State and Federal Regulations
In addition to various state and local tanning regulations, the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade
Commission (FTC) share the responsibility of regulating sunlamps
and tanning devices. The FDA typically enforces regulations that
deal with the labeling and manufacturing of tanning devices;
the FTC investigates false, misleading and deceptive advertising
claims about the devices. When these agencies determine that a
label on a tanning unit does not comply with the regulations or
that advertisements are not truthful, they have the authority to
take corrective action. Ultimately, the FDA can remove products
from the marketplace.
THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION
Performance Standards For Sunlamps
If the proper procedures are not followed, indoor tanning can have negative
consequences. Because of this, the FDA developed stringent rules and regulations that
govern the manufacturing and use of devices for indoor tanning.
The initial performance standard for sunlamp products (including tanning units)
published in the Federal Register became effective for all tanning devices on May 7,
1980. The regulation was designed primarily to promote the safety of home sunlamps.
It was developed after a long period of both public and industry commentary.
When the indoor tanning industry began to boom, the FDA revisited its regulations
by completing a further investigation on the use of indoor tanning devices. The FDA
became concerned with the potential for injury, since use of the products had resulted
in several injuries, ranging from “severe sunburn” from overexposure to the ultraviolet
radiation to cuts from broken lamps.
It became apparent that additional safety precautions were needed beyond those
required by the standard. Therefore, the standard was amended in 1985; the new version
became applicable for all tanning devices manufactured on or after Sept. 8, 1986. All sunlamp products must have a warning label, an accurate timer, an emergency stop control, and include an exposure schedule and protective goggles. To review the Performance Standard for Sunlamp and Sunlamp Product, 21 CFR 1040.20 - click here
Salon owners need to remember that if any products pose a risk to the health of users,
the FDA is prepared and authorized to take regulatory action. Safety may be enforced
through mandatory or voluntary recalls, injunctions, and imposition of fines or seizure
of the products.
Although these regulations were written specifically for manufacturers, salon owners
and operators should be familiar with the rules to help them run a secure and more
comfortable salon. Knowledge of the regulations also will prove beneficial when
educating salon employees and customers.
To view the FDA Laws, Regulations and Standards pertaining to tanning click here
THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
Tanning salon owners and operators are governed by laws that are based at the local,
state and federal levels. When discussing federal guidelines, most people realize
the FDA is a governing body. Its guidelines typically deal with the recommended
manufacturing, labeling and usage of tanning equipment. However, when considering
federal rules, all tanning facility owners and operators also fall under additional
restrictions enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The FTC enforces a variety of federal antitrust and consumer protection laws. Although
some may argue this point, the FTC’s goal is to ensure that the nation’s markets
function competitively and are vigorous, efficient and free of undue restrictions.
How the Commission most affects tanning facilities is through its objective to
eliminate acts or practices that are unfair or deceptive. According to the Commission,
“Efforts are directed toward stopping actions that threaten consumers’ opportunities to
make informed choices.”
What truth-in-advertising rules apply to advertisers? Under the Federal Trade Commission Act:
1. Advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive;
2. Advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims; and
3. Advertisers cannot be unfair.
Additional laws even apply to ads for specialized products such as consumer leases,
credit, 900 telephone numbers and products sold through mail order or telephone
sales. In addition to FTC guidelines, all states have consumer protection laws that
govern ads running in that state.
According to the FTC, here are some claims that should not be made regarding
“You can achieve a deep year-round tan with safe ultraviolet light.”
“No harsh glare, so no goggles or eye protection is necessary.”
“Tan without the harmful side effects associated with natural sunlight.”
“No danger in exposure to ultraviolet light.”
“Our tanning beds help relieve the pain and discomfort of psoriasis.”
What Makes An Ad Deceptive?
According to the FTC’s Deceptive Policy Statement, an ad is deceptive if it contains a
statement—or omits information—that:
1. Is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances; and
2. Is “material”—that is, important to consumer’s decision to buy or use the
product being offered for sale?
The FTC looks at both expressed and implied claims. An expressed claim is literally
made in the ad. For example, “Our tanning beds prevent osteoporosis” is an expressed
claim that your beds prevent osteoporosis. An implied claim is one that is made
indirectly. “Our tanning beds create vitamin D that prevents osteoporosis” contains
an implied claim that your beds will prevent osteoporosis. Although your ad may not
say that your beds prevent osteoporosis, it would be reasonable for a consumer to
conclude from this statement that your beds do prevent osteoporosis.
What You Can Say
Avoiding any and all claims that relate directly or indirectly to any healthful benefit of
indoor tanning—or regarding the safety of tanning—is the most prudent thing a salon
owner can do. Sometimes finding the correct way to promote the positive aspects of
indoor tanning can at first be challenging. However, professional tanning salons across
the country have many positive factors that can be promoted without crossing the line
of health and safety. Comfort, control, convenience, service and cleanliness are just a
few features that are always acceptable in promoting any tanning facility. Below are a
few examples that are acceptable in tanning advertising:
“Indoor tanning offers a predictable tanning environment controlled by timers
that ensure the accuracy of your tanning session.”
“You can achieve a beautiful year-round tan in the comfortable setting of our
“Our staff will evaluate your tanning potential using a skin typing chart that
determines the most productive tanning session available.”
“Achieve that beautiful golden tan at our salon rain or shine.”
These are just a few suitable statements that are often made in salons’ advertisements
across the country. Other factors to consider are price, location, hours of operation,
exciting new equipment, selections of tanning products and the level of knowledge
your staff has about tanning.
If you have questions about claims you can make in your advertising, contact the
Federal Trade Commission at (877) FTC-HELP or online at www.ftc.gov.
Please contact your local government regarding your specific state regulations.