Naturally, everyone desires to look tan because it makes us feel better about ourselves and our appearance. We look healthier, skinnier, and overall just less pale. Besides the obviousness of race making a person darker or lighter, why is it that some people are just so much tanner than others?
After researching this topic I came across a website providing information about sun exposure to the skin. Some people have skin that simply does not tan and just burns when exposed to the sun, some have skin that takes three hours to tan to get to the same level of someone that might just sit in the sun for twenty minutes. The color we get on our skin when it is in the sunlight whether it be a golden brown or just straight red is caused by different types of UV light that has made it past the ozone layer to our skin. Every person has melanin in their bodies, which is produced by our cells and it absorbs all UV light and transform it to heat in our bodies. This protects us from having damage to our cells. So how does the tan vary from person to person? Each body has a different amount of melanin, usually naturally darker skinned people have more melanin allowing them to be protected from the UV rays from the sun compared to paler people who have much less melanin creating them to burn with the small amount of protection. Pale people tend to burn with the lack of protection from their cells so when the UV rays hit your skin it confuses the DNA making it go through a process called apoptosis in which the cells die and in reaction to that blood goes to that area, making the skin turn red and burnt. When the skin is burnt badly, blisters can form in its way to protect the skin with an extra layer. If a tan forms after a burn (which can most likely occur) it is because the lower layers of the skin begin to make more melanin in response to to light on the skin.
There can be some confounding variables with the bodies process of tanning such as sun block and tanning oil being used. Sun block has specific ingredients in it like zinc oxide and titanium oxide that reflects the UV light from the sun blocking it from getting to our cells. Tanning oil on the other hand, depending on the brand produces the opposite effect for the skin. The point of applying tanning oil is to produce extra melanin in our skin, which is the main ingredient in most of these oils. There are also tanning oils with SPF ( sun protection factor) in it, which is beneficial if you are trying to get tan but not burnt. The higher the SPF in sun block and tanning oils is the more protection the cells in our bodies get from the UV light rays in the sun. Overtime, your body can technically build up melatonin from small doses of sunlight triggering the cells.