Walking into Kathleen Jowdy’s airbrush tanning salon, Get Glowing, clients are greeted with the statistic that people who use tanning beds increase their melanoma cancer risk by 75%. By airbrush spray tanning, clients are reducing their risk of developing skin cancer, she said.
According to the Melanoma Foundation of New England’s website, melanoma is the most common cancer among women aged 25 to 32 and the New England states have a higher than average rate of melanoma.
Opening Get Glowing is part of Ms. Jowdy’s crusade against skin cancer and keeping skin youthful and healthy, she said. Part of her mission is to educate high school- and college-aged girls on the dangers of sun tanning, both outside and in a tanning bed.
She said that by encouraging younger girls to start spray tanning and taking care of their skin now, they won’t have damage to undo later on.
“There is a big misconception with skin cancer that it can just be scraped off,” she said. The scars it leaves can be huge, she said. “They have to dig it [the cancer] out.”
A lot of the clients that Ms. Jowdy sprays have had melanoma, including a 19-year-old girl, she said.
In 2012, Brazil outlawed tanning beds altogether, she said, and New South Wales, Australia, will be banning tanning beds in 2014. Many states in the United States have passed or are working to pass legislation to ban tanning beds for people under the age of 18 or require parental consent for their use. In Connecticut, there is a requirement for parental or guardian consent for a person under 16.
A healthy alternative to keeping skin glowing and tan, Ms. Jowdy said, is by airbrush spray tanning.
“Spray tanning was made popular in New York or L.A. and was more of a luxury. It was $70 to $150 per session and was geared for models or actresses,” said Ms. Jowdy. “Now it is more mainstream and prices are more reasonable. I made mine to be about the same cost as a manicure or pedicure — so it’s affordable to do every week.”
Ms. Jowdy also wants people to rid the idea that spray tans just make people orange and streaky.
When spray tanning was first introduced, it was done in a stand-up stall that sprayed the front and back of a person.
“There was one solution for every person, which made them orange,” she said. “The technique has been perfected to be applied by hand with an airbrush, and I custom blend the solution for any skin tone.”
Ms. Jowdy said many clients have come to her to fix a bad spray tan.
“They’d be oversprayed, uneven and streaky,” she said. “I want my salon to be about consistency — perfect results every time.”
Before opening her own salon, Ms. Jowdy would spray clients at a salon in Bethel.
“I found that a lot of my clients were coming up from Greenwich, New Canaan and Darien, so I found this location to be in the middle,” she said.
Get Glowing is located on Route 7 at 280 Ethan Allen Highway in Georgetown.
In order to find the right tanning solution, Ms. Jowdy tested multiple brands before she settled on the one she uses today. She practiced spraying herself and then other people.
“The tan lasts five to seven days and takes 10 minutes to apply,” she said. “A lot of my clients come once a week to maintain a glow all year.”
It is recommended that clients schedule an appointment the day before an event to give the solution eight to 12 hours to settle.
“I also have a rapid developing spray that takes four to six hours to settle. If a client has an event Saturday evening, they can come in Saturday morning and be tan for the event,” said Ms. Jowdy.
A spray tanning session at Get Glowing costs between $40 and $50, including the pre-spray. Pre-spray moisturizes, exfoliates and balances the pH of the body Before the tan is applied. It makes for a more even coverage, and balancing the pH prevents the skin from turning orange, she said.
“Salons around here are higher, they charge around $70 to $75 per session and don’t include the pre-spray,” said Ms. Jowdy.
The brand of solution Ms. Jowdy uses is a secret, she said, but it is organic and has a the DHA [dihydroxyacetone] enzyme in it.
“It is a sugar derivative and is FDA proved for external use,” she said.
The tanning solution does rub off onto clothing and sheets, but it is a water-based solution so it washes out, she said.
Ms. Jowdy has sprayed about 1,500 people and she’s never had anyone get a rash or allergic reaction to it, she said.
“It is for all skin types and colors and I do the appropriate skin tone for the season,” said Ms. Jowdy.
Recently Ms. Jowdy went to the University of Connecticut to spray-tan girls in a sorority, she said.
“I go to UConn and spray three sororities before events and dances. Each time I go, it [the number of girls] increases. This time I sprayed 37 girls. That’s 37 girls that didn’t make five appointments each at a tanning salon. And the spray tan lasts just as long,” said Ms. Jowdy.
Get Glowing is open Wednesday through Friday from noon to 8 p.m.
Ms. Jowdy said people don’t think about what will happen to their skin in the future or aging when in the sun.
“I wish I never went in the sun; I’m trying to undo the damage,” she said.
Ms. Jowdy wants women to know that airbrush spray tanning looks natural and is a safe alternative to tanning booths and beds.
For more information or to schedule a session, call 203-826-9557 or 203-512-5053.