Thursday, December 3, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 40

Santa Maria Sun / Spotlight

The following article was posted on October 21st, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 34 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 21, Issue 34

Things are looking sunnier for Central Coast tanning salon owners who are finally getting back to business


Cristin Nightingale, owner of Sunkissed Tanning Salon in Santa Maria, had always wanted to own her own salon, “even since high school.” In mid 2019, she decided to take the leap.

“It was a long process,” Nightingale recalled. “I had to find the spot, get the [tanning] beds, decorate it, and all that fun stuff.”

Sunkissed Tanning Salon owner Cristin Nightingale opened her salon just days before state orders forced personal care services like hers to shut down. Now, she’s finally able to open her doors again.

But as the salon’s March grand opening date neared, Nightingale started to get nervous: More and more COVID-19 cases were cropping up across the state.

“I already had the flyers made, it was already set in stone,” she said. “We had to open.”

Sunkissed Tanning Salon opened on March 15, the day that Santa Barbara County reported its first case of COVID-19. Nightingale was forced to close her doors just four days later. 

Now, more than half a year later, personal care services like tanning salons are allowed to reopen, so long as the county they’re in stays in the red tier in the state’s reopening system. 

Santa Barbara County allowed salons to reopen indoors as of Sept. 30, and SLO County’s salons were given the go-ahead at the end of August.

But Nightingale is still recovering from the losses.

“It was kind of a roller coaster,” she said. “But I also feel that everything happens for a reason and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

On another part of the Central Coast, Haley Murphy—owner of OATS, Organic Airbrush Tanning Salon, with locations in San Luis Obispo and Orcutt—said it was a grueling few months. 

“Right before COVID I was just going into my busiest time of the year because wedding season was starting,” Murphy said. “So basically right when I was starting to get busy was right when we had to close down.”

Murphy said the mortgage company for her SLO location gave her a three month deferment for payments, which helped her make it through. But at her Orcutt location, Murphy said she had to pay rent as she normally would.

“Unemployment took almost two months to kick in,” she said. “I’m still dealing with the anxiety and the stress of it, but luckily I don’t need to close either one of my locations down.”

In the face of these hardships, both Nightingale and Murphy are finding ways to stay positive and keep their businesses alive.

“I’ve been the face here. I’ve been working 12-hour days, and I’m the only employee,” Nightingale said. “This is all me: I came up with the logo, the name. … I want people to know me.”

Murphy said that in order to incorporate required sanitization procedures, she has to space out her appointments more now—but this change came with a positive side effect.

“At first I was kind of bummed about that,” she said. “But it’s actually kind of a fortunate thing because it allowed me to give a better service. I’m able to talk to my clients more and not take it so fast-paced.”

As she reopens, Nightingale’s Sunkissed Tanning Salon offers both tanning beds and custom airbrushing.

“I have a really cool bed named the Sunboard XTT … that allows only a small percentage of the UVB rays,” she said.

Murphy said that OATS specializes in airbrushing, and she also offers lash extensions.

“I wanted to offer a healthy, organic alternative to going out into the sun,” Murphy said. “My mom had skin cancer really bad, so I grew up with her telling me, ‘Don’t go in the sun.’ So spray tanning became huge for me.”

As for adapting their business operations to the pandemic, both salon owners said that their services easily accommodate for mask wearing, social distancing, and sanitation.

“I just maintain the cleanliness that I normally do,” Nightingale said. “I’ve always wiped down everything that anybody could touch.”

Sunkissed Tanning Salon is located at 325 E. Betteravia, suite B-11, Santa Maria. Visit for more info. OATS is located at 630 High St. in SLO and 3558 Skyway Dr., suite A1, in Orcutt. Find them online at and, respectively. 


• The SLO Food Bank has been selected as a 2020 California Nonprofit of the Year by California Association of Nonprofits and Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo). The SLO Food Bank is one of more than a hundred other nonprofits that will be honored by their state senators and Assembly members for their contributions to the communities they serve. For more information about the organization or to learn how to get involved, visit or email 

3C-REN, the Tri-County Regional Energy Network, is transforming building efficiency and developing environmental resilience with new programs and learning opportunities each month. In recognition of October being National Energy Awareness Month, 3C-REN is offering business and industry-focused educational webinars on topics like CALGreen requirements, solar photovoltaics, carbon-free homes, and passive house retrofits. For a full list of educational and training programming, and to register for the events, head to 

Staff Writer Malea Martin wrote this week’s Spotlight. Send tidbits to

Weekly Poll
Would a second stay-at-home order be effective at slowing the spread of COVID-19?

No, pandemic fatigue is too high to get people to follow a stay-at-home order.
Yes, we need it, otherwise our hospitals will be in rough shape.
Local governments should get a say—not all purple tier counties are the same.
It would be bad news for the economy.

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