How Much Can You Tan Before It’s Considered Appropriation?

Tanning isn’t anything new in the realm of beauty, but in an age of cultural appropriation, opting to go “too dark” is risky business. As a woman of color, I can understand the desire to have a healthy glow year round. Heck, I’ve even done a spray tan myself during the winter months when I feel like my Black isn’t as “poppin'” as I’d like it to be. So for vanilla girls who wish to get a taste of the bronze life, I get it. However, there’s stark contrast between the transition from fair skin to olive skin and going full on ebony. Recently, Instagram was abuzz when people discovered Mine Tan’s Instagram page and the selection of bronzing solutions they offered. 

Darkest tan in town #minetanabsolute

A photo posted by @minetanbodyskin on

The Australian-based tanning solution company offers a wide range of tanning products, but it is their Colour Base Tan that has been under fire. Five shades ranging from Original to Dark Ash and Absolute can make even the fairest girl look like an authentic Nubian woman in terms of complexion. Instagrammers of Color were outraged leaving comments like “My skin color is not a trend” and referring to the product as “Black Face in a bottle.” And, after seeing the results,  we’ll let you determine whether or not you agree with the accusations.

We Tried It: Spray Tanning

According to an article, the photos initially went viral after a Swedish tanning specialist posted a photo of the results post-tan and began receiving a slew of negative comments. She responded to the commentary claiming that her aim was wasn’t “going for black, it’s going for a natural golden tan” stating,

“I’m a small tanning business in Sweden and I’ve been working with beauty for 2 years in August. It’s a difficult job because you always gonna hear different opinions, positive and negative. I’m in shock for the response I’ve gotten and may have responded and commented the wrong way because I expect Ppl to know how Spraytan works. I’ve got a lot of feedback and mostly been called ‘black face’ and racist. Ppl looks at my pic I’ve posted and without a blink assuming we desire to look black, I understand why it might seem that way and I apologise for the miss understanding my pic may have approached. Tanning is very popular these days because of the cancer factor, everybody is talking about how dangerous the sun beds is and therefore looking for a healthier option. I will never understand how “black ppl” is facing the world and it’s sad to know ppl don’t get respect just because of their looks. My color isn’t going for black it’s going for a natural golden tan when you wash it off. I never want my customers to look un natural or to dark since we usually have a lighter skin tone. You also have to understand I have ppl with dark and pale skin tone and therefore look darker or lighter. I love all skin types and that’s why I think ppl should be able to choose for what they feel good in, as long as you respect ppl around you. I understand a lot of you don’t agree with the tan industry but I don’t want you to think we want to go for a crazy black tan, we don’t! At least not all of us. I can’t speak for everyone but I personally are trying to keep it natural. Please reconsider calling ppl names, it’s not helping to communicate and trying to understand.”

The post has since been deleted.

We’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions from the ordeal, but it simply goes to show that it’s perfectly acceptable —even desirable— to look Black as long as you can wash it off; but being Black is an entirely different experience. This does beg the question, though, when it comes to spray tanning, at what point does your tan become offensive?