Golden Glo Tans

Whether on the beach or in the ballroom, throughout much of history, pale skin was in. The less one was exposed to the sun, the less one had to endure hard days of manual labor outdoors. In other words, if your skin was shielded from the sun, you were living a fortunate life. While some cultures still have the preference for skin that is untouched by the sun, in the U.S. and most of Europe, the popularity of bronzed skin skyrocketed in the 1920s when one famous fashion designer returned from an exotic vacation… read on for the history of the sunless tan. 

Portrait of Madame X (Wikipedia)


In order to protect their privilege from the harsh sun and display the lightest shade of skin possible, societies in Elizabethan, Roman, and Greek cultures used everything from hats and parasols to lightening creams. 

Under the reign of King Louis XIV, 17th Century French beauty standards were among the palest, and high society shunned the sun. Toxic whitening creams were available for sale, and some women even swallowed small amounts of arsenic in order to ensure their skin was as bleak as it could appear. Sears & Rebuck sold a popular product called Dr. Rose’s Arsenic Complexion Wafers, specifically advertised as “perfectly harmless.” Some beauty enthusiasts even doused themselves with ammonia. A full figure was also in and something that was considered to be “peasant”, were muscles. 


Once the Industrial Revolution hit, more and more people were working in factories and mines -out of the sun- so naturally the perception of the sun began to change. Not only were shorter hemlines becoming popular, so was travel, and after French fashion designer Coco Chanel accidentally became bronzed during a getaway to Cannes in 1923, the rest was history. The tan was officially associated with health and leisure.

Also in the early 20s, German scientists working with X-rays discovered that DHA (dihydroxyacetone) caused a chemical reaction in the skin where compounds called melanoidins are formed, causing the skin to turn brown, mimicking the effect of a natural sun tan. Now that science had evolved, it was only a matter of time before the trend of sunless tanning caught on.

Vogue officially declared the “Sunburn Movement” in 1929, highlighting new products- and even a whole new industry- that developed in order to bring the bronzed look to the people. The very first self-tanning oil, “Huile de Chaldée” was developed in 1928 by designer Jean Patou, shortly followed by the first UV-absorbing tanning oil, Ambre Solaire, which was created by the company that later became L’Oreal. The first sunless tanning products were essentially body makeup, which promised a “perfect tan right out of the box.” The original Coppertone sunblock debuted in 1944, when pharmacist Benjamin Green invented a lotion to darken tans. The company is now the leading sun care brand in the United States, with annual $9 billion in global sales.


When the first bikini made its splash in 1954, it was partly due to fabric rationing to comply with President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 8875, and partly because showing a little skin in the sun was the new sexy. Before the war, most Americans never considered taking vacations to exotic destinations. After the war, however, leisure time increased in the United States, and more and more Americans were spending their holiday on beaches and in pools. 

By the 50s and 60s, surfing was on the rise in Southern California, and much like how Coco Chanel started the tanning trend in the 20s, Ursula Andress’s Bond Girl Bikini became a new image to emulate. The first Sports Illustrated swimsuit magazine was created in 1964. Being tan now meant you had money to travel and were active and healthy, spending time outdoors. Malibu Barbie, Charlie’s Angels, and the first string bikini from Brazil all promoted a healthy, tan look, and by 1978, the first tanning beds had arrived.


The indoor tanning industry may have come to America in the late 70s, but it BOOMED in the mid-80s, along with most of the cosmetic industry. According to American Business Information, tanning salons were the fastest growing US business in 1987. The first spray tans were introduced in 1998 where bronzed body seekers would simply stand in an automated machine and let it work its magic. Jimmy Coco invented the world’s first mobile spray tanning kit in 2003. 

Golden glo client, Kourtney Reppert wearing our custom sunless tan.


 Since the discovery of DHA and its ability to darken the skin, scientists and beauty gurus alike have been striving to create the most natural-looking formula that won’t make the skin look orange. Celebrities and even pregnant women can enjoy non-toxic, natural looking spray tans that leave you feeling great. Golden glo’s custom organic sunless tans are available in any shade from a healthy wedding glow to a deep dark exotic vacation tan. Which spray tan shade will work for you? Check out our SHADE GUIDE!

Contact us for more information and BOOK YOUR GLO here! 

Publish Date
Posted By