SALES of self-tanning products at one of Huddersfield’s largest stores are 38% up on this time last year, which says as much about the weather as the popularity of fake tans.
According to Ben Bagshaw, deputy sales manager at the Kingsgate House of Fraser store, this is a “highly significant figure.”
“I think there are several reasons,” he says. “One is that people are worried about the dangers of sunbathing and using sunbeds. There have been a number of programmes on television lately about skin cancer. Also fake tanning is generally on the up – we have seen an increase in sales year on year for several years now. But nothing quite like this. I think the weather is the main reason.”
The store sells the popular premium Fake Bake and St Tropez self tanning products.
Gill Shaw, Huddersfield-based sales director for the direct-selling cosmetic company Temple Spa, agrees: “We launched our own self-tanner, Sol Mate, a few weeks ago and it’s become by far the best selling product we have ever launched.
“Without a shadow of doubt I think the weather has helped sales. Also, the recession has had an effect and people who can’t afford to go away still want a touch of colour to make them feel slimmer and more confident.”
Gill believes that the message about sun exposure and skin cancer is getting through at last. She says: “People are much more aware that if they expose themselves too much now they will pay for it later. They want cosmetic products instead.”
Ever since Coco Chanel and the bright young things of the Roaring Twenties visited St Tropez and made suntans fashionable, Brits have been doing what they can to look tanned.
In the 1960s and 70s this meant lying, covered in oil, on a beach; by the 1980s sunbeds had become popular; but in the 2000s fake tans took off in a big way.
Rachel Boothroyd, who works at Modavanti in Huddersfield’s Imperial Arcade and runs a mobile spray tanning business, says television shows such as The Only Way is Essex and Made in Chelsea have had a major effect on demand for fake tans. She is often booked to spray tan entire wedding entourages – from brides and the bride’s mother to all the bridesmaids.
“I’m fully booked for spray tans on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s just gone mega,” she says. “And it’s not just young girls, people of all ages want them.
“In the early summer proms are really big business. I don’t know any girls who don’t have a spray tan before their prom, they all want them.
“And a lot of competitive dancers come for spray tans, from as young as six years old.”
She says its difficult to say if the weather this year has boosted demand because fake tans have become an essential beauty treatment for so many women.
“It’s a relatively quick, cheap fix to make yourself feel good,” she says.
Rachel’s mum, Geraldine Blackburn, 49 – our model for today’s feature – agreed.
She says:“I don’t tan very easily, I just burn and peel, so a spray tan is the only way for me to get a nice, golden colour.
“I’m having a day at the races with the girls from work so we’ve booked Rachel to give us all a spray tan before we go. It just makes you feel better.”
However, one reason why fake tans have seen a boost this year is the new legislation on sunbed use, which prevents young people under the age of 18 using them.
According to Jane Nasir, who runs the Sunquest tanning centre in Huddersfield, this has doubled bookings for spray tanning.
“We are extremely busy with spray tans at the moment,” she said. “The weather, however, has also boosted sunbed use – among the elderly.
“The sunbed business is seasonal with more elderly people using them in the winter to ease the pain of their arthritis and younger customers in the summer. But this year we’ve noticed that the bad weather has brought more elderly people in and we are busier than usual.”
The cost of a salon fake tan treatment is anything from £10 upwards. Include full body exfoliation and expect to pay twice that or more.
However, some self-tanning products themselves can cost as much as £30 a bottle – although they will provide several applications.
Essentially, all fake tanning products contain the same chemical – DHA (dihydroxyacetone) – which is derived from the sugary substance glycerin. The depth of colour obtained from an application depends upon the concentration of DHA.
For example, Rachel uses the OMG system, which has concentrations of DHA ranging from 9% to 20% and can create anything from a light golden tan to a deep mahogany colour.
The strength of the solution will also dictate how fast the chemical ‘dyes’ the skin, but most products require a ‘setting’ time of at least two to three hours – many act over as many as eight hours.
DHA was discovered in the 1920s, but has only been used in self-tanners for the last three decades. It is a colourless substance that works by interacting with the amino acids in skin cells to produce a brown colour change. Since skin cells are constantly being shed, the colour change produced by DHA usually lasts about five to seven days.
The American Food and Drug Administration advises that the chemical is safe for external application, but should not be inhaled or used on the lips. Ask for a barrier cream to be used on the lips if you are having a spray tan and wear a face mask while the solution is being applied to the body.