01 July 2010

How to Get a Golden Glow in Seattle's Infamous "June-uary"

by Brooke Hubbard

Today was a typical Seattle day towards the end of a not-so-typical Seattle June: cloudy and grey.

We Seattlites really earned our reputation this year, setting a record for the longest amount of time between 75 degree days. To say the least, we are all looking and feeling a little pale. Lucky for us, Seattle Sun Tan is a generous sponsor of this year’s FASHION FIRST, which means that today we got to tour the beautiful University Village location and test out some services.

Being a stereotypical burn-as-soon-as-I-step-in-the-sun redhead, I had never been tanning. Honestly, I hadn't even considered it an option for my type of skin. Turns out I had a lot to learn. Seattle Sun Tan has an average of 12-23 rooms per store and offers tanning beds that vary from Levels 1-5.

The Sunstar 332 Level 1 bed is most like being out in regular sunlight and designed for customers who already have a base tan and are looking to darken the tone. The Level 5 Velocity bed is designed for customers looking to start their base tan or who tend to burn easily in the sun (this is the perfect bed for me). The Velocity bed (pictured) is unique in design because, unlike most beds, it does not close around the customer but is completely open and the base of the bed is curved to match the body. We hear this results in a more relaxing position that gives you a tan without the telltale "bunny tale" white mark (this is tanning lingo - did you know there was such a thing as tanning lingo?) ;)

Our Publicity Director, Candice, a fellow novice to the tanning salon, tested out a Level 4 bed.  In just 7 minutes she was able to build a base tan that developed over 4 hours or so. The beds have jacks for your iPod, full body fans to keep you cool and are quite roomy. Candice said, "When the bed turned on with the bright, bright light and full-on fans, it was a bit like taking off in a rocketship. It's intense. Heat-wise, it felt like Vegas winds on the hottest summer day.  I definitely felt sunnier in my disposition afterwards...I could totally see doing this in the middle of winter and definitely this year, when we've been deprived of summer for so long".  True, tanning beds apparently help with Vitamin D.  The staff at Seattle Sun Tan is able to advise you on which bed and how long you should take for your session based on how easily your skin tans or burns in natural light.

If you are looking for a UV-free or more immediate tan, Seattle Sun Tan offers two sunless tanning options. The first is an air-brush tan, applied by a technician. A naturally-based sunless tanning product is misted over your body in just 5-7 minutes. The spray reacts with the protein keratin in the skin causing the skin to change to a darker tanned tone. This tan is perfect for big events or evenings out on the town (Fashion First, anyone?)

The second non-bed option Seattle Sun Tan offers is the VersaSpa spray-on tan. This is what I decided to try. This spray-on tan booth is voice-guided and touch-free. You can choose from three different levels of darkness and can also choose either to include a bronzer for that instant gratification or leave the spray clear and wait as the tan appears in 6-8 hours. I decided that since I had never tried anything like this before, I definitely wanted to see the difference right away and chose to add the bronzer. But I was still a little unsure about seeing my skin any color other than blindingly white with freckles, so went with the lightest spray option.

After applying the Amplifier cream for a longer-lasting glow and memorizing the four poses that would promise to give me an all-over even tan, I stepped into the booth and pressed the green button to start my first tanning experience. A woman’s voice came on telling me to stand in pose one facing the sprayers for the first pass. I closed my eyes and felt a fine, cool mist start at my head and end at my toes. After the last three poses, the booth does four drying passes to prevent any smearing, which lets you get re-dressed right away. I was soon ready to see what the rest of the world thought of my new tan. It was a great success! I had a nice glow that looked smooth and natural even on my naturally light skin. Maybe next time I’ll try the bed before the spray-on and have what they call in the biz, a "cocktail".
Seattle Sun Tan has an upscale feeling, with great customer service, complementary water upon arrival, private rooms, and artwork in each location. This is not your average strip mall tanning salon! You feel instantly at home, and if you're new to tanning (like we were), the staff is very accommodating and helpful. In fact, the chain has been awarded a top quality salon award from ETS Tan. The prices are extremely reasonable, and Seattle Sun Tan offers various plans and memberships for frequent tanners to save.

All in all, we would totally do this again.  Seattle Sun Tan truly understands the needs of sun-deprived Seattlites.  Find one of their 19 locations near you!

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{Huge thanks to owner Scott Swerland, Cassidy at the U. Village store, and Brian at Hitman Productions for putting together our tour.}

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