Although Tan at the Islands’s name suggests that clients leaving the salon are heading home from the beach, they might be better off heading toward one—they’re likely to be not only tanner but also slimmer and smoother skinned. Inside the salon’s private tanning rooms lie four levels of state-of-the-art, high-pressure Sun Ergoline UV beds, which vary in number of bulbs so that clients can speed up the tanning process without wasting a wish they earned from a grateful flounder. Airbrush equipment outfits skin in a mist customized to each patron’s skin tone, and Mystic spray-tanning booths alternate tanning sprays and drying gusts to lend skin a seamless bronze for up to 10 days. Skin also benefits from red-light therapy, which is said to boost collagen production. Clothes and accessories from brands such as Lucky and True Religion line the walls of the salon’s boutique, enabling customers to don beachwear that shows off newly golden skin tones the way people taunting 7-Eleven security cameras show off newly blue tongues.
In 2001, the first iTan Sun Spray Spa opened its doors. It had a simple goal—to make clients feel and look lovely with professional tanning services. Today, the spa has more than 20 branches around San Diego, each offering a slightly different assortment of tanning beds, spray-tanning booths, and mechanical spa services.
The Smart Tan–certified staff prioritizes keeping up with tanning technology by stocking state-of-the-art tanning beds such as the Sun Angel, which uses sensors to customize a blend of UVA and UVB rays, practically eliminating overexposure and the need to wear a beekeeper suit to detract from a burn. Many beds come equipped with stereo sound systems, misters, and fans. Just down the hall from these beauty gadgets, Mystic and airbrush machines bronze limbs without UV rays or tan crayons, and mechanical spa machines dispense relaxing red-light treatments, infrared-energy body wraps, and aqua massages.
Tan By the Sea in Carlsbad and Deep Tan & Spa in Encinitas keep skin bronzed seven days a week, regardless of the season. To deliver the sun-kissed look of Apollo's cheekbones, the facilities offer tanning beds—which range in intensity from the introductory Sunrise 3500 to the lamp-riddled European high-pressure TurboPower 25000s—as well as VersaSpa chambers that provide summer-worthy façades without the stern gaze of UV rays, misting clients from head to chakra with clear or bronzing solution in as little as 60 seconds. Decorating the salons are swimsuits, sandals by Havaianas, and products by Designer Skin, Hempz, and Australian Gold. In addition to tanning specialists, the spas' teams include aestheticians as well as technicians who can brighten pearly whites with dental-grade treatments.
The geometric parquet of a brick-and-gravel path winds through the lush outdoor patio surrounding Cielo Hair & Skin Salon, acquainting visitors with the salon’s commitment to organic, natural products manifested in all of its haircentric treatments. Stylists usher patrons toward the burgundy-hued styling area, where they peer into individual floor-to-ceiling mirrors to watch new ‘dos unfold beneath cut, color, or texturizing treatments. The salon’s aesthetics team, meanwhile, employs products by Eminence, an organic skincare line from Hungary that utilizes natural ingredients such as pumpkin enzymes to plump up skin, ease acne, and grant skin a luminous glow bested only by a nuclear plant’s disco ball.
For as long as Lisa Johansen can remember, she's always had a passion for beauty. What began as a childhood infatuation with styling her own hair and nails blossomed into a careful path of study that included a 600-hour course in skincare and classes in the use of Murad and Image products. Today, the licensed aesthetician transforms clients out of her own intimate, one-room spa, welcoming them with complimentary champagne and a gentle request to turn off any cell phones or shoulder-mounted boom boxes. The quiet environment allows for optimum relaxation during services such as custom facials and purifying pumpkin peels, and helps lull hair into a false sense of security before it is waxed away from the brows, legs, stomach, or bikini area.
Beneath the shine of 20 Lounge Nail Bar and Boutique, a singular purpose pushes it forward: to bring high-end luxury to the masses. Like a beauty-conscious cousin of Johnny Appleseed, the ever-expanding franchise has planted locations throughout California and Arizona, always pampering its clients with the same menu of services. Therapists, for instance, perform facials using Dermalogica's MicroZone products, which wash away acne, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, or exfoliate the skin. Mani-pedis, on the other hand, polish and dress nails in a rainbow of available colors, rendering their surfaces complementary to freshly waxed legs or accessories such as a freshly opened box of crayons.