Nothing in this life can be certain, except death and taxes, Benjamin Franklin once wrote. However, there’s one more constant that can be added to that list: Donald Trump’s timeless tan.
The US president can always be relied upon to brighten up a room, quite literally, with his permanently bronzed skin, a signature beauty move that has spawned hundreds of articles, blogs and memes in recent years.
Speculation has been rife over how the businessman-turned-politician maintains his mandarin glaze, with make-up, sunbed sessions and a liberal application of fake tan all proposed as the president’s bronzing method of choice.
However, Trump’s burnished skin is, according to a White House source, all his, rather than the result of a session under the fluorescent bulbs or with a can of St Tropez.
The revelation was uncovered as a part of a New York Times investigation, as reporters sought to expose just why the president preserved such glow throughout Washington DC's wintry climes.
A senior administration official from the White House told the publication – on the condition their identity was concealed - that Trump’s tan was down to “good genes”. The source added that the president also relies on a touch of untinted powder, applied by himself, ahead of television appearances, to obliterate any unwanted shine.
Sunbeds? That's what former FBI director Comey says
The comment refutes previous rumours that Trump is a devotee of the sunbed, with former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman claiming in her 2018 memoir, Unhinged: An Insider Account of the Trump White House, that the president had a tanning contraption installed in the White House.
Former FBI director James Comey also speculated about The Apprentice star's use of sunbeds in his book A Higher Loyalty, as did make-up artist Jason Kelly, who worked with the businessman during his presidential campaign, in a 2016 interview. Indeed, a love of the UV device would explain Trump's suspiciously pale eye sockets, as necessitated by the small goggles users must wear to protect their peepers. However, the NYT investigation found no concrete evidence to support the existence of a White House sunbed or tanning booth.
Claims, though, that Trump’s complexion is down to simple genetics seem unlikely, given the entrepreneur’s previously paler skin. In the 1980s, the now-72-year-old exhibited a skin tone more readily identifiable as human, before becoming more tanned from 1990 onwards. His love of a bronzed look truly ramped up in the last few years, with Trump first debuting a Cheeto-esque hue in 2014.
All the media attention on such a minute detail begs the question, should we leave him be? After all, if it were a woman sitting in the Oval Office, we would denounce headlines attacking her beauty routine.
However, Trump regularly ridicules his naysayers for their appearance – he’s called Stormy Daniels “horseface”, branded former aide Newman a “dog” and asked of then-presidential competitor Carly Fiorina. “would anyone vote for that [face]?” So, he's well and truly setting himself up as fair game, then (and, let's be honest, if he were a woman he would have received far more flak already).
Five other things that could be maintaining Trump's tan
With that in mind, we look at five options that could be behind the president’s signature glow, if sunbeds are indeed out of the question.
Dermatologist Dr Tina Alster told the NYT that Trump could be using tanning creams or sprays to achieve his look. Indeed, that could explain the white rings under his brows, as fake tan should not be applied to close to the eyes. Let's not forget that Trump headed up the Miss Universe pageant between 1996 and 2015 – he would likely have picked up some pro bronzing tips backstage.
We’ve all been there, with the flash of a camera giving us the complexion of Casper the ghost, or a yellow-tinged bulb giving our visage a sunburnt tint. So who’s to say the president is not just the victim of unfortunate illumination (albeit, an almost daily victim from 2014 until now)?
Many girls experimenting with foundation in their formative years have been caught out by misjudged colour matching. With Trump known to use a dusting of powder, perhaps the president has also fallen foul of an oxidised base, ramping up his shade far too much.
Excessive beta carotene
We all know the president has a penchant for fast food, but perhaps he’s also got a constant craving for carrots? After all, the antioxidant beta carotene, responsible for the deep orange colour of certain vegetables, can affect the skin’s hue, if eaten in large quantities over time. However, given that cases of this are extremely rare, and given how much Trump loves a Big Mac, this theory doesn’t really have legs.
It’s well-documented that Donald Trump loves a spot of golf, with several courses listed under his portfolio. The president is also believed to have spent more than 150 days on the green since his inauguration – his most recent taking place just this weekend. So his tan could be au naturel, albeit helped along by many frequent hours teeing off.