[Updated] How to: spray tan clients suffering with eczema

Eczema is a common skin condition where patches of skin become inflamed, itchy, red, cracked and rough, and blisters may sometimes occur.

The condition is also more than skin-deep, with 37% of eczema sufferers saying it affects their confidence daily.

This might sound like a no-go for tanning, but the good news is that clients with eczema can still use fake tan; it just requires a little more thought and preparation. 

Choosing the right tanning products

Shoned Owen, tanning expert and founder of vegan sunless tan company Tanya Whitebits, says, “It is important to refrain from tanning during eczema flare-ups or when there are open wounds.

"Once the skin has healed, usually around a fortnight after a flare-up, clients can safely tan if they follow the correct advice.”

Carrie Marsh, tanning expert at Norvell Tanning, agrees, adding, “If your skin is inflamed and you have sore open wounds, I wouldn’t recommend tanning those areas as it could cause further irritation.”

Owen adds, “I would recommend looking at the ingredients list in the tanning product in case there is anything that could cause sensitivity. For clients with eczema, a gentler formula with natural ingredients is best.”

Gemma Smalley, Sienna X Midlands region trainer, advises using "a good-quality tan that contains lots of nourishing, moisturising ingredients", while Nadia Rafi-Kenny, managing director at Feel Good Promotions on behalf of That’so Skincare and Tanning, recommends using barrier creams with ingredients like olive and almond oil, and tanning products with ingredients such as vitamin E, aloe vera and Matrixyl.

Rafi-Kenny also suggests using a tanning product without a guide colour, as this can sometimes be a cause of skin irritation.

Tan preparation for clients with eczema

Abbie McCann, lead educator at Crazy Angel, believes that preparation is key. She says, "As a tanning therapist it’s your job to make the client feel comfortable. I have come to realise over the years you have to take a different approach with all clients that suffer with eczema because every client is different with this skin condition.

"Firstly, make sure you ask the client if they have any skin conditions you should be aware of at the time of the booking. Secondly, a consultation is so important in these cases because it allows you to assess the client's skin and make the best decision for them and the desired results.

"If you feel the client's skin is in a place where you can go ahead with the tanning treatment, during the consultation, take a look at their skin and advise them to trust you as a therapist to give them the percentage of tan that would be best for them and their skin, and which won't emphasise their condition." 

Owen comments, “Whatever the product, I would recommend performing a 24-hour patch test to check skin suitability and sensitivity before tanning. If irritation occurs, don’t use it.”

“Once you have established that there is no sensitivity, advise clients to condition their skin regularly with moisturiser in the weeks leading up to the tan application. This is especially important for eczema sufferers,” she continues.

“Just prior to tan application, I recommend applying a good barrier cream to dry areas, especially those affected by eczema.”

Marsh says, “Applying barrier cream to the very dry areas will help to stop the tan from clinging to them.”

As for what barrier cream to use, McCann says, "Vaseline is great for those who have particularly sensitive skin but always ensure you are using a product with the best ingredients, suitable for these skin conditions. You can even advise the client to bring their own moisturiser if this makes them feel more comfortable.”

What to do during tanning treatments

Owen says, “When applying the tanning product, it is best to avoid direct application to eczema-affected areas. When unaffected areas have been tanned, use a blender brush or the back of a velvet tanning mitt to glaze over the problem area.

“This will help blend in the tan and prevent dry areas from absorbing too much product, which can produce darker patches.”

Smalley adds, “An extra tip is to use a good quality tanning mitt to gently pat and buff a hydrating tanning mousse into the skin instead of a spray tan.”

Post-tan aftercare for eczema

As with all tanning treatments, the aftercare involves plenty of moisturising. Owen comments, “Post treatment, clients should continue to moisturise regularly to hydrate and prolong their new glow.”

“You could even give them a sample of cream to take away with them,” adds Smalley.

After some more tanning tips? Check out our guide to tanning clients with different needs: covering the elderly, pregnant and those with mobility issues.

How do you adapt your tanning treatments for clients with eczema? Let us know in the comments.