A Healthy Tan: Darker Skin Rated More Attractive

The deeper a woman's tan the more attractive women she rated on HotorNot.com.

ByABC News
December 7, 2010, 11:55 AM

Dec. 8, 2010— -- The Jersey Shore uber-tan aesthetic may not be for everyone, but it seems that even for non-Guidettes, having a tan makes them sexier, according to a study from Emory University.

Researchers used the popular attractiveness-rating website HotorNot.com to gauge whether "hotness" scores would change when the same woman was shown with her natural complexion and then with a tan.

Using Photoshop, 45 photos of women aged 21 to 35 were doctored to look tan. The original photos and the doctored versions were posted to the site at different times. The researchers found that the darker version was twice as likely to be rated as more attractive.

Of course, tan enthusiasts would say that you don't need science to figure that one out.

"When I look in the mirror I feel more attractive when I'm darker, like my face is prettier. It's 100 percent a confidence boost for me," says Lauren Kafka, 31, of Miami, who uses a tanning bed three times a week to keep up her golden glow.

Kafka is aware of the skin cancer risks associated with her tanning bed habit, but she says the risk is worth it. "I wouldn't want a relative or someone I cared about to do it, but I'm willing to take the risk for myself," she says.

Campaigns by health organizations like the American Academy of Dermatology to warn the public about the skin cancer risks of tanning with have had limited success. About 28 million Americans still frequent tanning booths each year and tanning-bed use among teens has only been growing.

"People think that tanned individuals are more attractive, healthier looking, and it's incredibly difficult to get someone not to do something that perceive as providing them with a positive perception. It was the same thing with smoking. Especially younger people have a hard time seeing themselves as getting older and having to deal with these risks," says Dr. Audrey Kunin, dermatologist and founder of DERMADoctor Inc.