Once they've entered Tropical Tanning, guests face a choice of three doors, but their decision shouldn't exactly be fraught with suspense—behind each door lies high-tech tanning beds with three levels of tanning pressure waiting to gild bodies to the tunes of a built-in radio or iPod docking station. Tanning associates help newcomers choose the right bed, and can also explain the benefits of the tanning creams that adorn the salon's faux tiki bar. Infrared-sauna treatments send beams of warming light into bodies, inducing the same raised heart rate as moderate exercise or really intense chewing. Murals of tropical sunsets, hammocks, and beaches adorn the salon's walls, and a life-size dashboard hula dancer waves goodbye on the way out.
Aestheticians at Vitality Skin Care coax forth deep exhalations, drawing upon Epicurean Discovery's line of natural skincare products to tailor facials and body treatments to individual needs. Cosmetologists work amid racks of Glo Mineral makeup, jane iredale products, and paraffin wax for soothing hands and faking the royal seal on field-trip permission slips. Meanwhile, massage therapists call upon aromatherapy and various modalities to mend aching muscles and balance internal energies, and Infinity Sun airbrush-tan units slip silently across skin.
In addition to beautifying themselves with Southern Exposure's luxurious tanning, nail, and salon treatments, clients treat their backs and bodies to massages from certified therapist Sharon Faria. Faria not only helps clients relax with her healing touch, but she specializes in therapeutic massage modalities such as reflexology, deep tissue, and acupressure for patients with demanding, stressful jobs, or those unfortunate single-jointed souls unable to thoroughly rub the middle of their own back.
The Land Down Under is a continent set beneath a scorching sun—Australian Tan knows, just like Australians, how to harness the light to achieve glowing, bronzy skin. The salon’s faux sun comes from six different tanning booths. The most basic bed imparts a base tan in 20 minutes, while the Instant 770 imparts a rich, long-lasting hue in as few as 10. Meanwhile, the sunless spray-tanning booth houses an automatic system that sprays on UV-free color. Regardless of the chosen bed, the staff can complement sessions with bronzing lotions that enhance acquired tans or help an old trophy get through a midlife crisis with a refreshed façade. Each member of the staff goes through 35 hours of training prior to working in the salon, so they can easily tailor tanning plans to each customer.
A wildly successful alternative to traditional day spas—its more than 300 locations blanket 36 states and half a dozen countries—Planet Beach Contempo Spa is a futuristic relaxation station where state-of-the-art machines administer all the spa and tanning services. These friendly automatons sometimes replace familiar treatments, as in the Luminous facial, a light-based service that delivers blemish-busting results similar to those of a conventional facial. But other equipment maps out new spa territory entirely: the Hydro-Derma Fusion chamber moisturizes the whole body with nutrient-rich steam in order to offset the effects of a dry climate or a rear-end collision with a salt truck. Other machines whiten teeth, spray tan skin, and massage muscles.
Planet Beach operates on a gym-style membership system, meaning that members purchase packages or pay flat monthly rates. As members spend more time at the spa, they get to know the helpful assistants who are always on hand to demonstrate how to use the equipment without activating its ability to cry.
The eponymous owner of Clarisa’s Golden Touch specializes in gilding body builders. She wields a professional spray-tanning wand during each treatment, carefully misting the skin to accentuate each patron’s body and skin tone. Whether patrons want full or partial color, Clarisa creates a comfortable environment with in-studio and on-the-go services. She provides thorough instructions for achieving competition color, suggesting that patrons depilate and exfoliate their entire body in advance of the application. By following these steps and also declining double-dog dares to streak through the car wash, patrons achieve tans that last up to ten days.