Mr Kellogg, the Corn Flakes man developed the very first sunbed back in 1891. He said that it was good for health. Now, over 100 years later, we Brits are still fascinated - and possibly addicted to sunbeds.

Shivering in a miserable British summer, many of us long to get away to somewhere warm. The thought of arriving in a sunny climate like Spain or France and looking as white as a sheet prompts many people to head for a sunbed before they go on holiday.

Even with The International Agency for Research on Cancer telling people that tanning is bad for them, people still want to look nut brown instead of pasty white. They feel healthier, and that’s important to them.

In Britain the average cost of a 12-minute tan on a sunbed is £12. Some packages may be as low as 50p a session. That does not mean that you must use the bed for that length of time. You will more than likely be burnt to a crisp if you stayed that long. Moderation is the key.

Most tanning salons will not allow people under 16 to tan, some will with parental permission. It is also not advisable to tan every day. Having a day or two off is the ideal way to tan.

In Victorian times a tanned skin was a sign of poverty, with only the rich being able to boast milky white skins. Labourers had dark, tanned skins. Victorian ladies were as pale as pale could be.

The tradition of returning from a holiday with a tan is often blamed on Coco Chanel who – normally of a milky white complexion – returned from a vacation a golden bronze. She admitted to having spent far too long in the sun – and Brits fell in love with tanning!

Right now, in the UK, there are over 8,000 tanning salons, although Kathy Banks of the Sunbed Association says that this merely as estimate, there may well be many more. Take a walk down any High Street and you will see a tanning salon. Some salons are unmanned, allowing the client to enter by using a swipe card.

Getting back to Mr Kellogg, his first ‘incandescent light bath’ was constructed in 1891 with even royalty using his invention to relieve gout.

A Danish physician, Niels R. Finsen opened his Institute of Photography in Copenhagen. In 1921, the London Hospital in Whitechapel installed some of his lights (later called Finsen lights) to treat certain skin conditions, for which Finsen won a Noble Peace Prize in Medicine.

So, in fact, the first sunbeds were used for medical purposes rather than fashion. The first tanned face only appeared in Vogue in 1927.

Whatever the origins were, Brits embrace a deep, rich tan. Some people even admit that they only go on holiday to get a tan. Coming back without a tan is almost a waste of a holiday. Cancer Research UK says that the risks of cancer from UV rays are being ignored by tanners, who will do whatever they can to ensure that they can visit a sunbed.

A manager of a tanning salon suggested that tanning – like many other disputable issues – is all about responsibility.

Why does it feel so good to tan?

Perhaps is isn’t all about the sunbed. Maybe it’s about the idea that it gives – warm sun, blue skies, sun on your face, away from work and responsibilities. Relaxing on a beach somewhere..

We should not forget that the sun is the source of life on the planet. It would be a shame to think that the thing that gives us life should be regarded as something to avoid at all costs.   

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