Standing room only in search for perfect tan

Mary Braid finds fears at a tanning parlour confined to skin colour

All five booths were constantly occupied. Inside each compartment people stood naked, except for disposable goggles, bathed in ultraviolet light from state-of-the-art, upright tanners.

The obsession with an all-over tan gave the scene a hint of bondage. To eliminate the awful possibility of white underarms customers spent their six to 15 minutes with arms above heads holding ceiling handles.

By 4pm yesterday almost 100 people had passed through the Tanning Shop in the City of London. It was an average day and half the customers were men.

The chatter centred on the shared quest for "healthy, natural brown" skin colour. "That's not bad," said one dark-haired girl as she admired herself in the full-length mirror. The assistant was not satisfied. "We can do better," she promised.

Health warnings have not effected trade. It is pounds 5 for six minutes and the appointment book is bursting, winter and summer. Manageress, Annie Griffin-Peirce, says many customers complain they do not have time to go on holiday. "But they worry they don't look as successful as their tanned competitors."

Jules Greenwall, 30, in computer software, had popped in during a break. "I come here to look healthy," he said. "I sleep too little and drink too much. A tan makes me look better."

Mr Greenwall has been using sunbeds for six years. He ignores health warnings. "I smoke and drink. I am hardly going to worry about sunbeds," he said.

The uprights are popular. On conventional sunbeds you lie in your own sweat. Here, fans rotate as you toast. You can bring in CDs to relieve the boredom or accompany your tummy and buttock tightening exercises. Then it is suit back on, no time consuming shower and back to the office.

Glyn Newcombe, 22, and fellow commodities trader Joan Collins, 41, are having their first upright session. Ms Collins misses tanning in the garden. Mr Newcombe is fair skinned. He has used sunbeds before but burns where his skin touches the machine. He hopes the uprights will be different.

Jonathan Ricks, 22, a computer support officer, says the tanners have cured his acne. "Five months ago my face was a mess. I feel so much more confident now. Four of the five people in my office use sunbeds. It's safer than lying in the sun."

Banking clerk Nicki Bullimore, 22, is stunning. She has perfect skin but does worry. "I use plenty of cream and only use the tanner two or three times a month to keep topped up. I don't think that's dangerous."

The tan obsession has made Adam Mooney, the Tanning Shop's managing director, rich. He opened his first shop in Dublin in 1989. There are now more than 100 in the UK and he has expanded into Europe.

A sunbed user himself he says the latest health warning is "slightly sensational". He says customers are protected by well-trained staff. "Artificial tanning arrived 20 years ago and there has been no higher incidence of malignant melanoma."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
Sport
Sean Abbott
cricketSean Abbott is named Australia's young cricketer of the year
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Partnership Sales Executive - TV

competitive + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: An award-winning global multi-media...

Sauce Recruitment: Account Director

£26017.21 - £32521.19 per annum + OTE $90,000: Sauce Recruitment: My client is...

Recruitment Genius: Linux Systems Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of UK Magento hosting so...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Development Manager - North Kent - OTE £19K

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea