From the IMAGE archives: Your tan plan for Summer from the May 1976 issue

This week, we're looking back at tanning advice from the 1976 May issue of IMAGE Magazine. Needless to say it hasn't aged well, so please do not pick up that bottle of olive oil...

There is something singularly attractive about a healthy tanned body. A golden tan can make you look younger and feel better, and earn you a few admiring glances as well.

With summer fast approaching and hopefully, sunny days ahead, the temptation is to grab your bikini and rush out to get a tan as quickly as possible. But acquiring and keeping a tan is not quite that easy. There are other factors involved; your skin type and colouring, your age, the condition of your skin, the density of the sun's rays, and the presence of certain drugs or chemicals in the system.

Skin Types and Colouring


For the purpose of sun bathing, skin types and colouring can be divided easily. There is the very fair sensitive skin usually accompanied by fair or red hair and blue eyes. This tends to dry easily and will burn quickly and painfully. Great care should be taken with this type of skin. It is usually very slow to tan if at all. If you do develop a tan it is generally a very pale golden colour. Redheads of course have a problem with freckles.

Fair skin with brown hair and brown or grey eyes: this type of skin is generally a combination skin with greasy centre panels and dry side panels. It will eventually turn an attractive golden brown but only if you are patient and careful. Sudden and prolonged exposure to the sun's rays could cause painful burning.

Dark skin and hair: This category generally tans easily, quickly and painlessly. Though a little caution should be exercised initially, particularly if one travels to a much hotter climate.


The very young skin and the older postmenopausal skin can be extremely sensitive to the sun. These age groups generally have a dry skin and burn and peel easily. The older woman knows of the dangers of sunburn but very young children have no such awareness of the dangers of sunburn and depend on us to protect them. Don't allow young children to play for long hours in the sun without protecting their heads and their bodies. Apply the same rules for sun-bathing to them as you would to yourself. It is not necessary to lie for long periods in the sun to become burned, the same damage can be done while standing or running about.

Drugs and Chemicals

The presence of certain drugs and chemicals in the system can cause you to burn more easily or cause pigmentation. The one which we would be most concerned with is the contraceptive pill. During pregnancy quite a few women find that their skin becomes darker in large patches, rather like an uneven suntan. Women on the pill quite often find they suffer from the same condition. It is thought to be due to certain hormones in the pill and the only remedy is to either stop taking the pill or stay out of the sun.


The Density of the Sun's Rays

At mid-day the sun's rays are most dense and therefore most intense. Don't start your sunbathing between 11am and 3pm if you want to avoid burning and peeling.

Prepare for your Suntan Now

Put a good dollop of bath oil in your daily bath. Johnson's baby oil is fine or even cooking oil or olive oil if you are stuck.

One of the prime factors in developing a tan and preventing peeling is the condition of your skin. It should be oily rather than dry. Now is the time to start preparing your skin for the sun. Put a good dollop of bath oil in your daily bath. Johnson's baby oil is fine or even cooking oil or olive oil if you are stuck. After your bath rub any body lotion into your skin. Nivea skin lotion, Vaseline skin lotion or Johnson's baby lotion are all very good and not too expensive. If you remember to do this every day you will be surprised how well your skin will respond and become smooth and satiny in no time. Even if you never lie in the sun your skin will respond and feel better after incorporating this daily routine into your beauty treatment. Now, too, is the time to inspect elbows and heels and pumice away any dry, dead skin.

Personally, my favourite sun tan oil is 4ozs. of olive oil with about three drops of tincture of iodine added. It never fails to work.


And now for those sunny days. There is a wide range of preparations available to protect the skin from the sun's rays but there is no need to be confused, they quite clearly state for which skin type they are suitable and instruct you on their use. Generally, each range includes a sun protection range and an after sun moisturiser. It is worthwhile to use both. On the other hand you may like to use one of Granny's tanning recipes. Usually olive oil was a favourite with, perhaps, one other additive. Some people favour vinegar but this smacks too much of salad dressing for my liking. Personally, my favourite sun tan oil is 4ozs. of olive oil with about three drops of tincture of iodine added. It never fails to work.

If your skin is dry and sensitive it is better to use cream especially formulated for your skin type. Darker less sensitive skins can get away with almost any oil. For children, Ambre Soleil Mousse is excellent. It is not greasy and affords complete protection. Little girls like it and little boys don't think it's 'cissy'.

But whatever preparation you use the rule is basically the same. In order to acquire a deep lasting tan, a gradual sun-soaking is a must. For the very fair ten minutes a day for the first two days is sufficient. Twenty minutes for the next two days. A half an hour for the next two and so on. Build the time up gradually and you will build up a good colour painlessly and effortlessly. After each sun bath smooth on after sun moisturiser. Even such a short time in the sun can cause dryness and if your skin becomes too dry peeling will result and all your efforts will have been in vain.

For the less sensitive skinned start with twenty minutes a day and build it up from there.

When you have acquired a basic tan and can stay in the sun for quite long periods remember that the effects of too much sun can be very ageing. Care must be taken to keep your skin moisture content well balanced, you will only achieve this by using a good moisturiser regularly and consistently.

Remember too, when sunbathing near the sea, that the rays of the sun reflect off the water and are twice as effective than if you were sunbathing in your own garden. There is nothing more painful or miserable than a bad case of sunburn and with a little care and common sense it can be quite easily avoided. We hope you enjoy your holiday.



This article originally appeared in the May 1976 issue of IMAGE Magazine. 

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