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Tanning beds now toast for those under 18
The Mystic Tan UV-Free tanning is one of the popular choices for teens. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Felicia Alcantar is going to have to find a new way to bronze herself before her next big event.

After Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill last year that went into law Jan. 1 that bans minors from using ultraviolet tanning beds, Alcantar – who said that she occasionally uses the devices when getting ready for dances, weddings and other events – won’t be able to get a “base” by stopping in for a few minutes every week the month prior.

California previously required that minors from 14 to 18 years old needed a parental consent form. California is the only state that bans those 18 and younger from using tanning beds.

But the new law doesn’t say anything about what has become one of the more popular tanning options – the mystic spray tan that doesn’t utilize UV rays.

“I didn’t tan a lot but I did use the beds when I had something coming up that I knew about,” she said. “Now I’ll just switch to the spray tan. It doesn’t last as long but it’s better than nothing.”

According to Sara Fagundes at Planet Beach, the new law only affects a single customer thanks to the business’ diversity as a contempo spa – offering facial machines, massage chairs and beds and a sauna in addition to their tanning beds and mystic spray services.

And according to Fagundes, safety is priority number one at Planet Beach where every new customer is given a skin type survey prior to being placed into a bed to assess how they should best proceed. Even when minors that did have parental consent forms came in to tan, the facility made sure that their parents were in the lobby.

The addition of a computer system that makes sure that nobody is overdoing it – tanning more than once in a 24-hour period – helps promote the overall safety as staff members try to educate people on the processes involved.

“What’s dangerous about UV is burning. The cells that form when your skin gets that red color are bad,” Fagundes said. “It’s important to tan at a moderate rate and make sure that you’re not reaching that point. We give out a skin analysis form and for people that are fair skinned we start them off at only a couple of minutes.”

Then there’s the spray option.

A colored formula loaded with dihydroxyacetone – a sugar-based carbohydrate formula that acts as a skin-dying agent when applied. The treatment lasts several days, Fagundes said, and is popular with people who are going to weddings and events that are scheduled and don’t have the time to come in and lay on a bed.

“It’s a good alternative to UV for people if that’s what they’re looking for,” she said. “It doesn’t last as long but it’s quick and convenient.”

Ashley Smith, on the other hand, prefers the old-fashioned modern way when it comes to tanning.

While she doesn’t quite like the color in the winter, Smith – who tried tanning and didn’t like having to go somewhere else to do it on a regular basis – prefers lying by the pool and relaxing when Mother Nature agrees in the Central Valley.

“It’s just something that was comfortable to me,” she said. “I just like the natural thing. I don’t know if it’s better or if it’s just as bad, but it works for me.”