In recent times, tanning salons have witnessed explosive growth, and reports have it that the U.S. tanning industry experienced nearly 75% growth within the last decade. Therefore, if you have a knack for helping people look their best, then consider starting a tanning salon to ride this never-ending wave and also make a good living.

If you’re out for a business that helps you put your passion for beauty and skincare to use, then consider venturing into this business. Aside from the huge potential for success, as the owner of a tanning salon business, you will help your clients look and feel their best daily.

However, before you invest in a tanning salon, you need to understand how to start, market, and run the business. Indeed, tanning salons have proven to be consistently popular, and this makes them a potentially lucrative business venture. Howbeit, don’t forget that there are risks associated with opening any business, and numerous pros and cons you have to consider extensively.

Pros of Owning a Tanning Salon Business

Indeed numerous benefits come with starting and running a tanning salon business. Some of these benefits include;

  1. Creative Freedom

Starting and running your dream business, learning managerial skills, and helping your team can be both a rewarding and wonderful learning experience. When you start your tanning salon, from the beginning you have creative control over the look and feel of your studio.

You will also be able to choose the features of your business like cabinetry, wash basins, styling chairs, and more. From the wallpaper to lighting, to even the music you play, you can create the space you’ve always dreamed of.

  1. Hot Market

Tanning is the rage in this age, and so demand is high. According to reports, the U.S. tanning salon industry is worth $3.9 billion in 2023 after expanding 75% in the last decade. The industry is expected to grow by 4.9% in 2023 and no companies have major market shares in the United States.

These salons are most often seen as luxury services compared with the alternative of self-tanning lotions sold at retail stores. But according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), nearly 10.0 million Americans use indoor tanning services each year, including indoor UV tanning beds and spray tanning equipment.

  1. Multiple Revenue Source

Aside from the fact that these businesses make money on a per-client or a per-visit basis, a good number of them offer more than just tanning services and may even carry accessories such as sunglasses, skincare products, and even bathing suits.

They also tend to have multiple beds and/or spray tan options available and are priced accordingly. Clients’ visits will most often last up to 15 minutes per session and will vary based on the client’s specific needs. Spray tans are billed the same, with salons charging around $25-$50 per visit.

  1. Control Over Your Schedule

Owning a salon gives you control over your schedule. It allows you to choose the dates and times that are ideal for you and you can work with clients to find the best appointment times. Also, note that having a flexible schedule makes it less challenging to book clients and ensures you avoid conflicts with your calendar.

This freedom also ensures that you can work smarter and not harder. It also means that you can focus on what matters most. Opening your open tanning salon means you are your boss and you won’t have to answer to anyone. You also have the benefit of operating your business the way you want.

  1. Expansion Opportunities

A properly managed tanning salon, especially one that has established links with the community, can be a very lucrative endeavor. Year-round, there is always someone looking for a tan. An innovative business owner can easily identify quiet periods and then put together a plan to handle them. Also, note that tanning salons can genuinely serve several customers in a day.

While a hair appointment or other beauty services can last over an hour, clients tend to spend less than 20 minutes in a tanning bed. It simply entails that customers can be coming and going all the time. This is, without doubt, an area of expansion and a well-managed business can purchase more beds, leading to more profit.

Cons of Owning a Tanning Salon Business

Same as with the benefits noted above, there are risks associated with opening a tanning salon business. They include.

  1. High Startup Cost

The cost of starting a tanning salon business can be quite expensive, especially if you intend to make use of tanning beds. Tanning beds are known to be expensive. Coupled with the expense of starting up, other recurring costs can make managing a tanning salon very tricky.

You will also have to contend with energy bills especially since electricity is needed to run a tanning bed. Tanning salon startup costs are wildly variable, depending on the size of your establishment, location, and the types of tanning beds you plan to use in your startup. Total startup costs of $100k+ are typical.

  1. Competition is Fierce

According to the American Tanning Institute, 1 in 10 Americans will visit a tanning salon at some point this year. Generally, there are over 30,000 commercial indoor tanning providers active in the marketplace, serving a customer base of around 30 million tanning enthusiasts.

With that kind of demand, numerous entrepreneurs are starting up their neighborhood tanning salons. New tanning salon owners, however, will have to contend with competitive pressures within the industry. Since indoor tanning is an established industry, your startup will go against entrenched tanning providers, many of which have more or less carved out their segment of loyal customers in the local market.

  1. Administration

As the owner of your business, you will be the one tasked with paying taxes, and insurance and making sure all your inspections and paperwork are up to date. From tracking payroll and inventory to updating the salon’s social media strategy and preparing for tax season, it can be quite daunting to take on all the administration work.

It’s imperative to ensure you possess the proper expertise to own and operate a tanning bed salon before you invest a dime in the business. All your equipment and procedures will be expected to conform to FDA and FTC standards, as well as state-specific laws governing commercial tanning activities.

  1. Losses

Have it in mind that even the most successful businesses might have their slower days, and you will need to be prepared for this in your own salon. There will be times in the year when people are just less interested in getting tans.

Whether the sun is doing your job for you or winter layers means limbs aren’t on show, it’s likely the business will go through quiet patches. As the owner of your tanning salon, it will fall on you to see that staff are paid and expenses are met, even if profits are temporarily low.


Once you open the doors of your tanning salon to the public, that is when the hard work starts. As a new business owner, every action you take should be geared toward achieving business growth. You should also invest your time and effort in staying organized right from the start. Consider leveraging salon software to help you stay organized, optimize your calendar and deal with scheduling and inventory among other things.