Celebrity Tan Technician Amy Maree Campbell Is Changing the Face of Tanning With Island Vibes

Long-time tan tech to the stars turned salon owner, Amy Maree Campbell has seen it all. So when it came to finally launching her own range in Island Vibes, it was vital to Amy that tanning be marketed for every single body, Hannah Gay writes.

Amy Maree Campbell is no stranger to the perfect tan. As a young adult, Amy adored the feel of a fresh spray tan, undergoing weekly treatments while working a corporate sales and event management role. Amy’s mother had faced a melanoma diagnosis, and so for the Bondi locals “it was always drilled into me that you were not allowed to bake [in the sun],” Amy tells Professional Beauty. One bad burn from a solarium at the age of 18 served as a poignant mindset shift for Amy around the damage tanning can do to the skin.

Island Vibes tan launches with diverse campaign
Island Vibes founder Amy Maree Campbell

Tapping into tanning

Amy commenced her makeup training at the Napoleon Perdis training academy formally based out of Paddington, NSW nearly two decades ago. This was followed by a trip to Beverly Hills, where she undertook further training with celebrity makeup artist, Kimberley Bosso. She went on to learn the art of spray tanning with additional qualifications from Divine Tanning and TAFE NSW. Amy later dipped her toes into hairdressing, undertaking a course at the former Suki Hairdressing salon.

While hairdressing was ultimately not for her, Amy focused her attention into freelance spray tanning, initially as a means of paying off her debts after a stint traveling overseas. “Then, it just took off! Amy says. “I was doing weddings… brides loved the soft, natural tans they were getting from me because I was trying to steer away from the over-the-top dark tans popularised at the time].” 

To support her booming side-hustle, Amy purchased tanning solutions directly from Vanity Tan until one day, in 2013, the business reached out to Amy directly with a pitch to onboard her as an in-house tan technician for Channel Nine. Amy commenced work with Australian talent including Lisa Wilkinson, Georgie Gardner and Erin Molan; work that would continue on a project basis for the next ten years. In recent years, Amy has tanned contestants on television series, Love Island, and attendees of The Logie Awards.

The Bridal Bar

While makeup and tanning were her focus, Amy would find herself recommending her clients elsewhere for additional beauty services. “[I thought], I’m just going to build a hub and bring everybody into one place and they can just get it all done under one roof,” she says. In 2015, she opened her first combined hair and beauty salon – The Bridal Bar – in Sydney’s South. Sporting three beauty rooms, eight makeup chairs, three tanning rooms, and an infrared sauna, she describes the business as “ongoing, changing and evolving.” Her decision behind the name? “To create a salon where clients get that ‘absolutely perfect every time’ bridal treatment, no matter what occasion it’s for.” The salon occupies 400 square-meters and has 13 staff members on its books.

Despite her successes, Amy admits she wasn’t immune to the impact impostor syndrome had on her, causing her to pull away from makeup. “I hated looking at my work… it was crippling,” she reveals. “As a creative, it’s hard. I thought… I want to pull myself out of this and put [new staff members] out, so I transitioned out [of makeup].” After the birth of her two children, Amy also pulled back from work on the salon floor to focus on staff training and overseeing the business as a whole.

Education, education, education

Amy has seen that some tan technicians and their clients require further education around the variables that impact a tan’s result. Such variables, Amy lists, can include a client’s hormone levels, what medications they’re taking, and – on a less savory note – whether a client is urinating in the shower post-tan. “My staff are trained to tell clients that nine-times-out-of-ten it’s something that’s going on inside their body [changing a tan’s result]. It’s not always the fault of the brand providing the tanning solution,” Amy argues. Clients visiting salon partners using Island Vibes are provided instruction cards detailing the tan’s ideal wash off time, steps to follow and things to avoid to achieve a tan’s best results.

She also recognises the missassumption of many – that letting a rapid tanning solution sit on the skin for longer will deepen the bronze. “It just doesn’t work like that. Your skin will only absorb what it can absorb, and then it starts over-developing. With tanning, less is more,” Amy advocates. In a bid to steer users away from the ‘unnaturally tanned’ look that’s dominated of late, Amy believes that the ideal spray tan is one that goes unrecognised; that users should instead aim for a “healthy glow” only.

Over the years, opportunities were presented to Amy to White Label a tanning range. However, she had concerns about attaching her name to a solution that may be duplicated under another label. “I thought, if I’m going to do it I want to work with a chemist and I want it to have features that I want it to have,” Amy says. “It would have killed me [as a salon owner] to be stocking two brands that were in fact the same product.”

Island Vibes incoming

Amy eventually found the right chemist and, fast-forward to 2024, Island Vibes was born. A shortage of DHA during the pandemic delayed Amy’s hope to commence production, but once it did, Amy and her elected chemist would share a vision to develop a tanning solution that took into consideration the myriad of variables that can impact a user’s results. “It was lots of trial-and-error, testing the market, and testing it on other people. It was a slow process because every time we tested, we had to wait a week before testing again to allow the tan to fade in full.” Trial Island Vibes tans were also offered at a discounted rate for clients of The Bridal Bar.

Island Vibes launched with two hero formulas – a 14% and a 16% DHA – with heavy bronzers designed to encourage rapid results. Solutions are available in 1L bottles for use in spray guns, and 200ml bottles for consumers. When it came to the solution’s scent, Amy wanted to carry on the theme of the brand’s name. “Feeling like we’re on holidays… that’s the whole goal. We want to feel like we’ve got that vacay vibe all year ‘round. That’s when we came up with pina coladas. I went to a Perth perfumery and we mixed it until we got the scent we wanted… we’ve had great feedback on how amazing it is.”

Island Vibes tan launches with diverse campaign

Driving diversity

Having spent 20 years tanning some of Australia’s most paraded stars, Amy shares that no matter how beautiful clients are, “the first word everybody says when entering the tanning tent is ‘sorry’; ‘sorry you have to see my ugly body’”. She consistently witnessed this self-doubt in clients who would visit her businesses for treatment. The #SorryNoMore campaign was developed in 2018 as a means of discouraging clients from apologising for their appearance. “It’s hard because clients feel so vulnerable, especially during a spray tan because you’re almost naked or you might be naked. We brought in a rule where therapists have to continue conversation for the whole ten-minute treatment; the conversation is not allowed to stop,” Amy explains.

Island Vibes’ launch campaign carries on this messaging around body positivity. “Diversity was always a big thing for me. I’ve always been big on ‘we love people’ and we just want people to be involved in things.” It was important to Amy that Island Vibes opt not to showcase typical model “clones”, but rather a broad spectrum of individuals who enjoy the benefits felt by a faux glow as much as any other. Campaign images showcase a mix of models of different ages, ethnicities, and skin tones. “We didn’t call out for models with Down Syndrome. We were approached by an agency that manages people with disabilities, and it just so happened that the four girls with Down Syndrome applied. They were so professional and so much fun.”

“Fashion has really moved into that diversity sector, being very inclusive with outfits in plus sizes, and so on. I think beauty is lagging… I feel like tanning in particular has not really diversified and has stuck with that kind of same look. It’s definitely a missing piece to that puzzle that these people don’t have a brand that they can turn to in the tan sector to say ‘I feel seen’ or ‘I feel heard’ or ‘That looks like something that I could be’,” Amy explains. “We just need a big shift” in the messaging delivered around tanning.

A shift set to start with Island Vibes.

Interested stockists can contact Island Vibes via the brand’s website here.

Read the current issue of our digital magazine here:

Have an idea for a story or want to see a topic covered on our site and in our pages? Get in touch at info@professionalbeauty.com.au.

Back to top