For those of us interested in health and beauty our relationship status with the sun is “it’s complicated.” For most of history, avoiding sun exposure and a pale complexion was considered beautiful, desirable and was a sign of wealth. From the dawn of recorded history through the turn of the century, a tan had nothing to do with health and had all to do with economic class. Of course, the industrial revolution changed that when jobs came out of the sun and into the factories, and the wealthy began spending their leisure time outdoors. In fact tanning wasn’t even discussed as an aesthetic topic until 1923 when the famous Coco Chanel accidently brought a tan home to Paris as an unexpected souvenir from a yacht trip. Ironic that the tanning fad was born in a country that loves mimes, non? Once color photography took hold in the 1950s ‘sun-kissed’ increasingly became a beauty standard.
Photoaging is the term used to describe the multiple aging effects of sun exposure (specifically UVA and UVB rays). For photoaging, as it is with most health concerns, prevention is always the best medicine. Along with stricter FDA monitoring of sunscreens, increased taxes, age limits and even outright banning of tanning booths, Americans are taking notice.