The indoor tanning business has always been controversial.
Ever since tanning became fashionable in the first half of the 20th century, due to Coco Chanel’s famous Mediterranean cruise where she got too much sun, people have been fascinated and sometimes even obsessed with the pursuit of darker, more bronzed skin tones.
Although primarily people love the look they get when they tan, there are other aspects to the act of tanning that people enjoy, not the least of which is visiting their favourite salon and their favourite tanning bed.
Using a tanning bed, like laying in the sun, is not something to be done irresponsibly. There are certain guidelines that anyone who goes about tanning will want to do.
Near the top of the list of such precautions when tanning is the wearing of proper eye protection.
Without properly shielding your eyes from potentially harmful UV rays, a person can seriously damage their vision.
In fact, in any salon that has a tanning bed, whether laying down or standing up, you need to, by law, protect your eyes. This is why protective eyewear is offered at every reputable salon.
With the right protective eyewear, not only will your tan look better, but your vision will be protected from any damage it might receive from the exposure to UV light that are going to be getting in the tanning bed.
Wink-Ease President Brenda Fishbaugh
Brenda Fishbaugh, president of Wink-Ease protective eyewear, is very familiar with the tanning world, and all of its complexities.
We were lucky enough to chat with Brenda about what makes Wink-Ease not your ordinary protective eyewear for tanning, and about the world of tanning at large, hoping to provide some useful tips and clear up some common misconceptions people might have on the topic of tanning.
Enjoy our little chat!
How long have you been working in the tanning business and how did you get started?
I started in 1991 when a friend, who invented Wink-Ease, asked me to take over the then-failing company, called Eye Pro.
That was 28 years ago, and now, as of 2018, we are in most tanning salons world-wide, and the Eye Pro name is still out there and doing well. The business has seen some great success over the past nearly-30 years.
So, as some people who love to tan know, you are president of the company, Wink-Ease. What are Wink-Ease and how do they work?
Wink-Ease are disposable eye protection designed to protect your eyes in indoor tanning beds.
The FDA (Food and Drug Association) and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), among a host of others, require eye protection be worn when using tanning beds or tanning stand-up units.
Wink-Ease look like a reflective label, and you fold Wink-Ease into a cone. Medical adhesive holds each cone in place, so there are no straps or nose bridge needed.
Wink-Ease stay on with big tanning fans blowing.
One amazing feature is that Wink-Ease are see-through, while blocking ultraviolet light completely, just like sunglasses.
Since you can see easily through them, you have the ability to adjust the fans, facial lamps, misters, and music channels while tanning without taking off Wink-Ease.
We also manufacture Lash Room Wink-Ease, which I invented and hold the patent, which is used for long lashes and there’s also Wink-Ease Dark for red light.
What would you say is the most common misconception about indoor tanning that you know of?
In my opinion, the indoor tanning industry has received a lot of unfair press.
Beachbaby.com is a site to encourage visits to exotic beach locations. Outdoor sun exposure, without proper protection, can burn and damage our skin.
A tanning bed is CONTROLLED UV exposure. Indoor tanning is about NEVER burning your skin, by being exposed to small doses over several weeks, so you tan naturally and gradually.
Indoor tanning offers the same UV exposure as outdoor sun, in a more controlled situation.
The outdoor sun offers benefits of boosting our Vitamin D levels and providing a mood boost and relieving SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and improving skin disorders such as psoriasis.
These benefits have been proven to be available from indoor tanning, also, but tanning salons are not allowed to advertise any of these advantages, as tanning is licensed to provide a “cosmetic tan” and not make medical claims.
Can tanning, indoors or outdoors, potentially damage your skin? Absolutely! But don’t diss tanning beds and then lay in the sun. If you are choosing not to tan, you need to not be exposed to UV outdoors, also.
How much tanning do you do personally and why do you do it?
I love to tan, both indoors and outdoors.
Indoor tanning salons endorse tanning in moderation, so I tan in small doses to build my tan. I’m heading to Florida as I write this, and I’ll be very careful to not burn.
I like a golden glow, no one in the tanning industry wants dark brown skin or leathery skin. I use a lot of indoor tanning tan extenders, which are nutrient rich and don’t have mineral oils in them.
And indoor tanners are big advocates of using specially formulated tanning lotions to moisturize your skin to prevent dry skin.
Ultraviolet light will dry your skin–in tanning beds or outdoors–so its important to moisturize with high quality products if you are exposing yourself to UV.
I grew up on the beach in Connecticut, and so I am happiest by the ocean and in the sun. My husband and I vacation in Florida and like to travel internationally.
My husband is very fair complexioned, so we slather him in quality SPF products.
What’s your favourite type of tanning station when you visit the salon and why?
I tan in both lay down tanning beds and in stand up units. If I’m in business clothes, I will use a stand-up, so I don’t sweat. And I tan in several brands of tanning beds and at several tanning salons.
When I travel, I’ll visit other salons and tan there, just to stay familiar with everything going on in the industry. I don’t own my own tanning bed, just for that reason.
And I always use indoor tanning lotions so I am moisturizing my skin and increasing my tan.
What is the difference between Wink-Ease and other tanning eye protection?
Ultra Gold Wink-Ease and our Lash Room Wink-Ease are made in the USA, where most goggles are made in China. We are an FDA licensed facility and inspected regularly. Do you think that happens in China?
Our disposable eyewear have the best visibility of any eyewear of any type. So I love it because you read your smart phone and still have protected eyes when you wear Wink-Ease. As well as being able to check the time, change the fans and the music channels.
I think goggles have one major flaw and this is why I’ve never manufactured them or sold them: how to clean goggles properly? Your eyes are a mucous membrane, just like your mouth and your genitals. It’s an easy entrance for infections into your body. That’s why your mom told you to keep your hands out of your eyes and your mouth.
If you own your own goggles, you need to wash with antibacterial soap, rinse and dry thoroughly, to keep bacteria from growing in the moisture. And then keep them in a resealable bag. Definitely not loose in your contaminated purse, your disgusting gym bag with dirty shoes and sweaty clothes, or in your car.
If the goggles are cleaned by the salon–don’t get me started. Who wore those goggles before you? Would you use a used toothbrush at a hotel that had been sanitized in tanning bed cleaner? Then don’t put on goggles worn by someone else.
When it comes to UV light, how much of it do Wink-Ease block out, and why would someone want to block UV light anyway?
Eye protection used in tanning beds and sunglasses are regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Association), as well as various other country organizations, such as Health Canada, the IEC and EU.
There are several sets of regulations for different countries, but basically, any indoor tanning eyewear will have a full UV block from 200-400 nanometers. and be see-through to get out of a bed in an emergency.
UV light is tough on the eyes. It diminishes our color vision, our night vision and creates cataracts and a host of other issues. It’s definitely smart to wear sunglasses outdoors and legally compliant eyewear indoors.
Some folks put a towel over your face, and that’s not protecting your face or your eyes. T-shirts, towels and cotton balls are an SPF 5. If water goes through it, UV goes it through it.
What is your relationship with the FDA in terms of your product?
We are compliant with the FDA regulation 21 CFR 1040.20 for indoor tanning manufacturing and we meet Good Manufacturing Practices CFR 810.
We are a Class One Medical Product, along with other disposables like cotton balls and tongue depressors. We are inspected regularly and have a lot of paperwork records we have to keep.
We own our own manufacturing, so we can control our quality much better than most companies. We have had to change our formulation several times to meet various laws in other parts of the world.
Wrapping up, is there anything else you would like to share with our readers in terms of important tanning tips and advice?
The biggest problem we face is getting tanners to wear eye protection in tanning beds. Everyone is worried about getting raccoon eyes! But most wear sunglasses outdoors, where they are getting much bigger panda eyes. Wink-Ease are awesome because they are adjustable and you can make them fit the shape of your eyes.
I always recommend tanners remove their makeup, as makeup is all SPF and can cause large tan lines around eyes. And its always good to move your eyewear a bit so you don’t get any defined lines. If tanners don’t like Wink-Ease, I hope they will wear my competitors’ eye protection.
And I hope everyone will wear their sunglasses outdoors when it’s tanning weather. Our vision is so important and its so easy to enjoy the sun and tanning beds while protecting our vision.
Oh, and by the way – our passion is saving endangered animals and a portion of every Wink-Ease sale goes to help endangered exotic animals.