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With a new 10 percent federal tax kicking in July 1, there's a June gloom descending on tanning salons across South Florida. The tax, which is supposed to generate some $2.7 billion over the next ten years to help cover uninsured Americans, has spooked even the palest Miamians from exposing themselves to fake UVA rays.
Hell, even Jersey Shore's Snooki has left her Miami tanning bed. "You know after the taxing, you don't want to deal with that, and friggin' cancer," the orange-hued fireplug said after turning to a spray tanner.
But the tax on the estimated 28 million Americans who catch their ultraviolet rays indoors each year might be good news for salons that push the spray-on method, which is exempt because it's not considered harmful.
"We've definitely seen an increase in business," says Julia Marrero, owner of Forever Tanning in Brickell and a champion of spray tans. "We don't get taxed. The airbrush method doesn't have the health effects."
Still, there are perils to spraying on a tan if you do it yourself, like Snooki, Marrero warns. "It kind of looks orangey," she says. "If you don't do it professionally, you can get orangey and streaky, like a zebra." And if you don't go with the "clear" spray, even if it's done professionally, "the first day, it will stain your clothes."
So why go through all the hassle and cost — about $45 for an airbrush session — when the sun is free? "People don't have time to go to the beach," says Nelson Silva, who works at Absolute Tan, which offers both sprays and beds — regular, super, and high-pressure.
At Forever Tanning, 80 percent of the clients are locals too busy to let the sun do the work, Marrero says. The rest are booked tourists from up North who worry friends back home "aren't going to believe [they] came to Miami."