Vitiligo is a skin condition in which patches of skin, and sometimes hair, lose color, or pigmentation. This creates a patch work effect, where the client will have lighter and darker pigmented skin areas.

Some people have a few small patches, others may have large areas covering much of the body.

Vitiligo is not contagious, nor is it life-threatening. But it can be life altering for the person with this condition.


There are 2-5  million people in the U.S. with Vitiligo, and sunless spray tanning is an option that can help some feel more comfortable in public.

When you spray tan someone with Vitiligo, the un-pigmented skin will still be lighter, but if you are lucky the contrast will be reduced. It depends on how much contrast she/he has.

If she is very pale naturally, and if she/he has been staying out of the sun, the contrast will be minor.

UV exposure will cause the pigmented areas to darken, creating more contrast between pale unpigmented areas, and pigmented skin.

If she/he is a skintype III, who hasn’t been staying out of the sun, spray tanning may or might work, due to the high level of color contrast.


Vitiligo is pronounced

LITTLE I GO only starting with a V.



The goal of many  with Vitiligo is to be all one color.  The cells that produce melanin have died in some areas of their skin, and that’s why those areas are so white. When you spray tan them, it doesn’t matter that they have no pigment, because sunless tanners don’t need melanin (skin pigment) to produce color — they are working on the protein in the dead layer of skin.

If they have been using sunless tanners, you should question them carefully, because they may have found what works best already. And this can make your experimentation/practice phase much shorter.

For instance, are there certain areas she/he has to avoid, or go over more than once? Take note of these areas, and follow your clients recommendations.

Sunless tanners (and spray tans), when applied on the pale skin,  can look “rusty” next to the pigmented skin. This is not unusual. The fading may differ on pale compared to the  pigmented areas.


Home Application:

Many people  with Vitiligo apply sunless tanners like this:

  • first apply the sunless tanner only to the un-pigmented areas. Some of them use sunless tanning sprays or mousses and apply with a small artists brush, or foam paint brush, or cosmetic sponge.
  • Then they do the same thing the next day.
  • Then on the third day they apply a sunless tanner coat all over the entire body, which makes the color even.
  • Then on the fourth day they exfoliate. And then they start all over

It’s an incredible amount of work, and it’s not unusual for a person with Vitiligo to apply sunless tanners every single day.

Vitiligo tends to start on the hands, and on the face. These are the areas everyone sees, which makes it an emotional issue, affecting self-esteem. Especially during teen years.  If a client is very light skinned, spray tanning should work perfectly.


For more information on Vitiligo visit

Professional Spray Application:

When applying tanning solution to pale areas, a small airbrush, or hand application with a paintbrush, sponge or, foam paintbrush will often be more beneficial than a larger spray gun or HVLP gun.

Explain to the client the challenges involved, and what you will be doing. Let them know that it may take several visits with various solutions and application styles to get the product, and technique, that will work best for their skin.

It may also be a good idea to let the client know you will offer them a discount on the tanning sessions, while you are still in the learning/experimenting stage.


Step By Step


Visit 1: spray/apply the solution only on the light skin areas. Blend contrast edges as you go, using a sponge with a “patting” motion to blend at the edges where the darker skin and lighter skin meet.

It will be very time-consuming: about one hour of spraying and taking time to step back and evaluate.  You will get faster with practice.

Schedule the client’s next visit the following day. This allows you to see how her skin is reacting to the solution you used, and gives you the opportunity to adjust as needed.

Visit 2: Again, spray/apply only to the lighter areas on the body, using the sponge to blend. (The contrast will be less, because of the previous tanning session)

Then do one final spray over the entire body, to blend and even color out all over.


For future visits, client may want to come about twice a week. If she is coming regularly, she will have some sunless tanner “base tan” built up on skin. This allows you to adjust routine slightly.

First visit of the week: spray/apply product only to the lighter, un-pigmented areas. You can also apply a light coat of sunless tanner all over to give the client an all-over tan, and better match skin tones.

Visit 2: Schedule this in three to four days. Again, touch up any lighter areas. (There will be less contrast now, because of the previous visit)

Then go over the entire body, head to toe, with a single coat of tanning solution.


This can be a challenge and time consuming, but the sense of satisfaction will well make it worth your time. And often help the client feel more confidant in their daily lives.