New Salon Keeps Customers Healthily Tanned

For decades, Washington has been referred to as the “Chocolate City.” Recent census numbers show, however, that the city is getting a big taste of vanilla, with the number of black residents dropping to about half as gentrification merges on.

But is the vanilla now trying to turning caramel… Or pumpkin?

Okay, enough with the flavor analogies.  

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, based in Washington and Schaumburg, IL, on an average day in the U.S., over 1 million people tan at indoor tanning salons.  Of that number, about 70 percent of the patrons are Caucasian females, ages 16 to 29.

“I actually go tanning before I even get to the beach to tan there,” said Mary Shadid, a 25-year-old Maryland resident and frequent tanner with pale-colored skin. “I hate being pale!”  

With the number of famous faces, from actress Lindsay Lohan to reality show star Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi, going tan, more and more people, specifically teen girls, are finding themselves visiting indoor tanning salons all year long to keep that “dark” summer look.

Research done by CITY100— a research business based at San Diego State University that researches the causes and effects of teen indoor tanning– shows that in 2006, the number of tanning salons in Washington was only 12.  

Fit To Be Tan, the newest member of the Washington tan family on U Street, brings a new twist to tanning to the area.  Instead of tanning beds, Fit To Be Tan offers spray tans.

“We’re basically trying to get people away from UV beds,” said Kelly Keeling, an employee of Fit to Be Tan.

According to the Federal Drug Administration, a tan, from both the sun and tanning beds, is actually a sign of skin damage.  Both UV-A and UV-B rays from tanning beds penetrate the skin which can cause prematurely aged skin and skin cancer, the most dangerous being melanoma.  

But Fit To Be Tan keeps the diseases away.

“The spray tan is a sugar derivative, so it’s reacting to the top dead layer of your skin, the amino acids,” explained Keeling.  “When people think spray tan, they think orange people. But ours is a sugar derivative that reacts to your skin so you’re not orange.”

Still fresh to the city, Fit To Be Tan opened in early March and sees about 15 to 20 clients a day.  Their sister salon in Arlington has been opened for roughly two years with around 50 clients per day.

Although tanning could be for anyone, the clientele at the salon is generally reflective of the American Academy of Dermatology statistic.

“It’s a majority of female clients,” Keeling said.  “Being near the DuPont area, we do get a lot more men but I do feel that it’s based on women.”

Although not many of her clients are African American, Keeling said that the spray tan can be used to make skin tones even without making them darker.  Spray tans can also be used for people suffering from rosacea or vitiligo.

Jade Carter, a senior Sports Management major, says that she loves being tan.  Carter is of African American and Native American descent.

“I go to the beach strictly for tanning and it sucks sometimes because my friends are trying not to get tan while I’m caking on oil trying to get dark,” Carter said.  “I’ve never been to a tanning salon before but I would definitely be open to trying out spray tanning, especially for an upcoming special event or something like that.”

Fortunately for frequent tanners, the price to keep that sun-kissed glow is fairly reasonable.

For a single session of face, chest and arms tanning, the price is $30.  The most expensive package is one for $149.99 which provides customers with a no-contract monthly membership and 25 percent off of retail products.

It may seem expensive, but tanning beds are not only costly health-wise, but there is also a tanning tax that makes the price of bed tanning much higher.  Because there are no health scares with spray tanning, the process is exempt from the tax.

The salon also has a few quirky twists.  The front waiting room also serves as a boutique-esque shop where clients can purchase a variety of gifts, from old-fashioned lamps to decorative Chinaware.  A new addition to the store, Jaime Vasquez, also gives clients a little bonus, along with the gift shop.

“Our in-house makeup artist, Jaime, just joined our team,” said Keeling.  “He’s from the Chanel and Lancome family.”

A full package, Fit To Be Tan offers everything perfect to get ready for a special event: a gift, a tan and makeup.

Best part is customers walk away beautiful and healthy.