Are tan lines sexy? [Reasons Explained]

Sami S
Sami S

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Summer: To so many of us, it means warm weather, blue skies, and sunshine.

If you’re lucky, it also means a vacation to a sandy beach, or at the very least lying outside in the grass to catch some rays.

This, in turn, leads to one of the best parts about the summer – tanning. But while tan skin is an ideal that many strive for, tan lines can often break the continuous color. Are tan lines sexy within their right? If they are, then why do guys find tan lines attractive?

Are tan lines sexy? 

Yes! Tans are considered to be more attractive. Men tend to find women more attractive when they have a tan while women often believe that a tan will make them more attractive.

When shown pictures of models with tans and those without, the women interviewed agreed that those with tans were more attractive than the paler models. 

Why do guys like tan lines?

Western, or more accurately, white guys, like tan lines because of the contrast it creates on a woman’s body.

It has been proven that many men see tan women as being more beautiful, and studies have shown that they are more likely to want to please a woman with tan skin than a woman with paler skin.

On a deeper level, men may associate a tan with health or that a woman is healthier because she spends more time outside or exercises. In turn, men may subconsciously view these women as healthier, fitter, and more likely to make better mothers. 

Guys also like tan lines because they tend to associate tan skin with femininity – so many female movie stars, models, and presenters on TV have tanned skin that, whether they realize it or not, they associate women with tan skin as being more desirable and more feminine.

Do guys prefer tan or pale skin?

While individual guys have their preferences, and we can’t speak for everyone, generally Western guys prefer tan skin.

There are several potential reasons for this. Guys with paler skin prefer women with tans as it is viewed as more attractive.

Psychologically, many of us have been taught to believe that tan skin is a sign of healthy skin, despite the dangers associated with both natural tanning and the use of UV tanning beds – mainly, that it highly increases your risk of developing skin cancer later in life.

However, despite this, the idea of tan skin as being healthy persists within our culture from the 20th-century view of tans as healthy, perhaps for some of the fitness reasons mentioned above.

Additionally, pale skin has long been associated with ill health and looking ‘sickly’, which may add to the predisposition towards tan skin.

As well as improved physical health, tan skin is also associated with improved mental health, perhaps as endorphins gained from exercise, which is traditionally done outside, are key to combatting mental health issues such as stress and depression. 

Another reason why guys may prefer tan skin over pale skin is that pale skin tends to age quicker than darker skin – white people show evidence of wrinkles, dark spots, and other aging signs before people of color.

However, being more attracted to someone with tan skin is different from being attracted to someone with a darker skin tone – as many men have been found to agree that a light tan is preferable to a darker tan, regardless of skin tone. 

How Tanning Is Perceived In Different Cultures

Whatever you think of tanning, it is important to remember that different cultures have different approaches to tanning and tanned skin.

Western culture promotes tan skin and tanning as attractive and desirable, perhaps partly because for many parts of North America and Europe, a tan indicates a holiday to somewhere hot and sunny, which for many requires money, so some associate tans with having wealth.

However, many Asian cultures, for example, promote paler, porcelain skin as being the epitome of beauty, and women are sold lightening creams and encouraged to shade their skin as much as possible for a whiter complexion.

Whether this is rooted in colonialist racism from years of European control or influence is difficult to say, but it is an interesting difference in culture nonetheless. 

How long do tan lines last?

On average, natural tan lines last between 7-10 days, after which point the skin naturally begins its exfoliation and regeneration process and both the tan and the resulting tan lines begin to fade. Some tans can last up to 8 weeks, depending on the extent of the tan.

Exfoliating skin regularly will cause a suntan to fade quicker, while those choosing to use fake tan to get a glow while avoiding skin damage should reapply every week to 10 days. Using self-tan can also be used to extend the life of a natural tan by a few more days or weeks. Spray tan options typically need redoing every 9 to 12 days. 


Overall, tan lines are sexy, and guys find tan skin and tan lines attractive for many reasons.

Typically, western white guys prefer women with lightly tanned skin, as this makes them more attractive, and often makes them look younger.

Many guys see tan skin as healthier, indicating both better physical and mental health from time spent outside exercising, and therefore more desirable since pale skin has a long association with sickliness and ill health.

How much of this view on tan skin as attractive is fueled by the media portrayal of actresses and models as almost all being tanned is not clear, but it is certainly true that such opinions on women’s tan skin are very much a western, predominantly white viewpoint.

Many Asian countries still believe in and promote paler skin as being more attractive, selling products designed to lighten the skin rather than tan it. However, tan lines are considered sexy in many parts of the world, particularly in western culture, and guys value tan girls over pale ones as more attractive overall.