.2010.01713.x.


Background: Despite strong evidence that sun exposure causes skin cancer, a significant proportion of the population continues to purposefully tan. Many individuals deliberately tan because they believe a tanned complexion makes them appear more attractive.

Objective: To measure the effect that a tanned complexion has on the public's perception of attractiveness.

Materials and methods: Forty-five women aged 21 to 35 were recruited. A digital photograph was taken of each subject. Each image was uploaded onto a public website until it had been rated at least 100 times on a scale from 1 to 10. An average baseline, or untanned, rating of the image was calculated. The image was then given an artificial tan using a skin tanning protocol available for Adobe Photoshop. The tanned image was then re-uploaded onto the website and another average rating was calculated using the same criteria.

Results: The mean score±standard deviation was 6.3±2.3 for the untanned images and 6.5±2.3 for the tanned images (p<.001).

Conclusions: The population who logged onto the website considers tanned people to be more attractive.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Beauty*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Perception
  • Skin Pigmentation / radiation effects
  • Sunbathing / psychology*
  • Ultraviolet Rays
  • Young Adult