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
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
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.
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
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.