Using a sunbed is a health risk to anyone. But for people with fair skin that burns easily or those under 18 the potential for lasting and serious damage significantly increases. Despite these risks, eight sunbed operators in our latest mystery shop allowed a person with fair skin to use a sunbed. Three operators also allowed an underage shopper to have a sunbed session.
Join today and get instant access to all test results and research.
This year our mystery shoppers visited 68 sunbed operators to check compliance with the voluntary sunbed standard (with the exception of Auckland, sunbed operators aren’t regulated). As part of this, we sent underage shoppers and people with fair skin to 36 sunbed operators.
The sunbed standard recommends people with type 1 skin (fair skin that burns readily or never tans) shouldn’t use a sunbed. But only eight of 16 operators turned our fair-skinned shoppers away.
Operators that allowed our shoppers to use a sunbed did some type of skin assessment. Frankleigh Park Sunbeds used a skin colour chart, Body Bronze Manukau and Studio 128 checked our shopper’s complexion, and five operators used a skin assessment form to determine the shopper’s skin type.
The Ministry of Health draft guidelines for sunbed operators include a questionnaire to determine a person’s skin type using the Fitzpatrick classification system. The questionnaire asks about genetic factors (eye, hair and skin colour, and number of freckles), reaction to sun exposure, and tanning habits. Points are allocated for each question and the total score gives your skin type. There are six skin types. A score of zero to seven is skin type 1, a score of eight to 16 is skin type 2.
Bliss Beauty Hair & Nail Spa and Configure Express Lambton Quay in Wellington assessed our shoppers as having type 1 skin but still allowed them to have a sunbed.
MegaSun Suntanning Clinic Central Auckland told our shoppers they were skin type 2. We asked for a copy of its skin assessment form and found differences to the Ministry of Health questionnaire.
The MegaSun form classifies type 1 skin as zero to four points, skin type 2A as five to seven points and skin type 2B as eight to 14 points. Our shopper was in MegaSun’s 2A category, which meant she was type 1 in the Fitzpatrick scale.
The MegaSun form also has different points for the same question. Having blue, green or grey eyes gives two points, but the Ministry of Health form gives a score of zero or one for blue, green or grey eyes, depending on how dark the eyes are. MegaSun also gives additional points for the ancestry of your parents, regardless of whether you’ve inherited any of those characteristics.
MegaSun acknowledges the differences with the Ministry of Health guidelines and is changing its form, which will include a new skin type chart.
Waikato District Health Board dermatology unit clinical director Dr Marius Rademaker says a problem with skin-type questionnaires is that the answers are always subjective.
“Looking at a person’s skin is not a particularly good way of discriminating between skin type 1 and 2, and studies have shown there are limitations to using patient-reported appearance to predict individual risk and self-reported burning,” he says. Dr Rademaker believes the tanning industry needs to take a precautionary approach to people with skin type 1 and 2.
The Ministry of Health is consulting on proposals to regulate the sunbed industry (see A tougher stand). All staff would need to be trained in how to determine skin types and set exposure times. Operators would be discouraged from allowing skin types 1 and 2 from using their services.
|Region||Operator[sort]||Fair skin refused a sunbed[tick]||Region[hidden;sort;asc]|
|Auckland||Actuelle Beauty Therapy Clinic, Pakuranga||Yes||1|
|Auckland||Body Bronze, Manukau||NoA||2|
|Auckland||Elaines, St Heliers||Yes||4|
|Auckland||MegaSun Suntanning Studios, Central Auckland||NoB||6|
|Wellington||Amadeus Hair & Sound Studio||Yes||10|
|Wellington||Bliss Beauty Hair & Nail Spa||NoB||11|
|Wellington||Classic Tan Solarium||Yes||12|
|Wellington||Configure Express Lambton Quay||NoB||13|
|Wellington||House of Beauty, Mana||NoB||14|
|Wellington||Studio 128, Johnsonville||NoA||15|
|Wellington||Water Lilly, Johnsonville||NoB||16|
|New Plymouth||Devon Beauty Boutique||Yes||17|
|New Plymouth||Frankleigh Park Sunbeds||NoC||18|
|Opotiki||Talking Heads Hair Studio||Yes||19|
|Invercargill||Bronze Connection Hair Beauty & Suntan Clinic||Yes||20|
GUIDE TO THE TABLE OUR MYSTERY SHOP took place in November 2015 and was funded by the Ministry of Health. OPERATORS have their location listed to clearly identify the business. FAIR SKIN REFUSED A SUNBED Achecked complexion. Bcompleted skin assessment form. Cused skin colour chart.
The more you use a sunbed and the younger you start, the higher your risk of getting skin cancer. According to the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) using a tanning device before the age of 30 increases the risk of melanoma by 75 percent.
Despite having warning notices under-18s shouldn’t use a sunbed, three operators allowed our 15- or 16-year-old shoppers to have a session.
At Natural Lines in Christchurch our shopper filled out a form, which included her date of birth. However, the staff member still allowed her to have a session without checking the form. At Configure Express in Dunedin our shopper was told she could fill out the form after she’d had the sunbed. At Sloanes Hair Design, our shopper neither filled out any form nor was asked her age.
Anigma Beauty Therapy in Palmerston North and Here for Hair in Christchurch refused our underage shoppers but advised they could come back with parental consent.
|Region||Operator[sort]||Minor refused a sunbed[tick]||Region[hidden;sort;asc]|
|Hamilton||Vivo Hair and Beauty||Yes||2|
|Hamilton||Viva Health & Fitness||Yes||3|
|Palmerston North||Anigma Beauty Therapy||YesA||4|
|Palmerston North||Capelli of George Street||Yes||5|
|Palmerston North||Configure Express||Yes||6|
|Palmerston North||Studio 31||Yes||7|
|Palmerston North||The Right Cut Hair & Beauty Retreat||Yes||8|
|Christchurch||Accent on Nouveau||Yes||9|
|Christchurch||Body and Soul, Sydenham||Yes||10|
|Christchurch||Carlton Hair Corp||Yes||11|
|Christchurch||Here for Hair, North Redwood||YesA||12|
|Christchurch||Riccarton House of Beauty||Yes||14|
|Christchurch||Shoreline Fitness Centre, New Brighton||Yes||15|
|Christchurch||Sloanes Hair Design, Bryndwr||No||16|
|Dunedin||All Tan Sunlounge - Elegance on Hanover||Yes||17|
|Dunedin||Hairhunters Hiz & Herz Salon||Yes||19|
|Dunedin||Stylz Hair Design||Yes||20|
GUIDE TO THE TABLE OUR MYSTERY SHOP took place in November 2015 and was funded by the Ministry of Health. OPERATORS have their location listed to clearly identify the business. MINOR REFUSED A SUNBED Arefused a sunbed but advised they could have one with parental consent.
We also sent mystery shoppers to check whether operators were complying with other safety requirements of the standard. Thirty-two out of 58 operators met all nine criteria we assessed. In previous years, we’ve seen an improvement in overall compliance but not this year. Forty-five percent of operators failed to implement basic checks (compared with 40 percent in our previous survey).
Mondaya For You Beauty Clinic in Taupo was the worst performer. It didn’t present a consent form for our shopper to sign, it offered no skin assessment, it had limited warnings in the tanning area, and inadequate eye protection. When our shopper asked for eye protection, she was given a small towel to cover her eyes. All other operators provided protective goggles or eye stickers.
The Mondaya staff member also told our shopper she could come in whenever she liked and choose how often she had sunbeds. The standard recommends at least 48 hours between sessions.
Consent form: On a customer’s first visit, the standard states they should sign a consent form. The form should cover:
Forty operators complied with this guideline (down from 47 last year).
Skin assessment: Staff should assess a customer’s skin as certain skin types are more susceptible to UV damage. Sunbeds should never be used by:
Forty-four operators complied with this guideline (down from 49 last year).
Eye protection: UV rays can damage your eyes and increase your risk of getting cataracts. A sunbed operator should provide goggles that form a tight seal around the eyes. Fifty-seven operators provided goggles or eyewear stickers (down from 60 last year).
Follow-up session: The standard recommends waiting at least 48 hours before any follow-up session. Fifty-two operators gave the correct response (up from 47 last year).
Warning notices: The standard asks for warning notices in the reception area and tanning cubicle. These notices should warn of the risks from UV light and state people at greater risk (under 18, or with fair skin that burns easily) shouldn’t use a sunbed. There should also be reminders to use eye protection and to not use a sunbed again within 48 hours. Fifty operators displayed all warnings in either the reception area or tanning cubicle – some operators displayed warnings in both (up from 48 last year).
Check out the full results of our safety checks survey here.
Last year, we made a complaint to the Commerce Commission about 12 operators displaying a “Light is Life” poster, which claimed tanning was a natural process and UV exposure, in moderation, was a necessary part of human life. The poster also claimed sunbeds are a great way to get your controlled dose of UVB/vitamin D.
The commission concluded the poster contained statements that may mislead consumers and breach the Fair Trading Act.
The commission advised operators to take down the poster, so we were disappointed Studio 128 in Wellington and Halswell Total Eclipse Beauty Therapy in Christchurch were still displaying the poster. We’ll be following this up with the commission.
The Health (Protection) Amendment Bill will make it illegal for operators to allow under-18s to have a sunbed. The bill is waiting to be passed into law.
When the bill was considered by select committee, a number of submitters, including Consumer NZ, thought it didn’t go far enough and called for a ban on sunbeds. They are banned in most Australian states and Brazil. The IARC classifies tanning devices as “carcinogenic to humans”, which is its highest cancer risk category.
The Ministry of Health has released a consultation document on options to further regulate the industry. The ministry’s preferred option is for sunbed operators to be licensed and meet mandatory safety standards.
Our surveys of sunbed operators continue to find poor practices in this industry. Submissions on the consultation document close on 12 February. Consumer NZ will be recommending a ban.
By Belinda Castles.
|Region||Operator[sort]||Consent form guidance compliance[tick]||Skin assessment guidance compliance[tick]||Eye protection guidance compliance[tick]||Follow-up session guidance compliance[tick]||UV risks warning[tick]||Fair skin warning[tick]||Under 18s warning[tick]||Eye protection warning[tick]||Follow-up warning[tick]||Region[hidden;sort;asc]|
|Northland||Celtic Curls, Ruakaka||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||1|
|Auckland region||Body Bronze, Newmarket||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||2|
|Auckland region||Counties Fitness & Health Club, Pukekohe||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||3|
|Auckland region||Elaines, St Heliers||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||4|
|Auckland region||Get Brown Tanning, Ellerslie||Yes||Yes||YesAB||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||5|
|Auckland region||Justine's Cosmetics, Albany||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||6|
|Auckland region||MegaSun Suntanning Studios, Ponsonby||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||7|
|Auckland region||Renaissance, Orewa||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||8|
|Auckland region||SkinSense Beauty Therapy & Day Spa Retreat, Devonport||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||9|
|Auckland region||Solaris, Manukau||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||10|
|Auckland region||Sunworld, Takapuna||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||11|
|Waikato||Mondaya For You Beauty Clinic, Taupo||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||12|
|Waikato||Silver Scissors, Morrinsville||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||13|
|Waikato||Solaris Tanning, Hamilton||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||13|
|Waikato||Vivo Hair and Beauty, Hamilton||No||No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||14|
|Waikato||The Hair Boutique, Te Aroha||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||15|
|New Plymouth||Frankleigh Park Sunbeds||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||16|
|Hawke’s Bay||Beauty Rituals, Napier||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||18|
|Hawke’s Bay||Beauty Secrets Day Spa & Beauty Clinic, Ahuriri||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||19|
|Hawke’s Bay||Cameo – Skin, Body, Beauty, Hastings||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||20|
|Hawke’s Bay||The Beauty Spot, Hastings||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||21|
|Bay of Plenty||Forever Suntanz, Tauranga||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||22|
|Bay of Plenty||Te Puke Health and Fitness, Te Puke||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||23|
|Palmerston North||Anigma Beauty Therapy||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||25|
|Palmerston North||Configure Express||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||26|
|Palmerston North||Studio 31||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||27|
|Wellington region||Amadeus Hair & Sound Studio||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||28|
|Wellington region||Bliss Beauty Hair & Nail Spa||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||29|
|Wellington region||Classic Tan Solarium||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||30|
|Wellington region||Configure Express Lambton Quay||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||31|
|Wellington region||Enhance Spa Beauty & Nails, Paraparaumu||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||32|
|Wellington region||House of Beauty, Mana||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||33|
|Wellington region||Snipz Hair & Tanning, Paraparaumu||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||34|
|Wellington region||Studio 128, Johnsonville||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||35|
|Wellington region||Water Lilly, Johnsonville||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||36|
|Nelson||Monterrey Beauty Therapy Boutique, Stoke||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||37|
|Christchurch||Body and Soul, Sydenham||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||38|
|Christchurch||Carlton Hair Corp||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||39|
|Christchurch||Halswell Total Eclipse Beauty Therapy, Halswell||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||40|
|Christchurch||Here for Hair, North Redwood||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||41|
|Christchurch||Riccarton House of Beauty||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||43|
|Christchurch||Shoreline Fitness Centre, New Brighton||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||44|
|Christchurch||Sloanes Hair Design, Bryndwr||No||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||45|
|Christchurch||Ziggs Hair & Body Shop, Woolston||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||46|
|Dunedin||All Tan Sunlounge – Elegance on Hanover||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||48|
|Dunedin||Headway Design, Mosgiel||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||50|
|Dunedin||Stylz Hair Design||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||51|
|Queenstown||The Beauty Room||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||53|
|Invercargill & Southland||Bronze Connection Hair Beauty & Suntan Clinic||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||54|
|Invercargill & Southland||Ebony n Ivory Hairdezign, Gore||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||55|
|Invercargill & Southland||Fred & Gingers Hair & Beauty Salon||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||56|
|Invercargill & Southland||Surrender Hair Design||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||57|
|Invercargill & Southland||Vertigo Urban Image||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||58|
GUIDE TO THE TABLE OUR MYSTERY SHOP took place in November 2015 and was funded by the Ministry of Health. Our mystery shoppers checked whether operators followed key safety guidelines set out in the Australia/New Zealand standard AS/NZS 2635:2008. We did not assess compliance with all parts of the standard. OPERATORS have their location listed to clearly identify the business. EYE PROTECTION Aeyewear stickers. Bgoggles available to purchase.
Our mystery shopper booked a session, told the operator it was their first sunbed, and carried out the assessment in the privacy of the tanning cubicle; they did not use the sunbed.
Once “finished”, they asked when they could return for their next session.
Each session was evaluated against key safety guidelines of the voluntary sunbed standard, AS/NZS 2635:2008 Solaria for cosmetic purposes.
We also sent underage shoppers to sunbed operators in Hamilton (three), Palmerston North (five), Christchurch (eight) and Dunedin (four) to book a session. The standard restricts sunbed use to people aged 18 or over.
The standard also recommends people with type 1 skin (fair skin, often freckled, easily burns or never tans) shouldn’t be permitted to use a sunbed. We sent shoppers with fair skin to operators in Auckland (five), Wellington (seven), New Plymouth (two), Opotiki (one), and Invercargill (one).
Check out more of our tests, articles, news and surveys in our Family & health section.
Keep in touch with what’s new from Consumer. You can stay in the know about our latest tests, consumer rights and issues affecting you.
This information is available to Consumer members only.