LIFESTYLE: Afterglow

New spray tanning booth gives skin a new hue in just seconds

By: Sharlee Joy DiMenichi
   A sun-kissed look without ultraviolet rays isn’t easy. Often, people in search of a healthy glow must rely on messy self-tanning lotions that can turn skin an unflattering orange hue instead of the desired bronze. But one South Brunswick tanning salon may have a safe and easy solution.
   A new spray tanning booth at Hawaiian Bronze tanning salon in the South Brunswick Square Mall on Route 1 offers customers instant color without the hot lights of typical tanning beds or spending hours worshiping the sun.
   Chris Morosoff, owner of Hawaiian Bronze, said the $27,000 spray booth, which was installed about three weeks ago, is popular with customers who wish to tan in a hurry.
   "We have customers who come in and say, ‘I have a reunion tomorrow and I need a tan,’" Mr. Morosoff said.
   Achieving a tan with a tanning bed takes several sessions, Mr. Morosoff said. The non-UV spray treatment, however, takes eight seconds and involves standing in a shower-like booth that sprays customers — who wear bathing suits, underwear, or nothing — with a fine, clear mist that reacts with their skin’s proteins to create a light tan. Repeated applications darken the color, with three sessions over 10 days yielding the equivalent of a base suntan.
   Mr. Morosoff said the tanner uses a process similar to that which makes cut apples turn brown when exposed to air. The spray contains a bronzer, which provides immediate color, and a sugar-based tanner that lasts about a week, he said.
   DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is the active ingredient in the spray, Mr. Morosoff said. He said DHA does not have side effects and has been used in the food preparation industry since the mid-1950s to enhance the color of meats. Mr. Morosoff said the FDA has approved the chemical for use as a tanning agent.
   Customers protect their cuticles with cream designed to repel the spray and their hair with shower caps. One session regularly costs $25, but in February, the price is reduced to about $20 in an introductory offer. Some of the customers who have used the machine so far said speed was key in their decision to try it.
   "It’s convenient. It’s quick," said Sean Ingaglio of South Brunswick, who used the spray booth.
   Some customers also favor the booth because they are apprehensive about tanning under ultraviolet rays, Mr. Morosoff said.
   "Because I’m pretty much allergic to the sun and I can’t go into the regular tanning beds, I tried sunless tanning," said Sharon Munson of Kendall Park.
   One tanner said she used the machine to supplement her normal tanning routine.
   "I like to be dark, and I know it’s not healthy to be that dark," said Sandra Bolman of South Brunswick.
   Mr. Morosoff said that he initially thought the spray booth would be a threat to his business because many customers do not recognize the health benefits, such as mood elevation and vitamin-D production, of tanning under ultraviolet rays and would choose a non-UV method to tan. Mr. Morosoff said he believes too much sun can be dangerous, but that sunscreen manufacturers have overplayed the danger of sun exposure.
   "Our viewpoint is that the pharmaceutical industry has created a sun scare," Mr. Morosoff said.
   Mr. Morosoff said he tries to educate customers about the benefits of controlled doses of UV light but that he likes to offer an alternative to those who still prefer a nonlight-based way to get brown.
   "Indoor tanning or outdoor tanning is not for everyone. Some people are just nervous, and we’re not here to jam anything down their throat," Mr. Morosoff said. He said the spray booth has instead proved to be a complement to the other tanning machines at the salon.
   Mr. Morosoff said that when he first got the machine, about eight customers got uneven tans because salon staff members were still perfecting the best instructions for moving one’s arms to ensure an even coating. He said he offered the customers as many free sessions in the booth as were needed to correct any problems.
   Customers who followed the revised movement instructions said they were pleased with the results.
   "I looked like I’d been to the beach," Ms. Munson said.
   Others echoed Ms. Munson’s view.
   "It made me glow," said Lori Lako, owner of For Pete’s Sake, a hair salon next door to Hawaiian Bronze. "I went next door and my clients were asking me, ‘Did you go on vacation?’"
   More information is available from Hawaiian Bronze at (732) 274-0448.