Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 3.5 million skin cancers in more than 2 million people are diagnosed annually. When it comes to preventing skin cancer, the obvious solution is applying and reapplying sunscreen throughout each day, all year round. But while sunscreen is an effective way of protecting skin from cancer, it doesn’t give skin a healthy looking glow, which is one of the main reasons sun-worshippers choose to sunbathe.
Achieving a radiant appearance without exposing skin to the damaging rays of the sun or a UV tanning booth is why sunless tanning is one of the fastest growing segments in the beauty industry. A 2010 study published in the Archives of Dermatology found that women who were given sunless tanners along with skin cancer education were 33 percent less likely to sunbathe to develop a tan, compared to only 10 percent of those who were not given sunless tanners. In addition to educating clients on the prevalence and dangers of skin cancer, it is important to make them aware that sunless tanners should not replace sunscreen even though the active
ingredient in sunless tanners, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), offers minimal sun protection.
Sunless tanning has come a long way in recent years with the introduction of more modern technologies and a wider array of options available. It’s also a service that spa-goers have come to expect to see on the menu at most spas and salons, which is why it is also a very competitive segment in the beauty industry. In order to attract new clients and retain current clients, spas are introducing special packages, offerings, and promotions as incentives. “Sunless tanning is one of the fastest growing services in the spa industry, because the treatment is quick, easy, and highly profitable,” says Julie Nostrand, founder of South Seas Skin Care. “It is important to offer a sunless tanning option, not only for clients to preserve their skin but to also offer additional services for better retention.”
Skin Palette (Philadelphia), an exclusive airbrush studio, has found success focusing solely on sunless tanning. “We have seen firsthand the dangers from the sun,” says co-owner Julie Dorenbos. “Many of our clients are skin cancer survivors, and we are proud to be able to provide them with a healthy alternative. We see a lot of repeat business, referrals, and loyalty, because our clients know how much we care about them and their skin.” The Skin Palette’s most popular service is its custom-blended airbrush formulas using Sunless’s Evolv heat-infused airbrush-tanning equipment and formulas. The studio also offers several packages for its clients, including the Skin is in Membership ($175 per month), which includes two Sunless airbrush tans, three hydration station sessions, 12 photo rejuvenation sessions, and a 10-percent discount on retail products per month.
Offering sunless tanning services as part of a package has also worked for I-Tan Sun, Spray, Spa (multiple locations in San Diego). At I-Tan, clients can join the I-Club ($59.95 per month), which includes the client’s choice of unlimited sun, spray, or spa services using Sunless equipment and products. At Sun Kissed (Gainesville, TX), clients can choose from a variety of sunless tanning pack- age options using Norvell equipment and products, including five tans of the client’s choice for $99 (a savings of up to $26) or 10 tans of choice for $199 (a savings of up to $51). Sunless tanning options include the Full Body Tan ($20), which applies a light color and rinses off in eight hours; the Express Tan ($25), which rinses off in three to five hours; Black Out ($25), which is for clients who desire a dark cocoa color; Brown Sugar ($25), which is a custom blend; Double Dark ($25), which is an extra dark color; and Norvell Clear ($25), which goes on clear and dries quickly. “Offering sunless sessions in a bundled deal is always a hit, because the price per tan is lower,” says Lurdes Medina, owner of Bella Sol Tanning Salon (Pasadena, CA). “Wording it so it sounds as if the client is receiving a free sunless session always sells. Everyone likes the sound of the word ‘free.’”
A la carte services are also popular among clients, as they allow them to choose certain areas of the body to focus on, usually at a lower price point than a full-body tan. Sun Kissed, for example, offers a Legs Only ($10) option, which colors from the panty line down to the feet. Similarly, Bella Sol Salon offers clients the opportunity to choose to tan just the lower body, upper body, or face. SiSpa at Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa (Singer Island Riviera Beach, FL) offers mini spray tans as a complimentary service throughout the year to get clients to book additional sunless treatments. “During peak season, we offer clients complimentary mini spray tans on either the legs, arms, or face to offer a taste of the glow,” says spa director Natalee Lynch. “That encourages them to book the full experience, so they go home looking like they just visited the beach.”
Sunless tanning can also be combined with other popular spa services to introduce clients to the benefits of sunless tanning. SiSpa offers Sun ‘n Sand ($120), which includes a 25-minute body exfoliation, a 25-minute South Seas spray tan, and a vitamin D-infused smoothie. In addition, Salon AKS (New York City) boasts the Perfect Legs Pedicure ($95, 75 minutes), which includes a pedicure and a bronzing treatment using St. Tropez exfoliating scrub and non-streak bronzing mousse. The tan lasts for four days and is time-released so it gets darker as time goes on. “We find guests love the Perfect Legs Pedi- cure when preparing for a vacation or an event where they don’t want to wear stockings or high boots,” says Susanna Romano, co-founder of Salon AKS. “This treatment doesn’t take long, and the guest leaves with perfect toes and bronzed legs for any occasion.”
Whether a la carte or bundle packages, sunless tanning has proven to be an effective and popular way for clients to achieve a radiant look all year without worrying about UV damage. That’s why some even consider sunless tanning to be an anti-aging treatment. “We promote beauty and anti-aging with our South Seas Airbrush Sunless Tanning session treatment, as it keeps the skintone looking bronzed while avoiding damaging the skin from the sun’s harmful rays, which can cause skin cancer,” says Taylor Fields, spa manager at The Spa at Ross Bridge at Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa (Birmingham, AL).
Many spas and tanning salons have turned to social media sites like Facebook and Yelp, as well as email, to help get the word out to clients about sunless tanning specials to attract new and repeat clients. Often all it takes is an intriguing offer to get a client through the door, and if the client leaves satisfied, he or she is likely to return. “There is a large demand for sunless tanning services, and if spas do not offer it, someone else around them will,” says Veronique Munro, founder and CEO of Infinity Sun. “Sunless tanning is now being offered in different types of businesses, from hair salons, tanning salons, nail salons, day spas, and fitness centers, as well as mobile services, so how a company positions themselves through their marketing and promotions can be the determining factor as to whether or not they get their sunless business.”