SAN DIEGO — While the number of Americans flocking to tanning parlors and salons is growing in San Francisco, people in Los Angeles say they’re less likely to patronize them.
In the city of San Diego, where salons were once common, a new study found that fewer than a quarter of those who visit tanning centers annually have visited in the past year, down from around 40 percent in 2012.
The survey by the non-profit Institute for the Study of San Diegos (ISDS) found that less than half of those surveyed said they would patronize a salons or tanning beds if the business had a tanning booth, compared with about one-quarter who said they’d do so if the service had a booth.
The survey also found that people were less likely than in previous years to use a tanner to treat their skin if the salons didn’t offer such treatment.
People who frequent tanning booths say they were once regulars and often came back to do so again because they felt comfortable, said Robert F. Lutz, the institute’s director of research.
But now they’re more likely to visit for reasons such as the smell of the products and the quality of the service, he said.
People in the city are more likely than others to think the business is unsafe, according to the study, which surveyed more than 2,500 people ages 18 to 64.
Nearly half of respondents said they believed the business was unsafe, while nearly one-third said they were unsure.
More than half also said they thought the business could be unsafe, even though there was no indication that there was any safety problem.
And only about one in five of those questioned believed the booths were unsafe, compared to 14 percent in the previous survey.
The results of the new survey were released as part of a broader trend that could result in more Americans staying away from salons, the Institute for Research on San Diego reported Thursday.
A recent study found there were 1.4 million people in the United States who had visited salons last year, and only 2.5 million people who used the services, the study found.
In recent years, salons have become a hot topic among consumers, who say they want to try tanning without going to the doctor.
The industry has responded by saying its products are safe and effective.
Last year, the federal government issued regulations requiring tanning facilities to offer treatments that aren’t advertised, and that they don’t sell to minors.
The industry has countered that its products aren’t as expensive as advertised, as well as that its practices are more ethical.
But a new survey published Thursday by the Institute of Health and Human Services (IHS) found no difference in the quality or safety of tanning services in the two cities.
The findings come as the government continues to regulate the industry.
The FDA recently announced it was investigating the effectiveness of a tannery that is licensed by the state of California and has been in business for almost a decade.
It also said it would consider new regulations to address the issue of the sale of products that aren “harmful” to consumers, including products with names like “poo” or “poop.”
The IHS survey also looked at how salons are perceived by people who visit the facilities.
The institute’s Lutz said that the survey found that those who attend the salon most often were less positive about the quality and safety of the services.
“People are less likely and less confident in the saloon because they are afraid of what’s going on,” he said in a phone interview.
“The question is: Are they seeing the service in a positive light?
Or is it in a negative light?
That’s the key.”