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Area tanning salons adjust ahead of new law

Published: Friday, Dec. 6, 2013 9:01 p.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013 11:22 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com)
Key West Tan employee Mara Gasher of Lake Barrington wipes down the spay tan machine while working at the Cary store. Starting Jan. 1, teens will no longer be able to tan in Illinois. The law bans indoor tanning for anyone younger than 18.
Caption
(Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com)
Key West Tan employee Mara Gasher of Lake Barrington wipes down a tanning machine while working at the Cary store. Starting Jan. 1, teens will no longer be able to tan in Illinois. The law bans indoor tanning for anyone younger than 18.

CRYSTAL LAKE – Area tanning salons are weighing their options, hoping not to get burnt by new legislation that’s cutting into their bottom line.

Starting in January, minors under 18 years old will no longer be allowed to tan in indoor tanning salons. Current law allows those aged 14 to 18 to tan with permission from their parents.

The law was welcomed by spray tanning salons like Crystal Lake-based Haute Bombshells, a mobile spray tan company.

“My business is going to boom,” owner and self-proclaimed “tanologist” Brandy Gisela said, laughing.

Haute Bombshells hopes to capitalize on the ban by offering spray tan discounts to teens or those with a student ID.

Colleen Whittier owns Key West Tan in Cary.

She’s not worried about a potential cut to her bottom line. Only a small portion of her business comes from teens, she said, and that’s mostly around prom and homecoming season, graduations or before vacation.

That being said, she disagrees with the law saying “the government has their hands in way too many things.”

“Are they going to put a teen tan ban on the pools and the beach? Because that’s where kids are going,” she said.

That’s the same sentiment issued by the Washington, D.C.-based Indoor Tanning Association, which said proponents of the law exaggerate statistics.

“It is a fact that ultraviolet light from a sunbed is the same as that from the sun and regular moderate non-burning exposure is essential for good health,” the association said in a statement about limiting tanning exposure for teens

But the Academy of Dermatology warns exposure to ultraviolet rays that cause the skin to tan increases the chances of developing skin cancer.

Tanning beds increase the risk of melanoma, especially in women aged 45 years or younger, the Academy said.

But no matter the risks, there are people who like to look bronzed.

Like Whittier, Tammy Neumann of Woodstock’s Tropical TanSpa, said her clientele is made up mostly of men and women old enough to consent to tan. She fears the ban might bring unintended consequences by pushing teens toward unregulated tanning, like “their aunt’s basement.”

“People should be aware that salons have been regulated since the 90s,” Neumann said. “We have been checking ages getting parental consent. … We have been doing it in a responsible way. Why do they chose to take that demographic away from us?”

Although Gisela is planning for an increase in business, she’s not interested in making her business by dissing others.

“I don’t say ‘this is safer,’ I say ‘this is an alternative,’” Gisela said. “Now this is a legal alternative for the 18 and under.”

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