Introduction to Sunless
Over the past five years, we’ve watched sunless tanning position
itself for explosive growth. While sunless provides a new service to existing
clients looking to enhance their traditional tanning sessions, it has
the potential to expand the tanning and day spa populous with new customers
who either cannot or choose not to get a traditional UV tan.
The concept of sunless tanning has come a long way since its introduction
to the general public in the 1960s. Today, sunless products can be found
everywhere from indoor tanning salons and day spas to department stores
and drug stores. Professional tanning salons have the ability to offer
superior self-tanning formulas as well as the latest in application processes
that include stand-up spray booths and portable airbrush-tanning systems.
Sunless Airbrush/HVLP Technician
To provide a competitive edge to salons offering airbrushing or HVLP
sunless services, NTTI offers the industry’s first program specifically
designed for the airbrush/HVLP technician. Based on research and testing
conducted by some of the leading manufacturers of sunless spray systems,
this course takes the technician from setup to application while discussing
technique, safety, pricing and more. Professional tanning salons now have
the ability to offer superior sunless airbrush/HVLP services delivered
by well-trained and certified sunless airbrush/HVLP technicians.
Business Success With Sunless
The mention of “sunless tanning” used to raise the hackles
of many indoor tanning salon owners. The whole concept--tanning without
the use of ultraviolet radiation--went against everything salons stood
for. Maybe it still does in some cases. After all, why would a customer
come to a salon when he or she could stay at home and apply a lotion for
an instant tan? The question isn’t as perplexing as it once was.
In fact, the truth is sunless can be a salon owner’s friend.
More and more salon owners are warming to the idea of sunless as a complement
to their main business of UV tanning. In fact, 40 percent of U.S. tanning
salons offer at least one form of sunless services. Twenty-two percent
offer sunless airbrush or turbine tanning, according to research conducted
recently by LOOKING FIT. This represents a 10 percent to 6 percent jump,
respectively, over the previous year.
Sunless services can be offered as a quick fix when traditional UV clients
are pressed for time, a tanning booster between UV sessions, a touch-up
for delicate or hard-to-tan areas, and to even out pressure points and
Salons that have added sunless services report an increase in traditional
UV tanning sessions by as much as 30 percent after they introduced sunless
As sunless-tanning technology improves and education about it spreads
through the industry, salon owners are beginning to understand the 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 of their skincare needs. When marketed correctly, sunless
products can be an excellent ancillary profit center.
Those skeptical of adding sunless to their facilities should remember
this: Tanners and non-tanners want to look good and feel good. Only 10
percent of the U.S. population, or 29 million individuals, currently tan
indoors, so consider the possibilities. What better way to double or even
triple your client base than by introducing them to non-UV tanning?
How Sunless Works: The Solution
Due to an increase in spray-on tanning, DHA solutions have experienced
tremendous growth in the past few years. Typically, there are three types
of bronzers that are used in sunless spray solution. A cosmetic bronzer
is visible immediately after being sprayed, but will wash off after showering.
A DHA bronzer initially has no visible effect, but will begin to react
with the skin in two to four hours and develop color. Erythrulose is a
slower-reacting bronzer and is similar to DHA.
With or without the addition of cosmetic bronzers, the solutions use
roughly the same ratio of DHA--3 percent to 5 percent--and are available
in different viscosities for different purposes.
The tan that is produced is absolutely water-resistant and diminishes
only as the dead cells of the stratum corneum flake off. It should be
noted, though, that the tan is purely cosmetic and does not provide the
protection that a traditional tan would.
Not all sunless solutions contain a cosmetic bronzer. Ones that do will
give an immediate color to the tanner. This color is not permanent and
will wash off.
The Academic Press Dictionary of Science and Technology defines dihydroxyacetone
like so: “CH2HOCOCH2OH, a colorless, hygroscopic, crystalline powder;
soluble in water and alcohol; melts at 80 C; 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 appeared commercially in the 1960s. Coppertone was one of 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.
DHA was first approved for cosmetic use in 1973. At that time the Food
and Drug Administration added DHA to its list of approved cosmetic ingredients.
Afterward, cosmetic companies as well as indoor tanning lotion manufacturers
began to perfect sunless products and their ability to give a beautiful
Erythrulose is very similar chemically to DHA and works synergistically
with it to give a more natural looking tan. Although it is four to five
times the cost of DHA, experts say it enhances a sunless tan’s finish
and reduces the dryout associated with DHA products.
While DHA changes the color of skin within four to 24 hours, erythrulose
needs about two to three days for skin to show a color change. In addition
to providing a more luxurious color, it may help to lengthen a sunless
tan by a day or two.