It has been a remarkable transformation for an industry that was once a joke. When it was introduced in 1998, Mystic Tan, which is widely credited as the first mainstream spray tan, often resulted in a bathed-in-­Cheetos look. Yet in recent years, spray tan manufacturers perfected their recipes, decreasing the amount of ­dihydroxyacetone—the ingredient that darkens the skin—from 25 percent to just under 10 percent. Now spray tan “artists” have gone from maligned outsiders to wealthy specialists.
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It has been a remarkable transformation for an industry that was once a joke. When it was introduced in 1998, Mystic Tan, which is widely credited as the first mainstream spray tan, often resulted in a bathed-in-­Cheetos look. Yet in recent years, spray tan manufacturers perfected their recipes, decreasing the amount of ­dihydroxyacetone—the ingredient that darkens the skin—from 25 percent to just under 10 percent. Now spray tan “artists” have gone from maligned outsiders to wealthy specialists.
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Great Moments In Tanning History

The Faux Tan Industry
The Faux Tan Industry
It has been a remarkable transformation for an industry that was once a joke. When it was introduced in 1998, Mystic Tan, which is widely credited as the first mainstream spray tan, often resulted in a bathed-in-­Cheetos look. Yet in recent years, spray tan manufacturers perfected their recipes, decreasing the amount of ­dihydroxyacetone—the ingredient that darkens the skin—from 25 percent to just under 10 percent. Now spray tan “artists” have gone from maligned outsiders to wealthy specialists.
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1960
1960
Coppertone unveils QT, the first-ever sunless tanning lotion.
1989
1989
The George Hamilton Sun Care System receives its trademark.
1994
1994
Silvio Berlusconi is elected Prime Minister of Italy.
1997
1997
Fantasy Tan produces what it claims is the first spray-tanning equipment.
2004
2004
Charlize Theron’s deep hue attracts extraordinary attention at the Oscars.
2005
2005
The International Agency for Research­­ on Cancer criticizes the UV bed.
2007
2007
Sunset Tan, a reality show about an L.A. tanning salon, debuts. It lasts two seasons.
2008
2008
David Hasselhoff receives a spray tan between takes on America’s Got Talent.
2009
2009
Jersey Shore premieres.
2010
2010
A 10 percent levy in the U.S. for using tanning beds benefits the spray business.
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2009
2009
Jersey Shore premieres.
2011
2011
The Middleton sisters flaunt faux glows at the royal wedding.