The End Of Tanning?

Olga Khazan | The Atlantic | August 25, 2014

In the wake of research showing strong connections between indoor tanning and melanoma, the sunbed industry is battered and contracting. But the allure of artificially bronzed skin might be dwindling in general.

Ryan Baker, a director of operations for Palm Beach Tan, ushers me through the narrow, pastel hallways of one of the chain's salons in Washington, D.C. It's a tiny place, squeezed into a strip mall between a Chipotle and a beauty parlor. But in a pinch, some see it as a mini-vacation—a dose of artificial sunshine when life’s too busy, or the outside world too cloudy, for the real thing.

Some customers pop in and out of the rooms in 10 minutes, Baker says, while others take their time, luxuriating for a half-hour or more as they primp and apply lotions in the full-length mirrors.  One of the higher-end beds looks like a spaceship, or at least an 80s rendering of one. After the tanner climbs underneath its shiny convex cover, he can blast his preferred music by hooking an iPod up to the built-in speakers. The inside is climate-controlled, and every few minutes it releases a puff of an aromatherapy scent. There are even vertical "beds," for those who prefer not to give up on their standing-desk lifestyles even while soaking up UV rays.

Baker repeatedly reminds me that these amenities are to be enjoyed only while hewing to the "golden rules of tanning...