from the first half of the 20th century Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel promoted a tanned skin
Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel
1883 - 1971
The end of the 19th century marked the beginning of a period in which numerous
inventions, and discoveries caused a significant change in medical insights. A
change of view on hygiene and the self-healing capabilities of nature resulted in an
ever-increasing popularity of treatments by natural remedies while the introduction of
electricity offered the opportunities to assist nature were necessary. Well known are
the papers and sanatoria of Friedrich Eduard Bilz, according who a combination of
treatments with sun-, water- and fresh air formed a remedy against a diversity of
diseases. But also in medical science an aimed
exposure to natural sunshine (helio therapy) was
accepted as an effective method of treatment for
diseases like bone- and lung tuberculosis and
rachitis or rickets. The treatments were carried out
in sanatoria on the beach or in the mountains and
step by step the sun-tanned face lost his image of
poverty. When finally the leading fashion designer
Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel in 1926 returned from a
holiday with an obvious tanned skin, the turnaround
was complete and men and women of all classes of
society indulged themselves with sun bathing. In the
years before WWII the interest in natural sunlight
reached a temporary climax in the form of sun
bathing, open-air schools and UV transparent
windows. In the second half of the 20th century the
trend was towards frequent and long lasting sun
bathing, completed with an intensive artificial
ultraviolet treatment during the winter period. When
it became clear however that an excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation also
contained a serious risk for developing skin cancer, the hype ceased somewhat.