Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
With the thick of winter comes the peak of pasty skin. Sure, sunless tanning options abound, but those who seek out clean, organic skincare might feel a bit lost. At least until they meet Blush Tan. Having grown out of its original Wellesley space, Christina Kauffman's spray tan business moved into a new spa-like spot last month at 562 Washington Street in Wellesley Square.
Formulating her organic tanning solution one-on-one with fellow Massachusetts company Aviva Labs, Kauffman has appealed to an audience seeking a chemical-free faux glow since 2010. A natural, water-based, hypoallergenic and oil-free product product complements the easy-to-digest service menu of various speed formulas ranging from $45 to $65 for a full body tan. Want the scoop on the harm of traditional sunless tans? Kauffman explains.
What makes a typical sunless tanning formula so bad versus an organic alternative?
Basically if you look at other formulas besides ours you'll see upwards of 50 ingredients, a lot of them containing chemicals, formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, oils which can clog pores, alcohol which will dry out the skin. A lot of mumbo jumbo that isn't necessary to get the perfect spray tan. Our solution has the highest quality DHA. It's eco-certified organic, derived from beets.
When do you think the natural skincare movement started to penetrate the sunless tanning market?
When people are putting something on their body they want to know what it is, they want it to be organic. More and more people are caring not only about the beauty part but the health aspect as well. We want to provide something that is healthy, that we can back up and be proud of.
Tell us about your new studio location.
We moved downtown [Wellesley] where not only do we have more visibility, but we can tan four to five people at a time. We don't have to turn anybody away.
And you did the interior design yourself. How is the new space different? What are the defining characteristics of the salon?
I rebranded a little bit and tried to give a spa-like experience. We give a mini consultation before service and all the girls working here get the same training I do at the Health and Wellness Academy. We changed our logo to a white, clean, modern feel. Other tanning salons are more black and dark brown. You see girls in bikinis—that is not what ours is like. You'll see our posters and branding materials are more conservative. Real women, real photos of natural, healthy looking tans.
So you're working with a fellow MA company, Aviva Labs. Do you have any insight on why natural beauty companies are a growing trend here or if there are resources here that speak to that kind of industry?
I'm going to tell you a little secret about all of these products. If you call a lot of places and ask who made their solution they'll say "We made it ourselves" or "We don't disclose that." What happens is they are not making it themselves; they outsource their product to whichever manufacturer gives the cheapest price. With us, we formulate at Aviva Labs. They are all about health and wellness. We've used their other products from the beginning. You can have confidence that you'll get the same product and quality ingredients every time.
What is customizable about the Blush formula?
We have about ten different bases. Not just color level but we can also customize color base.
Do you formulas have any anti-aging ingredients in them?
Actually we are going to release our anti-aging product this spring. We definitely want to make sure it's perfect. There will be a few naturally derived anti-aging ingredients like caffeine and hyaluronic acid. It will come out in our 30 minute tan where you can actually go home and shower in as soon as 30 minutes. You don't have bronzer on at all. The tan will still develop over the next eight to twelve hours but it helps to take the high maintenance out of service.
Some people have a hesitation about stripping down in front of a stranger for a spray tan. Do you have words of wisdom for them in mentally preparing?
We ask everyone to undress to their comfort level. Wear a strapless top and shorts if you want. Or we'll do just your legs or arms and face. If you do want to, then just know this is something we do every day. Every twenty minutes there's a new topless person in there. It's not weird for us at all. We always start at the back so we ease into the nudeness, and we'll be talking to you the whole time about your weekend plans. You don't even realize it.
How do you think sunless tanning will continue to innovate?
I definitely think the rapid tan is going to come out more. And I know right now the industry was rated one of the fastest growing industries, so there will probably be a lot more people coming out with products, and hopefully something that even lasts longer or retail products that are easier to take home. I know the anti-aging thing is what we're looking at next. When we release that product it will be the first oil-free and hypoallergenic anti-aging rapid sunless tan. It's the only one on the market and we have the backing of Aviva Labs. I'll probably also distribute it to other salons in the area, Boston as well.
Sounds like a partnership that reaches beyond Blush.
I'll also be working with Mitch Bloom, the founder and owner, on a new masters course to offer to other salon owners and teach them about the business side of our industry. A lot of them have a beauty background whereas mine is in business, so hopefully I can help out with marketing, planning, and client retention.
· Blush Tan [Official Site]