The Modern Era of Tanning Salons

"The quickest way to look 20lbs lighter? Get a spray tan!" - Dr. Oz


Admission: I've been going to tanning salons since high school. I'm a southern Cali girl - a tan is standard issue. Not to mention I was a competitive swimmer, and I needed to do something to get rid of that Speedo racerback line. I remember my mom dropping me and my neighbor off at the local tanning salon to boil under the bulbs for 30 minutes. Tanning was the norm in The Valley. Our high school Friday/Saturday night meet-up point was at "Suntans to Go". 

While fear and age has made me more hesitant to tan as of late, my desire for bronze sun kissed skin hasn't. And let's be honest, tan fat is SO much nicer looking than white fat. That's why I fell in love with airbrush tanning. But it's expensive and appointments can be limited so I'm always on the search for other options.

A few weeks ago iTans, a regional chain of tanning salons contacted me about covering their "Miss iTan" pageant. While pageants are really not my niche, I did ask them if I would be able to review their sunless tanning options, thinking that tanning was all they really do. In turn, the offered me a week long pass to try all the services they offer... apparently these days you can not only bronze your bottom in private, but get your teeth whitened, get a facial and sweat your boobs off in a body wrap all in one spot. I jumped at the chance to try out all the things that I was dying to try, but didn't think I wanted to spend the money on. 


The first time I tried the Mystic Tan was back in 2002 and while I loved my color (it never turned me Oompa Lompa orange) I do remember standing in that booth holding my breath and hoping I didn't get that "dirty feet" look. While I checked out the new Mystic Tan machines, I chose to do the Vera Spa tan because it advertises that it will "bronze, hydrate and smooth fine lines in just one session." GAME ON SPRAY TAN SYSTEM. 

For this tan, I chose the "clear solution" (no added bronzer) and the post sunless super hydrating treatment. The booth was nice and airy and I didn't feel I needed to hold my breath the whole time and it was quick and easy. I also have to say that the tan was flawless. No funny marks, no dark spots and it was 100% even. Better than some of the airbrush tans I've had. I went with the lightest shade and I looked as if I just got back from a week in Palm Springs. Or ideally what I would want to look like after a week in Palm Springs, but Lord knows in reality I would have been burned and splotchy with dry skin from a week in the desert. 

I'm already planning on doing this tan again, on a regular basis, this summer. 


Please don't lecture me, but while I was there I decided I needed a little Vitamin D, and went for the uber delux "Sun Angel" bed. Tanning beds have sure come a long way since my days at "Suntans 2 Go" and this particular bed is like the Porsche of them all. Since one of my main aging concerns is discoloration on my face, I really liked that I could turn off the facial tanners on this bed. Alas, I will admit that I did get a little red on my back, even though I only tanned for 1/2 the maximum time. 

I also tried the Level 2 "stand up" tanning bed. After using the Versa Mist spray tanner, this was a great way to make sure my skin was dry and it was nice to be able to lift my arms to tan my sides a bit. 


During my week pass I was also abe to try three additional "spa treatments" offered at iTan. The "Beauty Angel" is a red light energy "skin rejuvination system." According to the marketing materials it "reduces the apperance of fine lines, wrinkles and cellulite while increasing circulation throughout your body." It sounds good, but in all honesty I can't give this a final review. Apparently results are seen after mulitple sessions, and I only had time in the week for one. It was nice, and my skin did feel firmer, but that could have been a result of the product I rubbed on first. 

Fit Body Wrap: Marketing materials say this burns up to 1,000 calories in 70 minutes.. while I don't have any way of knowing for sure, I will say that I sweated my patootie off. Imagine lying inside a heating pad sleeping bag for 60-70 minutes while wearing a white tissue track suit. Thats the experience of the Fit Body Wrap. People keep asking me how I laid for so long, but honestly I think the key for me was that I was on Book Three of the Fifty Shades series and thrilled to have 70 minutes to read uninterrupted. Yes it was hot. Yes I did sweat. And yes, the next day I was down 4 lbs... I know it was water weight, but I'll take it. 

Teeth Whitening: Last but not least, I tried the Whiter Image teeth whitening service that iTan offers. Its your basic mouth tray and LED light treatment, but it does work. Bonus for this system is that the light doesn't attach to the mouthpiece, and while I didn't experience any teeth sensitivity, if you do, you can pull away for a moment. 

While all these services are offered in one local San Diego chain, from the reasearch I've been doing, it apprears that services such as these are now commen for most tanning salons. I suggest checking out the manufactures websites for locations close to you, or checking in at your local tanning salon to see what they may offer. 


*disclosure: iTans provided me with a free "spa pass" to try all the services free of charge. Opions are my own.