Physical Traits

Tanning Genetic Testing

Could your DNA reveal your Tanning? Upload raw DNA data to learn more about yourself and genomics science.

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Is The Tanning Ability Genetic?

Is Tanning Genetic?

Everyone's out for that perfect tan, but for some, being out in the sun is synonymous to redness and pain for the coming days. If you've ever spent the day at the beach with a friend and ended up with a terrible burn while they became beautifully bronzed, you may be asking, “Why can some people not tan?” You may keep using the same products your friends do and still end up burned while they are beautifully tanned. Perhaps you'll give up on tanning altogether, declaring, “I don’t tan I burn!”

Your friends may keep suggesting different techniques to get a great tan without burning, but the truth may be that you really can't tan the way other people can. Is tanning genetic? Your tanning ability might not be determined by the brightness of the sun or the length of time you spend in it. Instead, it could boil down to tanning genetics. Some people have a perfect tanning gene, while others may never get the tan they want no matter how hard they try.

Whether your skin tans or burns after sun exposure depends on your level of melanin pigmentation (shown by how dark your skin is or can get). More melanin is good: your DNA is protected from the sun's harmful UV rays and, in return, you get the summer glow worthy of envy. Tanning ability is highly variable across the population (even among people of the same ethnicity), and is about 45% heritable.

You can't necessarily answer the question, “Why can some people not tan?” just by looking at race or ethnicity. While people with darker skin do typically tan better than those with more fair skin, so much diversity within an ethnic group makes the question, “Is tanning genetic?” more complicated than skin tone or race.

One genome-wide association study with data from close to 180,000 Europeans found 20 gene loci associated with one's ability to tan, 6 of which confirm the findings in previous literature. Interestingly, investigators note that many of the gene loci were previously reported to influence the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer (which is the most common cancer in the UK and elsewhere as well). 

If you have a family history of burning instead of tanning, it may be better to check out a spray tan option. Raw tanning, or using a spray instead of the heat of the sun or a tanning bed, is a much safer alternative for people who are sensitive to the sun. 

To learn more about the study, check out the following link:

Are your genes aiding you in your quest for the perfect tan, or will you more likely feel the (sun)burn? Comprehensive DNA analysis of your DNA test results might help to shed some light on your tanning ability. Genetic DNA testing might be the only way to prove whether you can or can’t tan how you want to, and you can have those answers today by uploading DNA test results on Genomelink!

Check out Genomelink! (Regardless of your genetic predisposition, don't forget to apply sunscreen!)

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