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The subject of this month’s “Watchdog” piece comes courtesy of the Skin Cancer Foundation and a story about a young girl who had been employed at a tanning salon, but shifted to working for a dermatologist. It’s called, “Confessions of a Former Tanning Salon Employee.” You can read more at skincancer.org/blog/confessions-former-tanning-salon-employee/
Let’s move on and dissect the piece to provide another viewpoint.
In the interview, the girl states that she has fair skin, blonde hair and blue eyes. Okay, stop right there! She has Skin Type 1, which puts her in the group of folks who are NOT optimal candidates for tanning, indoors OR outdoors. So much so, that people who meet the Skin Type 1 criteria are typically encouraged to not tan indoors and there is no recommended exposure time listed for them on tanning bed labels.
As the story continues, she points out that she grew up on Long Island, NY, spending summers enjoying sunny weather at the pool and the beach, and admitting that her skin initially burns and freckles. That’s our next stop. What is her lifetime history of exposure to natural sunlight? How many overexposures and sunburns did she receive at the beach and pool? Not mentioned.
Next, she states that as a teenager, she did tan indoors at other times of the year. The writer then asked how she motivated people to tan at the salon where she worked. Read her reply slowly and let it sink in: “People liked the whole tanning experience. It was very spa-like. When you come in, you’re greeted with smiles and you’re treated like a prince or a princess. You’re given a towel and lotion and at some levels they would spritz you with water and a coconut scent. You’re relaxed, warm and at ease.”
As industry veterans know, indoor tanning is a “look good, feel good” experience. Her reply tells us that she really didn’t do any motivating at the salon – a fantastic customer service experience was included. Yet, the interviewer apparently was seeking a more sinister answer, like, the ways she “enticed” customers? Well, I seriously doubt that she was out on the sidewalk yelling at people to come in and tan!
She was also asked about the rules and regulations at the salon. Somehow, she overlooked commenting on skin-typing procedures, use of FDA-compliant eye protection and the sanitization protocols, all of which are core topics in the IST Magazine Sun is Life® Certification program.
What I did find concerning was a mention of selling “unlimited” tanning packages. Promoting unlimited tanning sessions certainly can give the perception to the public of being able to receive a UV session every day. Perhaps, salons should consider renaming these types of packages (platinum, mega, premium, etc.) and defining a maximum number of weekly sessions. In addition, it is important to explain to current and potential customers that following salon guidelines is important to reduce the risk of overexposure and sunburn. This article goes on to indicate that the former tanning salon employee had since moved on to work for a dermatologist. Hopefully, this doctor is one who reminds her that UV also is delivered by exposure to natural sunlight and that as an individual with Skin Type 1, she should avoid overexposure and possible sunburn while frolicking in the sun at the beach and the pool.
A 26-year industry veteran, Joe has taught certified salon operator training for the last 15 years, as well as advocating indoor tanning in many capacities. Joe is a sought-after speaker and presenter at both national & regional trade events, also interacting with the FDA, state & local regulatory agencies. During his most recent tenure with the ITA, he served as director of membership.
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