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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 November 2006, 11:47 GMT
A tan to die for
Women sunbathing

By Denise Winterman
BBC News Magazine

People in the UK spent 40m on acquiring fake tans last year. It is a booming market but the fashion for year-round colour is fuelling a desire to be brown at any cost - known as tanorexia.

Half the adult population of the UK say they feel healthier with a tan, according to a recent survey.

The 40m spent on sunbeds and tanning lotions in the UK last year shows just how much people are prepared to fork out to feel better about themselves.

But the desire to be brown has recently led to a new word, tanorexia, being introduced into the English language. Tanorexics, as they are known, are obsessed with having a permanent deep tan and are compelled to use tanning machines much more than is healthy.

Mandy  Sherwin
If it's three days since my last tan, I look in the mirror and think I look pale
Mandy Sherwin
The person to blame for all this is fashion designer Coco Chanel. In 1923 she was accidentally sunburned on a cruise to Cannes. Before she knew it she'd started a new trend.

Self-tanning products have been around since the 1950s. Some are dyes, others are chemicals refined from sugar cane. Sunbeds were introduced into the UK in 1977.

Mandy Sherwin, 34, is one of three million people in the UK who frequently use sunbeds. She has been using sunbeds for 20 years and estimates that she has spent 30,000 maintaining her tan.

"I need to have a tan, it has a huge effect on my mood," she says. "If it's three days since my last tan, I look in the mirror and think I look pale. People will tell me how well I look and ask if I have been away, but it doesn't matter how many times they say it, you still feel pale."

Sleeping pills

It is not only women who crave the sun-kissed look, men also go to any lengths to get an all-year tan.

Richard Devere is Blackpool's premiere illusionist. He has been giving the illusion of being permanently tanned for the past 25 years.