Sunless Tanning Continues to Soar in the Wellness Industry

Photography: Getty Images

Sunless tanning is a hot topic in the beauty industry. According to statistics from Statistia, self-tanning is now a billion-dollar industry and growing. In 2014, it was estimated at $775.3 million in the U.S., and by 2017, it was just above one billion. And a report by Transparency Market Research, titled Self Tanning Products Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast 2017-2026, found that the demand for self-tanning products continues to grow as companies continue to enhance their formulas. According to the report, by the end of 2026, nearly $5.5 billion worth of self-tanning products will be sold globally.

“Sunless tanning offers a great year-round opportunity to help achieve the appearance of healthier sun-kissed skin,” says Christina Peng, vice president of innovation at Coola. “For many clients, years of overexposure to the sun and/or tanning beds have negatively affected overall skin health, so the popularity of sunless tanning has become a simple way to achieve that same desired, beautiful, all-over glow.”

What’s more, it’s a great opportunity for spas to boost their bottom line, as sunless tanning is a short service with price points that can be $75 and more and only costs them $1 to $2 to perform in product cost, says Veronique Munro, founder and CEO of Infinity Sun and Sprays for Strays, an organization dedicated to fundraising through spray tanning to facilitate the rescue, rehabilitation, and placement of shelter and stray dogs. “It is easy to teach, no formal education is required, and the cost of adding the service is relatively inexpensive,” she says. 

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Today’s sunless-tanning formulas have many enticing benefits, including natural and organic ingredients; new textures, benefits, and delivery methods; rapid release, as residual color washes out in one to two hours; non-sticky textures; quick-drying formulas; no odor; minimal transfer to clothing; and even fades. The sunless-tanning market continues to expand, and the needs and desires of today’s savvy spa-goers are dictating what improvements are made to the formulas. We asked some sunless-tanning experts about today’s formulas, clients, and services, and here’s what they had to say.

In what ways is the sunless-tanning segment growing?

“With more and more natural-looking products, an increasing number of service providers, and mainstream acceptance, this segment is growing at an exponential rate. Expansion includes the following segments: airbrush tanners and mobile spray tanners; beauty bar concepts in combination with brow, eyelash, blowouts, and waxing; and spa services, such as Buff & Bronze.”—Veronique Munro, founder and CEO, Infinity Sun

With so many new sunless-tanning formulas available, how can spas be sure they are safe and effective?

“The market is flooded with many solutions, most still containing many unnecessary and counterproductive ingredients. Consumers should be looking for solutions that contain a high grade of eco-certified DHA (dihydroxyacetone), bronzers that honestly reflect the end-color result, and only additives that offer skin-conditioning qualities. Steer away from fragrances, alcohols, and preservatives. You want your solution to be fresh and made as close to your purchase date as possible. This ensures a fresh and stable product.” —Kylie Robson, vice president of marketing and training, SunFX 


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