Skin colour special! What’s behind the current fashion for skin tanning, and why do some people go to greater lengths to obtain a bronzed body? I speak to Dr. Ian Stephen of Nottingham University about whether a tan really does look healthy and attractive.
Example images from Stephen's paper that got the Guardian's commenters all flustered. The face in the middle shows the woman's natural colour. The face on the left shows the effect of sun tanning, while the face on the right shows the effect of eating more carotenoids. Participants thought the carotenoid colour looked healthier.The articles covered in the show:
Hill, S. E., & Durante, K. M. (2011). Courtship, competition, and the pursuit of attractiveness: Mating goals facilitate health-related risk taking and strategic risk suppression in women. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37(3), 383-394. Read summary
Stephen, I. D., Coetzee, V., & Perrett, D. I. (in press). Carotenoid and melanin pigment coloration affect perceived human health. Evolution and Human Behavior. Read summary