This section is from the book "The Hygienic System: Fasting And Sun Bathing", by Herbert M. Shelton. Also available from Amazon: The Hygienic System Vol III Fasting and Sun Bathing.
Articles on sunbathing which appear in popular magazines and newspapers tend to emphasize the dangers of sunbathing on the one hand, and the "virtues" of sun-tan lotions, on the other hand. Rarely do they ever stress the great benefits to be derived from sunning. It is possible to overdo sunbathing, even after one has built up a heavy layer of pigment in the skin, so that burning no longer occurs after the most prolonged exposure. Drying and harshness of the skin and general enervation result from such over-exposure.
The injurious results of excessive sunbathing are not to be prevented by the use of lotions, oils, etc. If they prevent the thickening and drying of the skin, if they prevent sunburn, they do not prevent the enervation that results from over-sunning. To avoid the harshness of the skin and the enervation that result from over-sunning, it is only necessary to avoid undue exposure to the sun. If the lotions afforded the "protection" that they are claimed to provide, they would also prevent tanning and would at the same time deprive the bather of the benefits of sunbathing.
A uniform tan is achieved by exposing the body uniformly to the sun. Lotions cannot provide a uniform tan. In a broad general sense all of these lotions are frauds, none of them are ever necessary, and many of them are actually harmful. I unqualifiedly condemn the use of any "tan-without-burn" preparations, as well as the use of olive oil on the skin in sunbathing. "Suntan stimulants" and make-believe tan are merely commercial products. Many of these things are endorsed by men and organizations that are supposed to know, but I can find no need for them and no value in them. It is not mere tanning that we seek, but the total hygienic value of the sun upon all tissues of the body.