BACKSTAGE WITH THE BOTTLED SUN-TAN SET

Among stay-at-homes who want that Florida look, one pitchman does it up brown

FRANKLIN RUSSELL April 23 1960
BACKSTAGE WITH THE BOTTLED SUN-TAN SET

Among stay-at-homes who want that Florida look, one pitchman does it up brown

FRANKLIN RUSSELL April 23 1960

Among stay-at-homes who want that Florida look, one pitchman does it up brown

BACKSTAGE WITH THE BOTTLED SUN-TAN SET

LAST SUMMER millions of Americans began turning themselves brown with lotions guaranteed to produce a “sun” tan, and a Toronto promoter named William Soroc began turning green with envy. U. S. manufacturers were selling more than a million bottles a month of Man Tan, Tan Tone, Positan, Tan-o-Rama and others. Soroc wanted a Canadian franchise.

Man Jan turned him down. Then Soroc discovered there was nothing to stop him buying the basic ingredient (dihydroxyacetone) and bottling his own brand. He set up Fleet Laboratories Ltd. and got into production in February with Sir Tan.

Now, with Sir Tan selling almost as fast as Fleet Labs can screw on the caps, competitors (Ur Tan, Sur Tan, Kwik Tan) are hustling for a share of the market. Soroc claims some fly-by-nighters are even bottling their own brands in their basements and peddling them door to door.

Though Soroc’s ads read like updated versions of a medicine man’s

pitch (“It’s spreading across the face of .the nation!"), they're basically true. Sir Tan will “give you that just-back-from-Florida tan in just six hours.” And despite waitand-see warnings from the U. S. magazine Consumer Reports, Canadian and U. S. health authorities say they’re pretty sure the lotions are harmless. Dihydroxyacetone is a sugar substitute developed in the

20s for diabetics. Later, somebody learned that it reacts with human skin pigment, turning it brown.

But there arc drawbacks: the lotions can leave high-water marks or go streaky; careless users get splotchy hands. Worst of all. “nothing takes it off except bleach,” moans one CBC actor.

With Soroc also urging women to “buy Sir Tan for the man in your life—then use some yourself,” the conventional make-up market is suffering. But cosmetic companies say they’re not worried. “It's a fad,” says a Max Factor spokesman.

Fad or not, Sir Tan may have trouble meeting Soroc’s 300,000bottle quota for '60. Man Tan, the States’ biggest seller, is muscling in. “Anything Sir Tan sells, we’ll sell more when we get going here,” a Man Tan executive boasted to Maclean’s.

Soroc’s hoping to meet the threat by giving the girls a more thorough tanning. Soon Soroc will have yet another label for the same old dihydroxyacetone: Eve Tan.

FRANKLIN RUSSELL