There are plenty of reasons clients can give for using a tanning bed, but none of those reasons can match up against the reasons for not using one. You may have a few clients that use them occasionally or some that absolutely refuse to stop, but no matter who your client is, it’s important to have crucial conversations with them about saving their skin, protecting their health, and setting an example for those around them.
ALWAYS DO A SKIN SCAN
You have great access to your client’s scalp, face, and neck during a facial or waxing treatment. Tell the client that you are doing a scan, but that it’s also not a replacement for having an annual skin cancer check by a medical doctor. Educate the client about what you are looking for and if you see something that should get checked. Ask your client if they have noticed any changes in their skin. It also helps to have pictures of exactly what type of moles you might be concerned about, so that you can show them what you are looking for.
HIT IT HARD IN MAY
Over 400,000 cases of skin cancer per year are caused by indoor tanning in ultraviolet light beds. May is Skin Cancer Awareness month, and the Skin Cancer Foundation provides the public a list of places they can go to get a free skin cancer check. You can add your spa to the list by inviting a doctor or dermatologist in for a day to give clients free skin cancer checks and submit it to the website to add to the listings. Your clients might feel less intimidated getting checked for skin cancer in your spa, rather than going to a doctor’s office.
Do you have any previous clients that have had skin cancer? With their permission, create a marketing piece to share their story to educate the rest of your clients. While some of us are destined to get skin cancer no matter how much sunscreen we put on and how much we stay out of the sun, it helps to understand which bad habits may have also led to contracting skin cancer and how much the person might regret those habits.
Let your clients know that you are applying sunscreen to their face at the end of a treatment, explain the ingredients in the sunscreen you use and how it will actually work to combat signs of aging and protect the skin from sun damage and hopefully skin cancer. Ensure that you have a great mix of sunscreens in your retail area for the face, body, children, and sports. It’s also a great idea to have tinted moisturizers that have sun protection factor in them for clients, as well as regular face moisturizers. You can always layer on multiple products that all have sunscreen in them.
If you know that a client is in the tanning bed or not practicing sun safe habits, the best thing to do is have a conversation with them about it. Choose your words and tone of voice carefully, as you don’t want them to get defensive. The goal is to find out exactly why they tan and how much they are tanning. If they are just looking for a glow, suggest that they spray tan or teach them how to properly use a self-tanning lotion. If they are going to the tanning bed to “feel good,” “because it’s warm,” or to “relax;” chances are the issues are deeper and can run along the lines of depression or a behavioral addiction, in this case, known as “tanning dependence.” If their reason for tanning ties into the fact that they hate their skin or they are compulsive with their behavior (for example, memberships at multiple tanning salons), they may have body dysmorphic disorder. A tanning addiction isn’t something to ignore but resolving more serious cases should be left to professionals.
Do not take it personally if you can’t get your clients out of the tanning bed. At the end of the day, it is their responsibility to take care of their own health and skin. All you can do is advise them and give them the tools and information they need to make skin-friendly choices.
Kelly Richardson has over 13 years of experience educating the beauty, spa, and skin care industries on marketing, sunless tanning, and business topics. She is the president of VENONE, a communications and marketing company that supports beauty and skin care brands and businesses.