Cheat the Beach and its sister company, Bikinis-N-Martinis, offer mobile tanning services in the comfort of customers’ homes. The companies specialize in one-on-one airbrush tans for competitors at bodybuilding and fitness events, as well as group tans at bachelorette — and bachelor — parties, weddings, showers, proms, holiday gatherings and photo shoots. Not only does the spray tan result in a natural-looking color, but it blends in blemishes and camouflages veins, cellulite and stretch marks, according to founder Laurie Hagstrom.
She supplies all the necessary equipment, including a tent for mess control and privacy, since most people prefer to be sprayed in the buff. Revelers can supply their own martinis or beverages of choice.
In an era when savvy tan-lovers eschew the sun and its damaging rays and might be wary about tanning beds, more people are turning to airbrush tanning, Hagstrom said. Though towel tans have become increasing popular, too, she said she believes the spray offers more even and fuller coverage.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 2 million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year — and that’s just in the United States. “Most people get skin cancer from too much sun — or tanning beds,” according to academy officials. “Research shows that indoor tanning (e.g. tanning beds, sun lamps) increases a person’s risk of getting melanoma by 75 percent.” With an art degree from San Diego State University, Hagstrom started her tanning business in 2007. She also offers a line of skincare products custom-made by her own chemist.
“I didn’t like the color of the products on the market and how they dried,” she said.
She completes a full-body tan in 10 to 15 minutes using a high-pressure, low-velocity sprayer with an odorless spray solution of DHA (dihydroxyacetone) and mineral salt bronzers. Hagstrom offers seven customized levels of color, depending on each client’s skin tone and the desired level of tan.
Knowing the correct level of DHA to use is important because too much DHA can turn the skin orange, Hagstrom said.
“People think they can get super, super dark, but a fair-skinned person can only get so dark without turning orange,” she said.
The trick is for the tan to end up looking natural, she said.
“You can’t tell a good spray tan from the real thing,” said Hagstrom.
Her tans last up to a week or more, depending on skin type and how well clients follow her tanning tips, she said. Regular moisturizing and tan-extension products can prolong the life of the tan.
Though she makes the process seem easy, it’s not, she said. She works with both hands, spraying and blow-drying as she goes.
“A good spray tan is 90 percent person and 10 percent product,” Hagstrom said.
Originally from Minnesota, Hag-strom said she loved to bake in the sun when she was younger.
“I used baby oil and tin foil,” she admits.
But after she had some pre-cancerous spots removed, “I said I’m done with the sun.”
The cost for a tan party for five or more is $45 each, and the hostess or host tans free.
Hagstrom said she’s busiest during the spring wedding season. But people call her year-round seeking spray tans “instead of baking in the sun.” The fall season in San Diego is busy because it’s still warm enough “for people to show skin,” she said.