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Chapter 5: Sunless Tanners

Shedding New Light on 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 operator, have the perfect solution--suggest a sunless tanner.

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.

Coming Around Again

Self-tanners have gained popularity in the past few years for a number of reasons. The medical community's condemnation of UV light has 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 incisive industry bashing has caused some fear to getting in a tanning bed.

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 It Works

In days past, sunless tanners didn't live up to their promise of deep, golden tans. Instead, they left the skin streaked and splotched with a distinctive orange cast. Today's sunless tanning products are far more sophisticated than those introduced nearly 30 years ago. In fact, in the last few years, these products have undergone a sort of metamorphosis--streaks, splotches and orange are out; smooth, bronze and beautiful are in.

The key ingredient to the products' evolution is Dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, which is an extract of sugar cane. DHA reacts with proteins in the skin to produce a bronze coloration on the top layer of skin--in essence, a cosmetic effect that does not saturate the skin.

Over the years, the formulation technology has been greatly improved to provide better application and coloration. Many of the earlier products were formulated using higher DHA concentrations; today, sunless tanners use lower concentrations because of the improved technology.

However, even though technology has improved sunless tanners, the key to successful marketing is education. For example, if a client puts a product on and immediately notices a color change, that product must contain a dye. Reputable products don't react like that because they oxidize the dead skin cells on the top layer of the skin to produce a bronzing effect.

The majority of self-tanners on the market are a medium grade of color. How dark they tan really depends on the individual's skin type and the condition of the skin. It is important to remind your clients that what works on one person may not necessarily look the same on another.

The first step to ensuring a great sunless tan is to exfoliate the skin. The skin needs to be clean and free from dead skin cells in order to alleviate uneven distribution. Clients also need to exfoliate well and then dry off completely before applying a sunless tanner. For example, if a client is young and has soft, supple skin, he or she probably doesn't need to exfoliate as much. If he or she has naturally dry skin or are in a place with a lot of humidity, exfoliation is the key to getting an even, all-over tan.

The second, and probably most important step, is application. Some experts suggest spot testing the product to see what shade of bronze will result. The key to obtaining an even tan is to apply a smooth, thin layer of the self-tanner. Avoid using too much self-tanner in one application; you can always go back and apply another layer if the color isn't dark enough.

When applying the self-tanner, special attention should be paid to the knee, elbow, ankle and eye areas. The reason? Color is proportional to the surface area of the skin, and these areas are likely to become darker because there is a higher concentration of self-tanner in the fine lines.

Additionally, it is important to wait for the product to dry completely before getting dressed, since DHA interacts with proteins and can cause some fabrics to stain. Also, avoiding the hairline is crucial since hair is protein and self-tanners will cause it to discolor.

Once the color has fully developed, another coat of self-tanner may be added to darken the tan. Mistakes and uneven patches can be fixed easily by exfoliating the area or by adding more self-tanner. Make sure to tell clients to allow self-tanners to dry before beginning any activity, as sweat during application can cause an uneven or streaked tan.

Since self-tanners work on the top layer of skin, the average tan only will last for approximately three to four days, gradually fading as the top layer dries and flakes off. Salon operators need to remind customers that self-tanners don't contain any sunscreen and even though their skin is tan, they still can get sunburned.

In addition, because DHA often is associated with skin dryness, it is important to suggest a moisturizer to complement self-tanners. Not only will it alleviate the dryness, but it will ensure another sale for you during typically slow months.

Skincare Source

Still leery about promoting a self-tanner in your tanning facility? Just take a look at the big picture and then make up your mind. You sell moisturizers, accelerators, intensifiers, and sunscreens just to mention a few. So, why not sell self-tanners and show your clients that you are their No. 1 source for all tanning-related products and services?

For years cosmetic companies have marketed self-tanning cremes, lotions and sprays and consumers have spent millions of dollars every year using these alternative tanning products. Why shouldn't your salon benefit from these sales?

Salon professionals pride themselves on being skincare experts. If this is true, then they should provide indoor, outdoor and sunless tanners. Why let someone go to other people to buy product when you can be the one-stop shop for all your clients' skincare needs.

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