Across the country, temperatures have nosedived and people have bundled for cover as parts of America have undergone a frigid Polar Vortex. But despite the winter chill, Donald Trump’s tan has persevered, as if he never left Mar-a-Lago.
Naturally, that’s garnered a lot of speculation over how it is that he maintains his well-documented orange skin tone, even in the dead of winter; a recent New York Times piece tackles this eternal quandary in depth. Let’s take a look at the main theories that have abounded about Trump’s skin tone.
Theory No. 1: Trump uses tanning beds.
In a Washington Post report from 2016, Trump’s old classmates said that even from a young age, he used to screw an ultraviolet light into the overhead socket in his room and lie down for a “tan.”
“We’re going to the beach,” he would apparently announce to his roommate before doing so.
Additionally, in James Comey’s memoir from last year, he speculated about Trump’s skin tone, and referred to his face as “slightly orange, with bright white half-moons under his eyes where I assumed he placed small tanning goggles.”
Former White House director of communications Omarosa Manigault also claimed in her own tell-all book that Trump used a tanning bed on a daily basis so that he “looks good” all day. Omarosa also said that the tanning bed was installed in Trump’s private residence, and that Trump even fired chief usher Aneglla Reid partly due to her mishandling of the tanning bed.
Jason Kelly, a make-up artist for the 2016 Republican National Convention, has also theorized that Trump is partial to a tanning bed, telling Marie Claire in 2017 that when he met Trump in person the previous year, “I could tell he definitely does the tanning bed — or some sort of tanning with some sort of light — because he has that abrupt contrast around his eyes where they wear those goggles.”
For what it’s worth, though, Kelly speculated that after the 2016 Republican National Convention, Trump may have taken a more natural approach to his tan, and opted instead for more natural sun rays at Mar-a-Lago.
The New York Times reports that two senior White House officials denied the existence of any tanning bed or booth, though, and notes that “three people who have spent time in the White House residence” said that no such bed or booth exists in any hidden nook or cranny.
Theory No. 2: Trump uses self-tanner.
Tina Alster, a Washington dermatologist, said that although she doesn’t treat Trump herself, a plausible theory is that he uses tanning creams and sprays to achieve his just-baked look, which frankly makes sense to us.
“He looks more orangy than he does tan,” Dr. Alster told the Times, which she said was a telltale sign that someone used self-tanner.
In a New York Times piece from last year, an undocumented Guatemalan immigrant who served as Trump’s housekeeper since 2013 discussed various personal run-ins she said she’d with the president, including one in which she says she was reprimanded for not being able to remove a mysterious orange stain from Trump’s golf shirt collar, which could indicate some kind of orange make-up or self-tanner.
In the recent report from the Times, however, a senior Trump administration official who would only speak on the basis of anonymity said that the president does not use bronzer, just a translucent powder that he applies himself before television appearances.
Theory No. 3: He, uh, just has “good genes.”
The same official who insisted that Trump does not use bronzer also told the Times that the president’s enduring tan is simply the result of “good genes.”
This is not the first time we have heard this explanation for something related to the president’s physical appearance — notably, a White House doctor also credited Trump’s “good genes” for his “excellent” physical condition.
In any case, Trump has returned to Palm Beach, where weather conditions are considerably more tan-friendly than much of the Northeast at the moment, and where he can presumably get some natural sunshine in.