Bronzed Skin and What it Truly Means

Skincare Anarchy
4 min readJan 3, 2022


Photo by Jernej Graj on Unsplash

Having “bronzed” skin has been seen as a summer opulence since the 1970’s when having a healthy glow permeated the American ideal of attractiveness.

In the late 1890’s, the only people who were tanned were hard laborers. Fair skin was a sign of wealth and luxury. This was seen with brands like Aspinall’s Neigeline Cream. A skin cream that was “absolutely non poisonous to keep the skin like “beautiful velvet in cold or hot weather.” Zora Neale Hurston once said “If it was so honorable and glorious to be black, why was it the yellow-skinned people among us had so much prestige?”

Having a darker skin tone has always been something that’s been “cool” momentarily. If you ask any person who is tanning if they’d actually want to be treated like a black or brown person, the chances that they would say no is very high, due to the constant discrimination and adversity that is faced.

“Skin is, in biological terms, just another organ. It naturally stretches and grows and darkens. But it has also always symbolized so much more than that. Darkened skin on thin white bodies is read as sun-kissed, the lingering memory of an afternoon spent surfing waves and drinking beers on the beach. On Black and Brown bodies it has, time and time again, been equated with and been imagined as proof of physical inferiority. So, to see white people so confidently flaunt their darker skin and pretend like they have suddenly achieved a certain level of Brownness feels unfair and ignorant of the reality that no matter how tan they are, they will never actually be shamed or deemed unemployable or excluded from social spaces.” (2018, May 05) When Does Tanning Become Racially Insensitive? Paper Magazine.

Having real “bronzed” skin in the beauty community corresponds with a lack of accessibility. Over the years, beauty brands have been lacking with their shade selections. Darker skin tones have always struggled with being seen as an equally attractive skin tone from society and this is shown by the worlds exclusivity in foundation ranges. The concept of range has always existed but not before us in a genuine capacity. One of the many reasons Fenty Beauty is on the rise is due to its amazing way identify and recognize so many shades and undertones. A lot of brands say that they are “diverse” but that's not something a woman or man with deep dark shades can agree with.

Photo by Cris CL on Unsplash

Typically, there are four pigments used to create one shade: white, yellow, red, and black. To create deeper hues, some chemists mix in too much black pigment, which can leave skin looking bruised. For a caramel hue, there may be too much red or yellow, which can leave skin looking orange. Sometimes, chemists add titanium dioxide, a pigment used in many cosmetics to add coverage. Result: an ashy finish. So even when dark shades are available, many of them haven’t been very good.” Arterberry, A. (2015, December 26) Why Are Women of Color Still Having Trouble Finding Foundation? Cosmopolitan.

The problem wasn’t just about not finding the perfect red lipstick for our melanated personality ratio, but also having issues with finding that complementary yellow dress, or the most stunning fabrics. It is the cross-industry misinformation and misrepresentation of something that should have been so easy to get right.

On some subconscious level, it has an impact. Some have shed that layer of disproportionately low level of representation, while some still might be unknowingly navigating with it’s disposition.

More brands like Fenty Skin are needed, and not just in the beauty industry. “Starting with Fenty Beauty foundation, face primer and Gloss Bomb, she launched a makeup line “so that people everywhere would be included,” focusing on a wide range of traditionally hard-to-match skin tones, creating formulas that work for all skin types, and pinpointing universal shades.”

On a psychology level, it is important to have representation to: educate communities on the unique experiences beyond reach, change the ideal views of how minorities are viewed by society and how they view themselves.

By Ebony Crawford
Concept: Ekta Y.

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