The Real Reason Trump's Skin Is So Orange

Much has been made of President Donald Trump's curiously carrot-like skin tone — almost as much as has been made of his signature blond coif. No one is quite sure how he got to look the way that he does. In a timeline of Trump's appearance, Yahoo noted that in the 1980s, the businessman essentially looked like your average Caucasian male, if a bit on the pale side. By the mid 1990s, he appeared to have a naturally fair tone and some healthy, rosy color. It wasn't until approximately 2005 that Donald's mug took on the citrus shade the world had grown accustomed to by the time the 2016 election cycle rolled around.

The commander in chief's facial hues have varied slightly since he took office. Fast Company actually attempted to pinpoint his exact Pantone shade, which it concluded was Gold Flame. Okay, so we know what color Trump's epidermis is. He's orange. We get it, and the jokes are old. Now, we're going to examine why and how his skin become such a thoroughly investigated topic of conversation.

He's close friends with a tanning mogul

Is Donald Trump's skin tone the result of his friendship with self-tanning executives? Mother Jones reports that Trump is close pals with tanning mogul Steve Hilbert, who became CEO of New Sunshine, a line of tanning products, including lotions and bronzers endorsed by the Kardashians. Trump's friendship with Hilbert reportedly began around 2006, which is close to the time the world started to notice his perpetually tawny glow.

Their friendship extended to business deals: Trump promoted two of Hilbert's New Sunshine products on Celebrity Apprentice in 2011 and in 2013. Also in 2011, Melania Trump became the face of New Sunshine's caviar-based skincare line for a reported $1 million, plus unspecified perks. Though the endorsement would come into question during a lawsuit Hilbert was slapped with from his former business partner, billionaire William Menard, Hilbert and his wife, Tomisue, reportedly remained close with the Trumps and endorsed Donald for president in 2016.

It might just be bad lighting

Jason Kelly, a makeup artist who previously worked with Donald Trump, says that during the time period that he beautified the Donald and other candidates at the 2016 Republican National Convention, he didn't notice anything unusual about Trump's skin at all. "When I met him, he didn't really look orange at all," Kelly told Marie Claire, claiming that it may have been poor lighting that created the clementine-like appearance. "Not the way he did in all the previous pictures I had seen when I was doing my homework."

Kelly also noted that when he first encountered Trump, "He didn't have any liquid or cream foundation on, or spray tan actually." Kelly claims he would have known if the Republican was spray tanning. "I have an eye for it," he said, "and I can spot it a mile away."

He reportedly does his own hair and makeup

It takes work to get what we've come to appreciate as the POTUS' signature Titian glow — and reports suggest that he does that work himself. Kriss Blevens was a makeup artist for every presidential candidates in the 2016 New Hampshire primaries, except Donald Trump. She told Racked that she never saw Trump with a makeup artist or hair stylist. "Donald Trump does his own hair and makeup," she said. "He usually comes ready. He's expressing himself in his own style, and I'd never want to interfere with that. Maybe a little blotting powder." She added, "He's got his hair down to a science. He has a signature look he carries with him that is his look, and that's far better than changing it up all the time."

In January 2018, Politico reported that Trump did have a makeup artist on the federal payroll, but that artist never spruced him up, instead focusing on members of his cabinet, including Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kellyanne Conway. Republican National Convention makeup artist Jason Kelly told Harper's Bazaar that Trump rarely got his makeup done in the events leading up to his presidency. However, Kelly thinks something has changed since the campaign. Kelly now believes POTUS is partaking in tanning beds and/or spray tans, alleging Trump "wears the goggles and you can see the hyper-pigmentation around his eyes." 

He was sued by a makeup artist

Perhaps part of the reason why President Donald Trump's skin is orange has to do with the fact that he got sued by a makeup artist, making him reluctant to use professionals (and perhaps making them reluctant to work with him). According to the New York Daily News, makeup artist Jill Harth sued Trump in 1997, alleging that he sexually harassed her for years. Harth accused Trump of groping her, kissing her, and attempting to undress and rape her at his Mar-a-Lago estate in one specific 1993 incident. Trump denied all the claims and called Harth's lawsuit "meritless." 

Harth eventually withdrew her lawsuit after Trump settled a separate lawsuit with Harth's business partner. However, she claimed in October 2016 that Trump's now-infamous leaked Access Hollywood tape made her feel vindicated, because it allegedly described the type of behavior of which she'd accused him.

What to do about those 'reverse raccoon' eyes

Many have noticed that President Trump's copper skin tone isn't evenly distributed throughout his face, pointing out that he has light circles around his eyes — a look that's been referred to as "reverse raccoon" eyes. "You have to be very skilled when adding makeup on top of self-tanning ... and if you do it wrong, it looks really wrong — especially in high definition," airbrush tanning expert Dante Fitzpatrick told the New York Daily News

Apparently, it doesn't have to be this way. Experts say that exfoliation (using lemon juice and brown sugar), contouring, toning down the under-eye concealer, and getting an organic tan (instead of artificial coloring) can all help counter and prevent reverse raccoon eyes. Then again, it's plausible that POTUS is perfectly satisfied with his personal style. "I'm an extraordinarily handsome person," he told late night host Jimmy Fallon during a mock job interview.

Rosacea may affect his appearance

Perhaps Donald Trump has altered his natural skin tone because he actually has troublesome skin underneath all of that kumquat-colored coating. The president's longtime physician, Dr. Harold N. Bornstein, claims Trump uses antibiotics to treat rosacea, reported The New York Times. Rosacea is a fairly common skin condition whose symptoms include redness of the skin, eye problems (including pain and swelling), large pores, broken capillaries, dry patches, and a stinging or burning sensation, according to WebMD

If Trump's skin is red and irritated from rosacea, it's possible that cosmetics used to conceal it have the wrong undertone. Coverage levels or makeup oxidizing could also create an orange look. In fact, if Trump is using makeup, it may look flawless upon application but turn "orange-y and unnatural" as the day goes on, according to Marie Claire.

His diet could be the cause

It's possible that Donald Trump may have acquired his orange skin through eating a lot of orange foods — and we're not talking about Doritos. Carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, yams, and other foods high in the nutrient beta carotene can actually change the color of the eater's skin to an orange or golden hue, The Huffington Post reports. Experts say that a "healthy dosage of beta-carotene is six to eight milligrams a day." To turn orange — a phenomenon called carotenemia — you'd have to consume about 20 milligrams (or about three really big carrots) daily. 

This is a fascinating theory, but probably not applicable to Trump. Instead of carrot juice smoothies, POTUS is better known for his love of the McDonald's "quarter-pounder with cheese (no pickles, extra ketchup) and a fried apple pie," per Politico and for the "dozen dozen Diet Cokes he consumes each day," per The New York Times.

He might just tan the old-fashioned way

The mystery of Donald Trump's orange skin could perhaps be solved by the most basic explanation of all: sunshine. Makeup artist Jason Kelly, who's worked with the Republican party before, told Marie Claire that Trump may be absorbing UVA/UVB rays by soaking up sun on the golf course. "What I'm seeing now, truthfully, is not so much tanning bed, but maybe the sun that he's getting whenever he goes golfing — and that's been pretty frequently," Kelly said in 2017. "I think he might be getting a lot of that tan at Mar-a-Lago."

Whatever the case may be, stories about Trump's skin just won't quit. In February 2019, The New York Times actually published a piece titled "In the Pale of Winter, Trump's Tan Remains a State Secret." The story talks about "an array of hair sprays on a shelf in his remodeled bathroom," but insists that visitors have not spotted "an ounce of a self-tanning product." Others sources insist there is no covert tanning bed "in a hidden nook" at the White House. Administration officials have allegedly credited "good genes" for that year-round glow.

So there you have it, gentle reader. Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what your complexion can do for your country.