Woman standing in hotel room with a pixelated "tan" from a spray tan mishap.

Spray Tanning for Wedding Was an Epic Fail

Once upon a time, I got married and wanted to look like the sun-kissed Florida native that I used to be. The only problem with that is even though I once again live in the sunshine state, I rarely go out in the sun. Naturally, I decided to get a spray tan. Here’s my story on how psoriasis and spray tanning was an epic fail.

Staying out of the sun

These days I’m more of a homebody due to complications of Crohn’s disease and psoriatic arthritis. I also use a biologic medication to treat my inflammatory diseases, and there’s always a sun warning to contend with. And then there is the generality of having an autoimmune-mediated disease like Crohn’s let alone psoriasis and all the others that leave you at a heightened risk for melanoma.

Worried about a mole on my skin

I was fully prepared to get an actual tan by being out in the sun. My vitamin D levels have been low. Plus, as many of us have been advised by our dermatologists, sunlight is one of the best things to help psoriasis. However, about a month before the wedding, I noticed a mole on my arm changing shape. I’ve had it for years, it was definitely different. I was scheduled for a 6-month check with the dermatologist and asked her to really look at it.

During the checkup, she decided it was best to remove. This definitely put a hitch in my plans for going out in the sun to tan. I asked her if she thought spray tan would be okay. She told me to exfoliate well.

Seeking answers about spray tanning and psoriasis

So, like any paranoid bride-to-be, I hit the Interwebz just to make sure my doctor was correct. Makes sense, right?

Here’s the thing, if you ask the Interwebz about psoriasis and spray tanning, you get inundated with a wide variety of answers. Posts from beauty blogs and magazines will contradict one another while quoting dermatology experts. Psoriasis patient boards will have horror and success stories alike posted.

Spray tan skin prep with psoriasis

I felt my doctor’s advice was practical. The night before heading south to our wedding destination, I used a special cleansing soap that acts as an exfoliator. I started using it in the summer when keratosis pilaris was changing the texture of the skin on my upper arms. Normally, I don’t use loofas because they harbor bacteria. However, a loofa was recommended by one beauty magazine. Bonus to me because I use a Clarisonic to exfoliate my face, which was recommended by the same beauty magazine. I thought to myself, “You’re nailing this skin prep!”

More like not!

Getting my spray tan done

After checking into the hotel and getting settled, the makeup artist came to discuss styles and spray tans in preparation of the wedding rehearsal taking place the following evening. She showed the solution she felt would work best on my skin. And then really drove home the sell, “The Kardashians use it…”

Well, I mean if it’s good enough for Kimmy K! After all, she has Psoriasis.

She did a couple of coats and didn’t go too dark, because as it sets it’ll get darker. By the evening I started noticing certain spots on my arms and legs were darker than others. I went to bed telling myself that it would bake overnight and even out.

Spray tan fail

Much to my surprise, and horror, my arms were pixelated. They resembled something out of a Minecraft advertisement versus freshly tanned arms. I snapped a couple of pictures and sent them over to my makeup artist with “Tell me not to panic,” in the subject line.

She told me to go soak in the ocean, pool or hit the showers and scrub. I opted for the shower to scrub. I was relieved that there weren’t any plaques or blisters and that scrubbing with a washcloth helped even out some of the pixelated uneven coloring. When I got out, my arms still looked like they were zapped by a cartoon alien.

She arrived shortly after and used the solution she used on my mom. It was a different base and less sticky. It went on evenly, and she used her device to help speed up the drying process. Thankfully this did the trick and I didn’t look like a video game character for our rehearsal dinner or the wedding.

What I learned from this experience

The Internet, the internet’s interviews with skin experts, and my own doctor were not wrong. Confused? Me too!

I should have exfoliated not only with the cleansing soap but with a dry brush, scrub, a loofa or poof. And I should have moisturized heavily. Crohn’s, plus stress, plus psoriasis leads to a lot of dry skin. I most likely didn’t absorb the color evenly because of that.

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