Professional Beauty
Professional Beauty



With spray tanning still one of the fastestgrowing areas in beauty, the sector is now entering the bronze age - a time where going for a tan is as crucial to clients’ monthly maintenance as a manicure or lash infill. But why is this?

According to statistics from tanning brand St Tropez, nearly half of women (42%) tan because it makes them “look well” and “feel confident”, and it’s this bodyconfidence factor that salons need to tap into when marketing their services. Team this with the latest trends and you’ll soon see your spray tan revenue increase.

For advice on how to update your menu, we asked the UK’s leading celebrity tanners which looks will be hot this year, and it seems that express tans and formulations that aid skin health will be all the rage in 2020.

Plus, with the BBC’s investigation last year into the rise of illegal tanning products, such as nasal sprays, we asked them for advice on how to warn clients about these controversial issues too.


James Harknett has a tanning residency at the Away Spa at W Hotel in London and is global creative consultant for Fake Bake. He tanned more than 2,500 people in 2019.

Jules Heptonstall is a session tan expert, co-founder and creative director of organic tanning brand Isle of Paradise, and co-host of body confidence podcast Wobble.

Carly Hobbs is a spray tan expert and brand ambassador for professional tanning company Sienna X. Her celebrity clients include TV personalities Laura Whitmore and Claudia Winkleman.

Gary Lipman is chairman of The Sunbed Association UK and Ireland, managing director of Ergoline UK and board member of The Beauty Companies Association.

What will be the big spray tanning trends this year?

Jules Von Heptonstall: Expect a glow like never before as 2020 is the year of the hydrated tan. Kiss goodbye to dull and lifeless matte tans and say hello to oxygen-boosting, skincare-compatible formulas.

Invisible solutions, especially tanning waters, are proving extremely popular with clients because the lack of guide colour means no stained sheets. However, although they are better for clients, these formulations are harder for us experts to apply evenly, but we can adapt to life without a guide colour.

Carly Hobbs: Clients want their tan not only to look flawless but to improve their skin texture too. Look out for solutions with added antioxidants from sources such as green tea and chicory root extract, which nourish and help skin cells fight the ageing effects of pollution, as well as top hydrators like coconut oil.

The frequency of clients’ tanning is also changing. Once upon a time, spray tans were for special occasions, whereas now the year-round tan client is well and truly prominent in the professional beauty market.

Tanning is now as big a focus as nails, brows and lashes, and clients are booking accordingly. This is an ideal marketing tool for salons when it comes to loyalty cards, block booking offers and repeat tan tent sessions.

James Harknett: The desire for express treatments is also trending heavily. People are more time poor than ever and rinsing their tan within two hours is a huge attraction. Also, widen your solution range because it’ll increase your ability to colour-match clients’ skin tone in a world that’s all about customisation.

Which spray tanning looks do you think will fall out of favour?

Heptonstall: The old-school way of tanning - using slow-drying formulations that are heavily scented with cherry and vanilla - will finally die out, with these thick and gloopy solutions being no more.

Clients are exposed to so much of the beauty industry from social media that they now expect only the best, which is why we will also see the decline of contouring during treatment as customers embrace the body positivity movement. Hobbs: Tans that scream fake are edging out of favour too. People want to look healthy, fit and toned instead - like they’ve been away somewhere sunny rather than sporting a blocky, dark-bronzed look.

Have you noticed any regional differences in what clients want?

Harknett: There are major differences in tanning regionally. I find in the North of the county there’s an increased appetite for darker tones throughout the year so they can always have that “out on the town” look, whatever the weather.

However, in London the trend is that no one must know the tan is fake. It’s about coming up with an application that mimics the individual’s natural colour when they tan safely in the sun, and giving them a look of wellbeing rather than making them as dark as possible.

Hobbs: I’ve found the most regional point of difference in treatments to be what clients like to wear in the tanning tent. Paper pants are the chosen attire in the South, while the naked tan is most popular up North - these clients don’t want any white bits spoiling their swimwear looks, which now include high bikini and leg lines.

What innovations can we expect in the sunbed arena?

Gary Lipman: The trend for hybrid tanning, which combines the benefits of UV light tanning and red light skincare with stimulated oxygen production, is set to be big this year. Ergoline has also launched a sunbed that uses UV light alongside blue light, which signals the presence of sunlight to the cells and initiates a faster tanning reaction without risk of burning.

This year, The Sunbed Association UK and Ireland will also be launching a new benchmarking programme. Currently there are no available performance or industry average statistics, such as how per session and retail sales compare with the rest of the industry, or the daily, weekly and monthly numbers of sunbed use. These are questions that will help operators determine how their business is performing.

What are the controversial tanning trends that spray tanners need to warn clients about?

Harknett: Tanning pills, nasal sprays and injections - [which often contain melanotan, an unlicensed medication that has been reported to cause nausea and heart palpitations] - could interfere with the chemical balance in your client’s body. I’ve spent years warning customers about the risks involved to their health from harmful use.

Hobbs: Fake tanning is a safe way to get your glow on, and furthermore, it improves the skin rather than damaging it. Edible tanning gummies, which promise to give clients a nice hue by digesting the sweet, are only likely to disappoint. They are not safe for clients, so assure your customers that seeing a tanning professional is the best way to get their tan fix.

How can the industry do more this year to raise consumer awareness about safe UV tanning?

Lipman: With consumers receiving so many mixed messages about UV exposure it’s important to educate clients about responsible tanning, whether on a sunbed or in the sunshine. All knowledgeable sunbed operators understand that responsible tanning by those able to tan is absolutely fine, it is burning that must always be avoided.

Having properly trained staff who know how to screen for contraindications to tanning and advise customers on responsible tanning programmes is just part of delivering the experience. Engaging with customers and having the confidence from training to answer any questions is an important element of this. PB


The industry’s leading tanning brands will be at Professional Beauty London on March 29-30 showcasing their latest innovations. Get your free ticket at:

This article appears in the February 2020 Issue of Professional Beauty

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This article appears in the February 2020 Issue of Professional Beauty