Top tips for fake tan allergic reactions

So last week I found myself in a bit of a pickle. I had the mother of all allergic reactions to a gradual tanning moisturiser and spent most of the week feeling incredibly itchy and looking like I had run through a field of stinging nettles, being stung by a thousand wasps and sunburnt all at the same time. I was so itchy I couldn’t sit still – I’m sure my colleagues thought there was something wrong with me! (I would add some photos for you but it really wasn’t a pretty sight). I don’t have the most sensitive skin on the planet – I usually get heat rash in hot climates (oh the joys) but in terms of products, I usually get along with most skincare products okay. As someone who doesn’t really dabble with fake tan/gradual tanners I probably should’ve tested the product first, but hindsight is a wonderful thing!

Here are my top tips for dealing with an allergic reaction or skin rash from fake tan products:

Disclaimer: Please seek medical assistance if you think it is needed, if your symptoms are worsening or if your reaction is severe. I’m not a doctor so I can’t diagnose your skin reaction or guarantee that what I’ve recommended will work for you. Allergic reactions can be serious peeps, so please go seek medical help if you need it. More info on allergic reactions and symptoms can be found on the NHS website.

1. Clean that product off!

I woke up in the morning with a bright red itchy and sore rash across my legs, so I jumped in the shower and gently cleaned my skin. Use lukewarm water and a gentle soap – something fragrance-free that won’t add to the irritation. I used a soap and a shower gel by Simple which are designed for sensitive skin. Gently pat dry.

2. Get on the antihistamines

I take them daily for hay fever anyway, but there are plenty available from supermarkets and drugstores. Make sure you can take them (and that you’re not allergic to any of the ingredients) and stick to the recommended dose! These should help keep your allergic reaction under control, but as stated above, go and seek medical advice if you’re concerned. Google is no substitute for a real doctor, guys and girls.

3. Invest in some calamine lotion

I’ll be honest, it smells bloody awful, it’s very drying and it will leave you with a white/pink tinge to your skin (pastels are on trend, right?) but it is so soothing. I bought a bottle from Boots and used after showering or bathing and just rubbed it over the affected area. It dries slightly white and streaky (it’s a strong look!) but I noticed an immediate difference. If you’re conscious of looking a strange colour, put it on at night and wash off in the morning. I used this for a week and while it did a great job of soothing, I did notice my skin got awfully dry so just a word of warning!

4. Pure aloe vera gel

Not your usual cream aftersun lotions. This stuff was an absolute Godsend! I got in to a routine of showering in the evening, applying calamine lotion, showering in the morning and applying aloe vera. It’s very soothing and it really helps with the itching, plus it won’t leave you a strange colour like the calamine lotion!

5. Let your skin breathe!

At every chance I got, I changed in to shorts to let my legs breathe. Jeans, trousers and tight-fitting clothes all made the itching and irritation worse, so get those limbs out in the open air.

6. Change your sheets!

If you slept in your tan overnight, make sure you change and wash anything that it came in to contact with e.g. sheets, pyjamas, sweatpants etc. You don’t want to risk there being any residue of the product on there that could cause even more irritation for your skin.

7. Wait until your allergic reaction has gone down

Make sure your reaction has completely gone down before playing around with other skincare products – even if it’s just your usual moisturiser or a scented shower gel. Your skin is going to be very sensitive while all of this is going on, so give it some time to heal.

I’ll be honest, it’s taken nearly a week for my allergic reaction to go down, but I just monitored it and made sure I was okay with the products I was using. I’ve recently bought another gradual tanner (I know, you’d have thought all of this would have put me off!) and I’ve patch-tested it on my skin for 24 hours. Lesson learnt, ladies and gents. Luckily, I’ve had no reaction at all but I now know to do this for all future skincare products! Finally, just to reiterate I am not a medical professional – if you get an allergic reaction and you’re worried, please talk to someone in the know about what to do and what you can use – whether that’s your local pharmacist, GP or a walk-in centre.

I’m off to slather myself in some more aloe vera!

Katie x