Oh, the Stories Tanners Tell By Brenda Fishbaugh

I’ve been in the indoor tanning industry for 28 years pushing eye protection.  I thought I’d heard all the excuses tanners use to not wear eyewear…but a few of these were new even to me! 

 Dana Branson, district manager of The Tan Company in Columbia, Missouri, had a customer tell her that she didn’t need   eyewear because she smoked so much weed.  I said, “Ma’am, that’s glaucoma, not cataracts.”

 Kelly Priebe, of Sun Spa UV & Spray Tanning Studio of Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada, had a tanner tell me after her tan that she forgot her goggles.  She decided to use a sock over her eyes instead of hollering for Kelly to bring her some.  But Kelly doubts she even used a completely inadequate UV–blocking sock, as she was in the stand-up!


“ I had a customer tell me that they could ‘double-close’ their eyes,” says Tyler Rice of Montego Bay Tans in Whitehall, PA.  “I also had a client tell me that they liked to use two coins over their eyes.  I told them that for those two quarters, they could get a pair of clean disposable eyewear, not infect their mucous membranes with filthy quarters.”


Here are some of the ways salon owners combat the crazy excuses tanners used.  Crystal Martin, of Sun Spot Atlantis in Colorado Springs, Colorado, offers a once-a-year goggle exchange.  Tanners give Crystal their old pair and get $2 off a new pair.  “Customers will use the same pair for YEARS if we don’t educate them that their goggles need to be swapped out, just like a toothbrush.”


Perhaps you’ve heard of the excuse that Louise Small of California Sun Tanporiums in Bear, DE hears the most often.  “My clients like to tell me they don’t need eyewear because they put a towel over their face.  I explain that a towel is an SPF 5.  It’s not protecting their face and it is not protecting their eyes.  I suggest they purchase a cloth face protector and wear eye protection under it.”


“When I ask to see their eyewear, tanners often show me their sunglasses,” says, Rhonda Bollinger, of Special Touch Tanning in Kettering, Ohio.  “I explain that sunglasses will give them HUGE raccoon eyes, and sunglasses allow ambient light in around the sides.  They’ll be much happier with FDA compliant eye protection—I suggest they move it around a bit to not get any type of ring. Alternating types of eyewear can be helpful, too.” 


“I use a flashlight to educate my customers,” says Lisa Duke of Time Out Too, in Essexville, MI.  We’ve all seen that we can see light through our hand.  I explain that if a little flashlight can penetrate their hand, what is happening with thin eyelids in our big tanning beds?  That does the trick, they purchase eye protection!”


Robert Ashe of Sun Seekers in Portsmouth, NH, has a sobering story.  “I had a client refuse to wear eye protection.  We actually had an argument about it.  She finally agreed to wear eyewear and I let her tan.  They next day she came in and told me her eyes hurt from not wearing eyewear and I needed to pay for her eye doctor appointment and treatment.  My insurance company became involved.  Now I’m even more vigilant about it.  If you don’t wear eyewear, you don’t tan!”