With the end of summer nearing, Brian Lejeune, owner of Solar Infusions on High Street, is running a new promotion to help folks continue catching the rays. Starting Aug. 13, customers will enjoy unlimited tanning for just $88 through the end of 2012.
“It’s a great deal,” he said. “People are getting about four and a half months for a really good price.”
Lejeune explained that many Solar Infusions clients begin tanning for cosmetic reasons. But when they discover the health benefits, he’s found, they continue with sessions.
"It's fun to teach people the science of tanning, the biology of how the body responds, and why it makes them feel good - what happens to their bodies biologically with the production of vitamin D, which helps metabolism, sleep issues, muscle production and cancer fighting benefits."
"Technology has changed a lot, even since 2006-7," he explained. "The latest thing is the incorporation of UV shields over the lamps, to produce a tan, and get the body to produce vitamin D, while preventing burning. The UV spectrum is ideal, the shield blocks out the worst spectrum of UVA and UVB rays to produce desirable results."
Lejeune never expected to get into the tanning salon business. In fact, Lejeune, who is originally from Lynn, while wife Michelle is from Salem, admitted to only actually tanning once in his life prior to owning the salon. The couple, who are both pharmacists, met while at pharmacy school at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in Boston.
While exploring options for business ownership they discovered Sundaze, a popular tanning salon since 1984, was for sale. "I was really into smoothies at the time, and thought maybe a smoothie shop, coffee shop, or a small restaurant," he explained. "I never envisioned myself owning a tanning salon."
Once a deeper understanding of the health benefits were revealed, the science of tanning took root and he was hooked.
"Once I got into it, I was amazed at how popular tanning was. Being a pharmacist, I immersed myself in the scientific aspect of tanning. Sun is life. When you do the research, you know how important it is biologically. The only natural way to produce vitamin D is the way our bodies react to UV rays on our skin. The benefits far outweigh the risks, and to produce it without supplements is the best way."
Lejeune noted that Helio-therapy fell on the back burner when medical technology and antibiotics came to the forefront. "Studies show the further away from the equator you get, the more cases of cancer, why is that?" he questioned. "Diet is one way to get vitamin D, but its not very efficient; it’s in foods that are fatty, like salmon, and milk is fortified, but you would need 40 glasses of milk to equal one tanning session," he said.
He continued, "In the Northeast, this is the only controlled way to get it."
Lejeune explained there have been major advancements to the tanning industry since he purchased the business in 1998, which allow for a more efficient, quicker, controlled type of tan to prevent burning. With the purchase of updated equipment in 2001, a remodel, and the addition of a smoothie bar, the business now known as Solar Infusions blossomed.
"About 50 percent of our regular customers come in just for our smoothies," Lejeune stated. "We use pure ingredients, no syrups, just fruit and fruit juices; we don't pour ours out of a box.” Solar Infusions Smoothies can also be enhanced with nutritional add-ins, such as whey protein, fat stripper blend, and there are even low carb meal replacement.
The Lejeune's have two children, Brandon, 15 and a sophomore at , and Hannah, 12, who attends the and moved to Danvers in 1994. In 2001, the Lejeune's found what they thought was their dream home in neighboring Boxford.
“But we found that everything we were doing was in Danvers, the kids friends, the business was here, it didn’t make sense, we thought ‘what are we doing?” so we moved back.
While growing the business is of primary focus, Lejeune does his part to spread social awareness about the health benefits, and misconceptions, related to indoor tanning. Every October, for breast cancer awareness month Lejeune participates in the Natural Prevention organization D-Feat for Breast Cancer, where the focus is on prevention.
According to Lejeune, "There are new studies popping up in medical journals that estimate for every one person who dies from the result of over-exposure from UV light, 100 die from the results of under-exposure. All of the reproductive cancers, uterine, ovarian, cervical, and breast; as well as prostate and colon cancer-all are linked to vitamin D."
"I truly enjoy the science of it, and that's what kept me in it," he said. "There are a lot of pharmacology and skin care companies who make a living off of scaring people out of the sun. With my years of research and looking at both sides of it...I've learned there are great benefits to indoor tanning. The conditions don't change at noon or seasonally, so it's a very controlled environment."
Although there are no state laws prohibiting tanning for the younger set, there are safety guidelines: Under 18 years of age needs a parents signature, and under 14 years of age needs to be with a parent.