Shedding New Light on Sunless Profits
Imagine this dilemma: One of your customers is leaving on a cruise in
less than one week, and she has been so busy that she has not had time
to tan. What to do? Being the knowledgeable salon professional, have the
perfect solution--suggest sunless tanners.
Afraid that offering a sunless tanner is counterproductive to selling
indoor tanning? Think again. What better way to secure customer confidence
than by showing them how to even out those unsightly pressure points and
uneven tan lines? You already offer a complete line of skincare products
to keep your customers' skin moisturized and provide darker, more beautiful
tans. So round out that skincare promotion by offering sunless tanners
and you will find it will shed new light on your profits.
Sunless Tanning, Coming Around Again
Self-tanners have gained popularity in the past few years for a number
of reasons. Certain members of the medical community’s condemnation
of UV light have caused some sun worshippers to seek refuge indoors. And
while indoor tanning offers a controlled environment and all the comforts
one could want, the media's seasonal industry bashing has caused some
consumers to consider alternatives to tanning beds.
Another reason self-tanners are gaining favor is the ease of application
and upkeep. In the past, a lot of people thought self-tanners were messy
and difficult to apply. Today, self-tanner application has been refined
and products have gained a respectable place in industry.
In addition, many salon owners are noticing a trend toward their clients
covering their faces with towels to avoid premature wrinkling. Sunless
tanners are the perfect remedies for those telltale towel lines on their
faces and necks. In addition, it is a great product for those people who
have problems tanning or for those difficult areas to tan such as the
feet and hands. Sunless tanners also can be used to fill in pressure points
and even out tan lines. And, for some fair skin people, sunless tanners
can be used to augment the tanning process.
How Sunless WorksThe Academic Press Dictionary of Science and Technology
defines dihydroxyacetone like so: "CH2HOCOCH2OH, a colorless, hygroscopic,
crystalline powder; soluble in water and alcohol; melts at 80ºC;
used as an intermediate and in fungicides and cosmetics."
The tanning industry recognizes dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, as the colorless
sugar that makes the magic happen in the self-tanning process. DHA reacts
with skin proteins, including amino acids, in the outermost layer of skin.
The reaction develops brown skin coloring that looks very similar to a
Skin coloration takes anywhere from two to four hours and lasts three
to five days--depending on skin type and the DHA concentration in the
lotion. The "tan" fades as the dead layers of skin slough off,
just as in normal tanning.
DHA was discovered as a skin-coloring agent in the 1920s and appeared
commercially in the 1960s, explains Clara Pettitt on her Web site, Sunless.com.
Coppertone was the first to sell an over-the-counter product, Quick Tan,
and unfortunately QT's streaks, splotches and orange skin tints quickly
encapsulated everything viewed as negative about sunless tanning.
That was then.
In the 1970s, the Food and Drug Administration added DHA to its list
of approved cosmetic ingredients. Afterward, cosmetic companies began
to refine the process to ditch the orange skin coloration for a more healthy-looking
This is now.
As the refining process evolves, companies continue to produce a higher
quality, more predictable DHA, Pettitt concludes. The result is a more
natural-looking brown tan that mimics the real thing.
“UV-Free” Product Uses
The mimic part--the golden, tanned look without the UV exposure--will
be what sells certain customers on sunless. Those who choose not to use
UV tanning devices can still get the desired healthy-looking glow of a
Even the American Academy of Dermatology touts the popularity of self-tanners.
"Significant improvements have been made in the formulas of self-tanners
in recent years, making them easier to use with better results,"
said Stanley B. Levy, M.D., speaking at the AAD's 2000 annual meeting.
Salon employees who recognize this can boost their profits with a tailor-made
pitch. Attentive tanning professionals find their customers use sunless
products for a number of special purposes:
- As a quick fix for tanners pressed for time.
- As a tanning booster in between sessions. To augment a tan for delicate
or hard-to-tan areas such as faces, hands and feet.
- To even out any pressure points, tan lines or uneven spots on the
body left from indoor tanning.
As sunless-tanning technology improves and education about it spreads
through the industry, salon owners are beginning to understand the symbiotic
relationship between salons and sunless. By offering these products, including
self-tanners and bronzers, salons can satisfy yet another group of potential
customers. They can build upon the trust of their existing tanners and
become an authority for all their skincare needs. When marketed correctly,
sunless products can be an excellent ancillary profit center. Besides,
it's becoming a sad fact in this industry that if a salon doesn't carry
sunless, that salon might lose business to local drug stores or department
stores that do. Worse still, those customers might not come back.
The history of sunless is rather splotchy, unfortunately, which is why
many people view the product negatively--even though technology has improved
to the point that those problems no longer are an issue. There's a good
chance that an uninformed customer only has heard of early generations
of sunless: the streaks, the splotches, the uneven application, the orange
tint left on the skin. It's not exactly the description of an ideal situation,
or an ideal tan, and it's no wonder why a customer might be wary of trying
Educating customers about sunless products is the first step in getting
them to buy. In fact, informed salon owners may find sunless products
to be exactly what they're looking for to diversify business.
Bronzers are similar to self-tanners in that they provide a quick, temporary
tan, and many tanners use them for the same purpose--evening out spots
or supplementing a golden glow. Unlike self- tanners, which last three
to five days, however, bronzers wash off in soap and water.
Since bronzers are a quick fix for tanners pressed for time, they definitely
have increased in popularity over the past few years. Many indoor tanning
lotion manufacturers have incorporated a lotion with bronzer into their
skincare lineup to satisfy tanners' cravings for instant color gratification
coupled with superior tanning and moisturizing quality. Until recently,
bronzers were strictly cosmetic. The lotion-based bronzer tints the skin
a bronze color when it is applied. With the improvement of DHA technology,
manufacturers began including the self- tanning ingredient in bronzers.
DHA bronzers provide a mixture of tint and DHA skin reaction. The amount
of DHA included in bronzers varies by manufacturer.
While cosmetic bronzers are still widely used, now tanners can get the
long lasting, desirable skin darkening in some that offer both DHA and
Like any product, self-tanners and bronzers are best packaged with other
One byproduct of self-tanners is skin dryness. (DHA alone can dry the
skin). In many cases, manufacturers of skincare products include moisturizing
ingredients in their lotions. Still, salons should have moisturizers on
sale to complement self-tanners.
Also, since sunless tanners do not involve the normal process of melanogenesis,
the skin does not build up its defenses to UV radiation and is still susceptible
to burning. At most, the DHA in self-tanners provide protection of an
SPF 2 or 3 from UVB.
The brown color produced by DHA also may provide "significant protection"
from UVA, according to results presented at the American Academy of Dermatology's
2000 annual meeting, but it is still a good idea for sunless tanners to
wear sunscreen in the sun to prevent skin from burning. These products
should be available for purchase from salons. As is the case with other
skincare products, the skin is more receptive to the reactive properties
of lotion when it has been properly exfoliated. Consider offering an exfoliator.
More often than not, tanners' dissatisfaction with a sunless product is
a result of improper application. The following step-by-step, self-tanning
tips help eliminate the guesswork and bring out the glamour of a golden
Conduct a patch test. Each person's skin may react differently
to the formula. Conducting a patch test guarantees you will like the color.
Exfoliate the surface area. Use a loofah to exfoliate your skin and remove
dead skin cells. For women, the legs should also be shaved first. Exfoliation
and shaving help ensure the surface of your skin is smooth, which helps
the formula apply evenly for best results. Users report longer-lasting
results when dead skin cells are exfoliated prior to application.
Moisturize the skin. Before applying the self-tanner, moisturize
the skin to prime it. Skin that's hydrated and moisturized will better
accept the formula. Apply evenly. Even application is the key to great
results. First, liquefy the lotion by rubbing a small amount together
in your hands. Then apply the formula to the face, neck and body using
a thin, even coat. Use a small, circular motion when applying. Wash hands
with soap immediately after application. A great-looking tan will develop
within four hours.
More Sunless Tanning Helpful Hints
- Avoid getting formula on clothing. Dress after the formula completely
dries (approximately 20 minutes) or after blotting dry with a towel.
- Apply formula to legs and arms when straight so the joints do not
look darker than the rest of the body.
- Use self-tanners to even out tans and cover tan lines.
- To create a darker tan, reapply the formula two or three times, allowing
three to four hours between applications. To maintain your sunless tan,
reapply every few days.