self tanning eczema

How to Fake a Tan When You Have Eczema

Everyone who knows me knows I love being tan. Perhaps it’s the part-Islander in me (my mom is from Mauritius), but unlike most Chinese people (including my sisters), I try to be as bronzed as possible, especially in the summer.

However, after many years of tanning (both outdoors and in beds), I’ve finally started to smarten up about protecting myself from harmful UV rays and have even started wearing sunscreen, at least on my face, daily (I know, I know, it’s about damn time). But as someone who doesn’t tan easily, this means my skin isn’t as bronzed as I’d like it to be.

The obvious solution is self-tanner, but when you have eczema like me, application can be tricky. Spray tans have left my flare-ups looking awkwardly stained and mousses and creams irritate my eczema spots even more. But since I am so determined to make self-tanning work for me, I asked Nichola Joss, a.k.a. celebrity facialist and self-tanning expert (she was the woman responsible for Kate Moss bronzed, naked bod in that St. Tropez tan campaign) exactly how to avoid looking patchy when self-tanning.

“You have to be very careful with product as it can cause inflammation to already sensitive skins,” Joss tells me over e-mail. “My advice is to go over these particular areas with a gentle, organic if possible, gradual tanner with less DHA and more moisture. It’s kinder to the skin and works with a more gentle approach as the tan develops [and there’s] less chance of a reaction.”

In addition to going natural or organic, Nichola also suggests using a gradual tanner meant for face on these sensitive areas. Simply apply with a sponge blender and gently work into the area before lightly buffing away, then repeating a few times to build colour.

Joss also advises cleansing the skin thoroughly and using a milk, or non-fragranced organic or natural moisturizer, before any tan application — just be sure to let it absorb into the skin fully first. For spray tans, she advises applying Vaseline over the tricky spots, then using the organic gradual tan afterwards on those areas.

Now excuse me while I stock up on organic self-tanners. Check out some top picks below: