In 1922, the Tidal Basin bathing beach in Washington, D.C., was open only to whites. Three years later, Congress banned swimming there due to concerns about pollution and pressure from African Americans to open a beach for their use.
Summer is for sun seekers in search of a tan, whether stretched out on a beach or a patch of green field.
Credit (or blame) fashion designer Coco Chanel for the trend. Chanel reportedly popularized the bronzed look in 1923, when she lingered too long in the sun on a Mediterranean cruise. Whether or not a famous French sunburn inspired the switch from pallor to bronze, tanning booths—called “solariums”—began to pop up across beaches in the 1920s.
Though sunlight does promote the production of Vitamin D, a caution is in order. Getting too much sun can cause skin damage that leads to cancer. Which doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t head for the beach; just don’t forget your sunscreen. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends putting on broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher fifteen minutes before you go outside. And don’t forget to reapply the screen every two hours or after swimming.
This article originally published on August 1, 2015. It has been updated.