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
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine