The Art of Control

 In Training

Teaching accredited indoor tanning certification for years has offered me the opportunity to provide an industry “mantra” to repeat:

“For those who weigh the risks and benefits of UV exposure, indoor tanning provides a controlled method for obtaining a cosmetic tan achieved according to individual skin type and a timer that minimizes risk of overexposure and sunburn.”

This also is one of the foundations of the concept of Skin Typing in tanning salons as it is covered in the Sun is Life® Training & Certification program. Now, let’s break down each section of the sentence and try to argue its content.

“For those who weigh the risks and benefits of UV exposure”… Salon operators are not soliciting young people off street corners. People visit professional indoor tanning salons when they choose to tan in moderation.

…“indoor tanning provides a controlled method for obtaining a cosmetic tan according to individual skin type and a timer…” All sunbeds sold in the U.S. fall under the Food and Drug Administration 21CFR1040.20, which mandates an exposure schedule according to skin type that is delivered with an automatic timing device that can be turned off by the tanner during the session, if needed. Yes, folks, that’s called control.

…“minimizes risk of overexposure and sunburn…” Indeed, following the manufacturer’s recommended exposure schedule according to a person’s skin type will reduce the risks of overexposure and sunburn. Additionally, it is not recommended that those with fair skin (Skin Type I on the Fitzpatrick scale) use sunbeds/sunlamps, as evidenced by the warning label required by the FDA. Professional tanning salons do not allow people with Skin type I to use their UV services. Also, consider the overwhelming risk that not only adults, but teens and toddlers take when spending considerable time under natural sunlight at a pool, park, soccer or baseball field, lake or beach. Use sunscreens and re-apply as needed? How about all those who don’t even apply an SPF at all?

According to the release from the American Cancer Society in May, 2015: “Controlled tanning is not safe tanning. Myth: Indoor tanning is safe because you can control your level of exposure to UV rays.” (

This is a classic example of the smoke and mirrors used by the anti-tanning groups that want to restrict and/or ban indoor tanning. They choose to twist the statement on controlled tanning to fit theirs: “there is no such thing as a safe tan.” As those who have read previous stories on the subject in IST know, the FDA forbids salon operators from making claims regarding the relative safety of indoor tanning and claims are monitored by the Federal Trade Commission. This is also clearly stated in Sun is Life Training & Certification. In our statement above, never once is the word “safe” used. Professional salon staff who have taken our training join others in our industry who certainly know better and avoid making such statements to their salon guests or the public at large.

If you haven’t signed up for Sun is Life Training, visit This month, IST is going to provide you with a free training module: “You’re Just My Type.” This module covers the basics on skin-typing and I just know that you’re going to like what you see. Sun is Life Training & Certification is available online, 24/7and features easy-to-use, easy-to-understand modules and specifically educates salon staff about what should and should not be said about all types of indoor tanning services.
It’s time you took control … with Sun is Life!

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