The Herald, Sharon, PA Published Sunday, Feb. 11, 2001
outlook 2001


Every which way you tan
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Pros offer tips to avoid tan trouble

By Theresa Harkless Woods
Herald Writer

Indoor tanning in Pennsylvania is not state regulated, but Melinda Phillips -- owner of At the Beach Tanning’s two Hermitage locations, 1646 East State St. and 153 N. Hermitage Road -- hopes the state will regulate the industry in the future.

In the meantime, Mrs. Phillips is educating herself and her staff to comply with the precautions and regulations that have been developed in other states. If state regulations come, she’ll be ready, and her clients will benefit now, even before it is mandatory.

At the Beach is a licensed member of Smart Tan International, an organization of tanning salons dedicated to educating people to strike a balance between the benefits and risks of indoor tanning. Mrs. Phillips said that she and some of her staff received training and licensing by Smart Tan International by a trainer from South Carolina, a state she referred to as having some of the more stringent regulations. Mrs. Phillips expects the remainder of her staff to be licensed after training in Pittsburgh in March.

In order to give each client the "smartest tan" possible in accordance with guidelines from Smart Tan International, Mrs. Phillips said the process is totally computerized. She said, "Instead of turning a knob (to set the machine), we do it for you." The computer also tracks the client’s tanning exposure and logs the client’s history. She sees this as a major technological improvement over the beds she used to use where she was sold time in tanning beds without any questions about her history.

At the Beach uses three types of tanning beds, including one in which the client stands up to eliminate any untanned areas along the sides of the client’s body. In the Sundash Radius "Monster" tanning bed, which is at the State Street store, the client stands for tanning, surrounded by 48 200-watt Genesis bulbs. Compare this with the Super Sundash bed with 40 170-watt bulbs, or the Sundash II with 32 120-watt bulbs and 11 40-watt facial bulbs. There are six beds in private tanning booths at the State Street store and seven at the North Hermitage store. Mrs. Phillips said that the beds with higher-watt bulbs allow for a tan in fewer sessions, therefore giving less danger of burning.

Mrs. Phillips stopped short of referring to the tanning methods as "safe" though, and in fact, says, "I tell my staff not to use the word."

Clients in her salons are cautioned to limit their exposure times according to their skin type and other history, following the Smart Tan recommendations. She said, however, that there are people who should not use tanning beds because of their skin type, medical conditions, medications or tanning history.

When a prospective client comes to the salon, they meet with a trained staff member and complete a client form that is used to develop a tanning recommendation. It also includes instruction to the client on tanning recommendations, skin care during tanning, over-exposure precautions and tanning rules. The staff educates their clients verbally, on the client form and by using signs in each room.

Mrs. Phillips said that since some medications make a patient more susceptible to sunburn, client’s taking any of those medications must get their doctor’s written permission to tan. In addition, there are certain medical conditions, including skin cancer history, and even pregnancy, that would prohibit a person from tanning. At the Beach staff cautions women who are pregnant about possible hazards from heat and UV penetration depths and they must obtain their physician’s written permission in order to tan. Mrs. Phillips is pregnant and says that she will not tan during her pregnancy.

At the Beach offers tanning and additional services at their second location at Park Place Centre on North Hermitage Road. There, a client can indulge in manicures, pedicures, a menu of nail services, waxing, eyebrow arching or even a full-body massage by licensed massage therapist Cindy Boccuzzi.

Melinda Phillips is a psychologist who worked in that field in Raleigh, N.C., until she and her husband, Brant, moved back to the Shenango Valley to raise their son near their families. Mrs. Phillips used tanning salons in North Carolina, where the industry is state regulated, and was disappointed when she couldn’t find similar facilities here. At the Beach was born of that local deficiency.

The decision to tan or not to tan is a personal one – just as there are sun-worshippers who will always lie out for a tan, and others who sit happily in the shade slickered with sunscreen, even there. Although indoor tanning isn’t for everyone, according to Mrs. Phillips, "Smart tanning is tanning in moderation."

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