We’ve all been waiting for the day when something happens to help change the longstanding negative perception about UV light.
Over the last 40 years, nobody has pursued that vision more fervently than Smart Tan CEO Matt Russell. From developing and continually refining the industry’s most advanced business and operator training, to his political advocacy and industry research efforts, to the countless consumer education programs and initiatives, helping the world better understand the value that professional tanning salons provide to their communities has always been a primary focus of Smart Tan.
“I’ve been dreaming of something, anything, that would help prove to the world that the ‘sunscare’ industry’s position that there are no benefits to sunlight exposure, would be completely discredited,” Russell says. “Something that would remove the negative stigma associated with UV light and reposition our businesses to be the responsible service providers for our communities that we know we are.”
The silver lining of the COVID epidemic was the amazing amount of information coming from researchers, medical groups and the media regarding the importance of sunlight induced vitamin D and its role in COVID mitigation and immune health. For the first time, a mainstream audience got a glimpse of what we’ve always known – that sunlight exposure is beneficial for all living things on this planet. Salons across North America have been reporting that new tanners are coming in unsolicited to use UV services, and they’re not just there for a tan. That’s certainly a big step in the right direction.
Other factors have also improved our positioning in the arena of public perception in recent years. The latest generation of tanning equipment, namely the KBL P9 and P9S series, are causing customers to look at not just UV light or sunshine, but indoor tanning specifically, in a different light. By combining red light with a more advanced approach to UV exposure, customers are experiencing something they’ve never experienced in the past.
“The continued advancement in tanning equipment technology has allowed manufacturers to provide a more skin sensitive alternative to providing the skin color that customers are looking to obtain,” says Bill Pipp, Vice President of Sales at Tanning Supplies Unlimited, the exclusive distributor of KBL equipment in the U.S,
“Much like the artificial spray tan equipment’s ability to provide virtually any shade of skin color that the customer can imagine, the new tanning equipment technology now allows salon staff to determine the time, mix and intensity of multiple lightwave spectrums delivered to the customer during every session to achieve the color and skin sensitivity they are looking to get from each session based on skin typing and current skin color. The color you want combined with skin care is the new normal with today’s state-of-the-art tanning equipment.”
Carly White, regional manager of Pacific Tan in Michigan said her team were hopeful that bringing in a P9S would create some new excitement for her customers, but they received much more than that. “My team and our customers never expected the results we’ve experienced from the P9S. Everyone raves about how much better their skin feels when they’re done tanning – it’s something that’s hard to explain,” said White. “We believe that this is truly what tanning is supposed to be.”
Another factor is the expanding role of red light in general for tanning businesses. Along with hybrid tanning equipment that includes red light, a variety of stand-alone red light units are prominently featured in tanning businesses around the country today. One of the most effective red light options, the POLY PRO Rejuv LED, is currently in more than 500 salons.
Red light therapy has grown in popularity to the point that a fair comparison could be made between the service’s significance in the tanning industry today and the role of spray tanning in the early 2000s. Around that time, spray tanning gradually progressed from a form of diversification to an integral part of every forward-thinking tanning business. While red light is still just starting to take off, it’s about time to start considering it a fundamental element for tanning businesses.
While much of the overall popularity and reputation of red light is being developed outside of the tanning industry by other types of establishments like medical offices, “med spas” and gyms, tanning businesses are perfectly positioned to take advantage of the hype. The concept of red light therapy is not new to our industry, as many of us have red light in our stores in one shape or form already.
But, where Russell sees the market “missing the mark” when it comes to red light is that it has been promoted as just another service with certain benefits, as other red light-providing businesses are doing. For the tanning industry, this technology can mean much, much more.
And Russell has a plan.