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After a long winter of practically hibernating indoors, one of your loyal customers enters your salon on a magnificent sunny, spring day – she’s ready and primed to “get her tan on!” Pleasantries are exchanged and a hearty “welcome back” is delivered. The customer’s account is verified in good standing on the computer, the result of purchasing an annual package a few months ago. Grinning with anticipation, she turns to stroll down the hallway to her favorite sunbed. As she turns, you ask if she has her FDA-compliant protective eyewear with her. She laughs and exclaims, “Of course!” You then ask her to show you the eyewear to confirm. Does this query create an uncomfortable situation or is it the standard of customer care you regularly enforce?
When teaching a classroom session of our Sun is Life® Salon Operator Training, I usually will ask the attendees what percentage of their salon guests use FDA compliant eyewear. Answers will range from 50%-75% with some even loudly reporting 100%. I ask those 100%-ers if they are absolutely certain; they always confirm that they are. I follow with, “How would you be able to confirm, unless you were in the room with them?” Herein lies the dilemma.
You and your staff must do everything possible to ensure your guests are aware of the possible consequences of unprotected tanning.
It is an FDA (and in many states) requirement per 21 CFR1040.20 that salons provide tanners with compliant eye protection. So why do many folks gloss over wearing it? Is it discomfort? Are they unconcerned about the consequences? Too expensive? Don’t want “raccoon eye” tanlines? Well, maybe it’s all or some of the aforementioned. But wearing compliant eyewear is not an option and not wearing it can result in cumulative long-term eye damage. Too much unprotected exposure to UVB can damage the cornea of the eye, while too much unprotected exposure to UVA damages the retina. Simply wearing sunglasses or closing your eyes won’t prevent potential damage. The eyelid only contains a miniscule amount of melanin and can not block these rays from your eyes and sunglasses typically will not sufficiently block the UV nor do they completely shield the eye. Do your guests know these facts?
If a tanner simply chooses not to protect their eyes while tanning, they may not feel that any damage has occurred after one or even several sessions.
However, many (including me) usually fall asleep during the session and the eyes may not be completely closed, resulting in a possible corneal burn. It may feel as if there are grains of sand in the eye – usually a sign that the surface of the cornea has been burned. Not good!
Remind your salon guests that unprotected exposure of the eye to UV may result in cumulative long-term damage! FDA compliant eyewear must block 99.9% UVB and 99% UVA. From the FDA regulations:
(4) Protective eyewear. (i) Each sunlamp product shall be accompanied by the number of sets of protective eyewear that is equal to the maximum number of persons that the instructions provided under paragraph (e)(1)(ii) of this section recommend to be exposed simultaneously to radiation from such product.
Some compliant eyewear may come with elastic straps to keep them firmly in place while tanning. Did you know that if the tanner does not use the straps, the eyewear is no longer FDA-compliant?
In sum, you and your staff must do everything possible (except of course, barging into the tanning rooms to check!) to ensure your guests are aware of the possible consequences of unprotected tanning. What’s more important: vanity or vision?
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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