By Matt Russell, Smart Tan CEO
Steve was a successful tanning salon owner for years and a dear friend. He started his stores when he was single and quickly grew them into a successful and respectable business operation. Over the years, he married the love of his life and had three wonderful children. Steve was living the dream as an entrepreneur, a loving husband and proud father. In the early years, Steve spoke openly and confidently about his tanning business as a proud father would about his children. His entire family wore jackets with his logo and his customers proudly brandished his T-shirts.
But all that changed after the “Sunscare” industry waged war against tanning, and accused indoor tanning business owners of being unethical, cancer-causing, profiteers. I remember Steve telling me how he would remove his jacket that had his tanning salon name on it before he went to his son’s soccer games. He told me he didn’t want his children looked down upon by families that had bought into the anti-tanning rhetoric.
Today, health care groups, doctors, and the media acknowledge that getting regular sunlight exposure is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, tanning beds are still frowned upon by these groups. For decades we’ve been trying to teach the world that our UV tanning devices are simply sunlight simulators emitting 95% UVA and 5% UVB just like mid-day summer sunlight. But the stigma associated with artificial UV light equipment marches on.
However, no one takes issue with the non-UV spectrum of sunlight and the therapeutic benefits associated with them. Red light, infrared light, and other spectrums are broadly accepted to be harmless yet provide many benefits. Is it possible that we can utilize non-UV devices to teach the masses that devices emitting various sunlight wavelengths can offer similar benefits as sunlight?
We’re not suggesting that we fool people into believing that exposure to UV light, regardless of the source, comes without risks. Responsible tanning salons have always educated consumers with equipment labels, consent forms, and disclaimer language clearly communicating the risks of UV exposure. But, when the multi-billion dollar “sunscare” industry, and the media that bows to them, convince the world that indoor tanning beds are akin to cigarette smoking, something needs to be done to put things into proper perspective.
Smart Sun Therapy focuses on the other spectrums of sunlight that aren’t subjected to the unfair stigma associated with our sunbeds. Red light, near-infrared light, and blue light are all therapeutic wavelengths of sunlight that are widely accepted by the world as being beneficial, while presenting little or no risk. Many of us have already experienced the beneficial effects of red light with a red light device in our stores, or a hybrid tanning unit. We also understand the many benefits associated with infrared light and blue light.
Smart Sun Therapy incorporates all of these light sources into a full-body unit designed specifically for tanning salons. The unit boasts 28,043 high-output LEDs, making it 20-30 times more powerful than a low-pressure red light bed getting results that are unparalleled by any other device on the market. The unit is specifically designed NOT to look like a clamshell tanning bed, putting the light source closer to the user (LED output diminishes quickly with distance), and to make it obvious that this is something completely different than a sunbed.
I think back to the early years of indoor tanning before the anti-tanning industry started its unfair attacks against us. I remember people looking at sunbeds as a great way to get a suntan to prevent them from getting a sunburn and ruining their vacation. The concept was pretty simple: We’re just like sunshine.
Today, these new artificial sources of sunlight are becoming commonplace, and they are accepted as being beneficial and therapeutic. As this evolution continues, we need to be ready to embrace these technologies and our role as the leaders in providing sunlight exposure in all its forms. I believe that these new technologies and the perceptions that come with them will remove the shadow that has hung over this industry for some time. I’m sure Steve would be proud to wear a “Smart Sun Therapy” jacket to his son’s soccer game.