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A healthier glow

WL business offers safer tanning option

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Stacey Mickey, left, started her organic airbrush tanning business two years ago in an attempt to combat skin cancer risks. Charity Hess, right, is one of her most loyal clients.Growing up in Southern California, Stacey Mickey never had a second thought when she lay outside in the sun or visited a tanning bed.

Mickey’s Irish heritage had dealt her the “pale skin” hand, and she was willing to do whatever it took to add some color to her palette. It wasn’t until later in life that Mickey, who now lives in West Linn, discovered the damage she had done with those seemingly innocent tanning sessions.

In the late 1990s, Mickey was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma — the most common form of skin cancer according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. In the years following, Mickey was diagnosed with the same condition a second time, and just last year she had a precancerous lesion removed from her left arm.

It was a jolt of painful reality for Mickey, but it also motivated her to dive headfirst into the controversial world of artificial tanning. Mickey wondered if there was a safe way for people like her to add color to their skin, and that quest for knowledge ultimately led to Mickey becoming a licensed esthetician and opening her own organic airbrush tanning salon, “Tan Lines Mobile Airbrush Tanning.”

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Mickey's tanning method can travel anywhere, but she operates the business from her home in West Linn.

The salon utilizes an organic, sunless airbrush tanning method that creates color without running the risk of skin cancer further down the line.

The tanning solutions are tailored specifically for each customer’s skin tone, an important distinction compared to the “one color fits all” approach at traditional tanning booths.

“It’s not one color fits all, because we’re not born that way,” Mickey said. “You shouldn’t have a spray tan where you look like an Oompa Loompa.”

So what makes this method safe? Mickey said that unlike ultraviolet radiation, the airbrush tanning solution does not penetrate beyond the skin’s surface, and carries a combination of the coloring agent DHA and vitamins A, C and E.

“It’s not a dye, it’s a chemical reaction in the skin,” Mickey said. “DHA is a simple carbohydrate, so basically it reacts to your dead skin cells ... the sugar reacts to protein in your skin and turns brown.”

The American Academy of Dermatology and Skin Cancer Foundation agree that DHA is the key ingredient for any safe tanning solution, so long as the user also applies sunscreen on a regular basis.

Since she opened the business two years ago, Mickey estimates she has seen more than 100 clients — some on a regular basis, others for special occasions. Adult tans run at $30 in-studio and $40 out-of-studio, while kids are charged a flat rate of $21.

“Really my goal with starting this was to have a healthy glow, but also to sort of influence the younger population,” Mickey said. “When you’re younger, you lie out or you’re in the sun and you look good, it makes you feel good, but the damages that you’ve caused don’t show up until your 30s, 40s and 50s. So yes, you look great and feel healthy, but everything that we do when we’re younger catches up — especially with your skin.”

In 2013, the Oregon Legislature passed a law prohibiting minors under the age of 18 from using indoor tanning devices without written doctor consent. However, Tan Lines’ method was not included as part of the ban.

Mickey’s message spread quickly, and two of her most loyal customers also happen to share a history with skin cancer. Charity Hess, a friend of Mickey’s who used to live in the neighborhood, saw both her mother and father battle skin cancer when they hit middle age. Shari Winters, meanwhile, has suffered two of her own cases of basal cell carcinoma.

“I fell in love with (Mickey’s method),” Hess said. “Because not only did it look natural, but I’m worried about my skin and getting skin cancer and my blood line. Health is why I do it.”

“When you’re younger, if you spend time in the sun, you just don’t think much about it,” Winters said. “A friend of mine knew about Stacey’s business and told me about it — it’s just much safer and convenient.”

To honor Skin Cancer Awareness Month in May, Mickey plans to donate 20 percent of her profits that month to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

According to the foundation, one in five Americans develop skin cancer, and 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are related to ultraviolet radiation exposure.

To learn more about Tan Lines, visit tanlinespdx.com.

By Patrick Malee
503-636-1281 ex
email: pmalee@westlinntidings.com
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by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Having suffered two skin cancer diagnoses, Mickey knows all about the perils of ultraviolet tanning.

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