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a. a brownish colouring of the skin caused by the formation of the pigment melanin within the skin on exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun or a sunlamp
b. (as modifier): suntan oil



the darkening of human skin after exposure to ultraviolet radiation; such exposure causes an excess of the pigment melanin to be deposited in the surface layers.

A suntan develops gradually after repeated exposure to ultraviolet rays of low intensity. The deepest and longest-lasting tan results from prolonged exposure to sunlight; it often has an adverse effect on health (on the nervous, cardiovascular, and other systems). The extent and rapidity with which tanning takes place are not indicators of health.

Sensitivity to ultraviolet radiation varies from person to person, especially in children. Brunets with a swarthy skin tan more quickly than blonds or redheads with delicate, tender skin, which often burns on exposure to ultraviolet rays. Applying vegetable oils (nut, peach, and so forth) to skin speeds the tanning process and prevents the skin from drying out and, to some extent, from burning.

References in periodicals archive ?
"Since 1940, however, there's been a significant body of information developed on the harmful effects of the sun on human health, and a significant change has occurred in consumer perception of the purpose of suntanning products," the agency states in its current monograph.
Extreme care to avoid overexposure to the sun and avoidance of suntanning devices, whether in a tanning salon or at home, is urged.
In recent years, suntanning salons have sprung up in the United States and Europe claiming to use "safe' wavelengths of ultraviolet (UV) light.