Safe Alternative?

A new innovation to tanning in Muncie takes a different approach to the conventional baking in the sun or the tanning bed.

A new revolution in self tanning has arrived in the Muncie area.

Airbrush tanning has been available in the Muncie area for about three months. Mirror Images, 4611 North Wheeling Ave., is the only place offering such innovative ways of tanning.

Salon owner, dermatologist Dr. Alexander Zemtsov, says this method is a safe alternative to tanning.

More and more people have been turning to sunless self tanners. When first introduced, topical self-tanning lotions were known to cause streaks and orangish colors on the skin.

Fantasy Tan created airbrush tanning in 1997. Fantasy Tan's CEO Starr Hamson's inspiration came from airbrush make-up - which Hamson had been doing for 20 years. As more self tanners were coming out, she noticed that they were unsatisfactory. She was joking with some tourists about airbrushing a tan, and then decided that this was something that she really wanted to do.

The active ingredient in most sunless tanning products, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), is applied to the skin by airbrush and reacts with the amino acids in the skin to produce the same effect as sun tanning, without exposure to UVA and UVB rays. DHA-free sprays are available for people who have DHA allergies.

Airbrush tanning was declared the best fake tan by Harper's BAZAAR in June 2002.

Some people associate being tan with being healthy and sexy, but tanning can have hazardous effects to the skin. Not only can prolonged exposure to the sun cause skin cancer, but it also increases wrinkles and broken blood vessels.

Airbrush tanning can look better than a real tan because the color variations can be controlled. Zemtsov sees it as a service to the community because people are getting the tan they want without harming the skin.

When getting an airbrush tan, there are a few things to remember. The first eight hours after getting the treatment is vital. Showering, swimming, washing and sweating should be avoided. The tan may streak and the chemicals may wash off before they have taken effect. Tight clothing should be avoided, as well as sitting in one position for too long because the tan can be scraped off. Lotion should be applied to the skin after every shower so the skin stays moist and the tan does not flake off- it is only in the top layer of the skin. When drying off, do not rub the skin- pat it dry. Chlorine, extended exposure to water, acne products, and exfoliating products may lighten or remove the tan. It will begin to fade in 7-14 days, and the airbrushing may be reapplied.

Imperfections are a risk. The wrists and ankles are more difficult areas to spray evenly. Because the formula works with the chemicals in the skin, color variations occur among different people. If the color is not desirable, it washes off in a few days, and dark spots may be lightened with exfoliating washes. The formula used is safe and was FDA approved.

Airbrush tanning offers a healthy alternative to tanning in the sun or in tanning beds.