Get a better tan from carrots

U. NOTTINGHAM (UK) — Getting a golden glow maybe as simple—and healthy—as eating more carrots and tomatoes.

Researchers have found fruits and vegetables that contain carotenoids give skin a tan-like glow. The study, reported in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, showed that, when given a choice, participants preferred the carotenoid skin color over suntanned skin.

“If you want a healthier and more attractive skin color, you are better off eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables than lying in the sun,” says Ian Stephen, study leader and a researcher at the University of Nottingham. Stephen conducted the study as part of his PhD at the University of St. Andrews and Bristol University.

Carotenoids are antioxidants that help soak up damaging compounds produced by the stresses and strains of everyday living, especially when the body is combating disease. Responsible for the red coloring in fruit and vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes, carotenoids are important for immune and reproductive systems.

Stephen suggests that the study is important because evolution would favor individuals who choose to form alliances or mate with healthier individuals over unhealthy individuals.

“This is something we share with many other species,” says David Perrett, a professor and director of the Perception Lab at the University of St. Andrews. “For example, the bright yellow beaks and feathers of many birds can be thought of as adverts showing how healthy a male bird is. What’s more, females of these species prefer to mate with brighter, more colored males. But this is the first study in which this has been demonstrated in humans.”

While this study describes work in Caucasian faces, the paper also describes a study that suggests the effect may exist cross culturally, since similar preferences for skin yellowness were found in an African population.

The work was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Unilever Research.

More news from the University of Nottingham: www.nottingham.ac.uk/news

chat8 Comments


  1. Karen

    What a sensational title for this article. Note that this set of pictures portrays a digital simulation (see exact hair strands over ears).

  2. Chris

    And in a separate article I just read, the amount of carrots you actually have to eat in a given time period to make a noticeable change in your skin color is so rediculously high that eating more vegetables (for this purpose) is completely pointless.

  3. Sharon

    @Chris. Thanks for that clarification because the comment I “was” going to leave here was asking… And how much must we consume for a noticeable difference? And your answer is pretty much what I expected to hear.

  4. bugs

    @ chris – get yourself a juicer, you can be black in no time.

  5. Marketa

    Carotenoids are also fat soluble substance, which means would have to eat them with some kind of fat in order for your body to successfully absorb them. This is unfortunately not a well known fact, probably because of all the fat bias going on in media. Eating plain carrots and tomatoes won’t raise your vitamin A levels. So them in salad with dressing, steamed with a little butter, roasted with a little oil, etc. You also have to be careful with supplements as carotenoids can reach toxic levels in your body, same way you can overdose on iron. I would not recommend this approach to skin conditioning to anybody. It is not only nearly impossible, but also potentially dangerous.

  6. Troy

    This is so true. I am an African American male. Some years ago I began drinking carrot juice 5 -days a week (took a daily trip to the juice store near my job in downtown San Francisco). After about a month, I remember going to work on a Monday and a female co-worker told me that something was different about me. Then she said, “I know what it is, your skin is GLOWING like a pregnant woman.” When I looked at myself in a mirror, I realized my complection had changed from a dark brown to near a copper tone like a penny. In my mind, I looked like I was from some exotic island. Until this article, I didn’t know it was the carrots, because at the same time I began drinking the carrot juice, I had started drinking lots of water every day. I haven’t drank carrot juice in years, but now I am going to start and try to get the glowing skin again over the next month.

  7. rozafa

    wow I’m gonna try it 😀

  8. Frank

    After reading this article, I changed my routine to juice 5-6 carrots + 1 beet (or sweet potato) every morning, mixed with 2% milk. What a difference! I don’t remember how long it was before the compliments started, but I’ve been getting them. “Glowing.”

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