Sunbathers move indoors as snow hits |

Sunbathers move indoors as snow hits

It costs just a few dollars and most people do it in the buff. Some do it to bronze before beach vacations, high school girls use it to preempt winter formals while their male classmates use it to acquire those elusive ski-goggle tans.

Despite the protestation of dermatologists, indoor tanning attracts throngs of Americans in the winter months. More than a million people, primarily women 16 to 29, visit indoor tanning salons on an average day in the United States, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Utah law requires parents to sign consent forms for kids under 18.

Ali Kundsen runs into patrons all over town. "Just going around town, I see a ton of our clients and they’re kind of embarrassed," she laughed.

They’re reticent to admit time spent under ultraviolet lights, but the industry is changing, regulars say. (Alaska governor Sarah Palin readily admitted on the campaign trail that she had a $35,000 tanning bed installed in the Governor’s Mansion.)

A shift in methodology has also bolstered the popularity of indoor tanning. Spray tans and beds that operate without the most damaging rays offer patrons the chance to darken without turning pink. "Most of our customers are really skin-care conscious," said Lorrie Niessen, owner of 7 Sundaze Salon. "We take care to make sure people start out in the right bed. Some want that pinkish burn. But I don’t believe in burning. I believe in building a base."

Neissen covers her face, chest and neck when she tans, and most clients opt to simply turn off lights aimed at the face and neck. Tanning beds even have some benefits. "Light is a quick fix to mild depression," she said.

Problems arise when people try to tan too fast, according to Ali Kundsen, manager of Sahara Sun on Gorgoza Pines Road. She recommended visiting a tanning salon a few weeks, not a few days, before big occasions. Sahara Sun pulls in about a hundred visitors a week during its busy season and an increasing number of those clients are opting to get their tan from a can. Spray tans temporarily tint skin without altering melatonin levels and most dermatologists say it is a better alternative than burning.

"We have a pretty wide range of people who come in and each customer kind of expresses want they want in bed," Kundsen said, adding that the mist tan is most popular among clients in their mid-30s.

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