Moderate exposure to the sun has a beneficial impact, including the production of vitamin D by the body; but excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays has detrimental health effects, including possible sunburn and even skin cancer. To avoid sunburn, most people apply suitable sunscreen to skin exposed to the sun, but others use oils to accelerate the tanning process.
Some people tan or sunburn more easily than others. This may be the result of different skin types and natural skin color, and these may be as a result of genetics.
The term "tanning" has a cultural origin, arising from the color tan. Its origin lays in the Western culture of Europe when it became fashionable for young white ladies to seek a less pale complexion (see Cultural history below).