Get your glow on |

4 mins

Get your glow on

Ellen Cummings asks the tanning experts for their top tips on treating clients with chronic skin conditions

Two of the most common skin conditions you might encounter as a tanning professional are atopic eczema (or atopic dermatitis), which is estimated to affect 10% of UK adults, and psoriasis, which affects around 2%.

The presentation and severity of the conditions varies from person to person, but eczema usually causes itchy, dry and cracked skin, while psoriasis can cause dry, scaly skin lesions called plaques which might also be itchy or sore.

These symptoms can come and go in cycles, and an increased presence of symptoms is known as a flare up. Signs of a flare up can include extremely sensitive or painful-feeling skin and increased itchiness, which can lead to open wounds if the skin is scratched too much. If clients are experiencing a flare up of a skin condition or have open wounds, it’s important not to carry out a tanning treatment – this is because tanning products can aggravate and dry skin cells even further when reacting to create the tan.

Having to turn a client away from a treatment can be difficult, but there are ways to manage the situation. Tanning expert and Crazy Angel educator Abbie McCann says, “Refusing a client can be hard but it always depends on the situation. I pride myself in making all clients feel comfortable from the minute we first speak to the minute they leave the salon – this is key. I ensure we are in a safe and comfortable setting before explaining why I do not recommend their requested treatment. However, I always suggest safe alternatives, for example, a lash and brow tint.”

Before the bronze

If your client is flare-up-free, you’re usually good to go with a glow! As with any beauty service, what comes before the treatment is as important to its success as the service itself. A thorough consultation process and patch test are crucial, with Crazy Angel also recommending that clients suffering from skin conditions should consult a medical professional before tanning.

McCann also believes that establishing a strong relationship with clients is important to the process. “Step one to achieving a radiant glow is knowing your client’s skin type and discussing this ahead of the appointment,” she says. “Before tanning my clients I ask them to complete a comprehensive consultation form and undertake a patch test, and if my clients are feeling nervous and anxious I make a conscious effort to build up their confidence and squash any worries they may have.

“I would also always offer my client a gradual build-up of spray tanning sessions to see how their skin reacts; for example, starting with the lightest solution and building up from there.”

In terms of skin prep, a deep physical exfoliation is not advisable. However, celebrity tanner James Harknett, who has worked with a variety of tanning brands including Fake Bake, advises that clients not experiencing a flare up can “exfoliate with a gentle product and concentrate on built-up, coarser skin”, and that you should then advise them to keep the skin heavily hydrated up until the day of tan application.

McCann adds, “I always recommend that the client exfoliates and moisturises their full body 48 and 24 hours prior to their appointment, using a prescribed moisturiser if necessary.”

Tan time

Immediately before carrying out a tanning treatment, many experts recommend applying a barrier cream to drier areas to prevent them from absorbing too much product. This is usually in areas such as the hands, knees and elbows, although eczema and psoriasis can affect other areas of the body.

McCann advises choosing a barrier cream that includes ingredients such as shea butter, which helps to nourish and has anti-inflammatory properties that soothe irritated skin, and aloe vera, which also has a soothing and cooling effect on the skin.

When choosing which tanning products to use, Harknett says alcohol is the only ingredient to avoid when it comes to psoriasis because it dries the skin, which can aggravate skin conditions.

Molly Noke from tanning brand Sienna X advises, “Use products that are enriched with aloe vera and vitamin E to soothe and moisturise. These ingredients work together to alleviate dryness and irritation, making the tanning experience comfortable for individuals with sensitive skin.”

She adds, “The inclusion of hydrating and nourishing ingredients ensures a tanning experience that is both effective and supportive of overall skin wellbeing.”

Another expert tip is to use a blender brush or tanning mitt to gently buff a tanning mousse into drier skin rather than applying a spray tan directly to the affected areas.

When treating clients with skin conditions, it can help to go the extra mile with aftercare. McCann explains, “After tanning sessions, I check in with my clients to ensure they are happy with their results and to ask for any feedback – this shows my commitment to providing a safe and inclusive service.”

This article appears in April 2024

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April 2024
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