How to Fake Tan with Acne (2023)

If you have acne, hopefully, you find all our advice on dealing with acne prone skin, including a holistic approach to managing your non conformist skin, really helpful. Take it from people that know what it is to suffer with acne, we research a lot on how best to treat our own skin, and we want you to understand the best ways, too.

We have previously spoken about wearing makeup when you have acne and oily skin, and what skin care is best for acne prone skin. We’ve even touched on why we don’t add sunscreen to our range of alkalising skin care products.

But one thing we haven’t talked about is using fake tan when you have acne prone skin. And we’ve heard you loud and clear, you want to know how best to use fake tan on your non conformist skin!

So here’s our lowdown on the best fake tan for acne prone skin, and all the dos and don’ts.

What is Fake Tan?

Most commonly known as fake tan, those little bottles of liquid suntan are also known as self tan and self bronzers. They’re generally a liquid that you either add directly to your skin or mix with a moisturiser and then add to your skin.

They then develop gradually over a few hours to give you a sunny glow.

How deeply your tan develops depends on the product, how much you apply and how often you apply it. They’re not to be mistaken with powder bronzers, that are a type of makeup that also gives a sunny glow but that washes off when you remove your makeup and cleanse your face.

Fake tans are available as creams, sprays, liquid drops and mousses. Either way, they generally last around three to five days before they begin to fade and maybe even look patchy. How long they last will depend on how quickly your skin cells renew.

Can you Use Fake Tan on Your Face?

Yes, by all means! In fact, using fake tan on your face is the best way to get the glow without risking sun damage, wrinkles and ageing from the harmful UV rays of the sun.


Fake tan can be used on both the face and the body, with products usually designed for one or the other. (Try to avoid using a fake tan designed for use on the body on the face, as it could be too harsh and cause breakouts, especially if you’re prone to acne).

But the real question is, is fake tan bad for acne, and if not, how to fake tan your face with acne…

Does Fake Tan Help Acne?

Having acne prone skin doesn’t mean that you can’t wear fake tan, you absolutely can. Does fake tan cover acne scars? It can! Just like you might use makeup to help cover up your acne, using either ‘normal’ high street makeup or special camouflage makeup specially designed for covering up scarring or acne spots, you can use fake tan to help even out your skin tone.

In fact, if you have acne then your skin might become even more irritated by exposure to the sun, so it makes sense to fake it if you want to get the glow.

How Do I Fake Tan with Acne?

Fake tanning your face when you have acne is pretty much the same as fake tanning your face if you didn’t have acne. It’s best to use a fake tanning product for the face that’s non comedogenic, which means that it doesn’t contain oil that will block the pores and cause further acne spots.

Applying a good fake tan is all about the preparation. If you shave your face or remove hair from your face in any other way, plan to do this the day before you fake tan.

Then, on the day, gently exfoliate your face using either a mechanical exfoliator such as a facial brush or a product that contains the exfoliating fruit acid, salicylic acid.

Pay particular attention to any dry areas, but if your skin is acne prone, don’t exfoliate too harshly or more than once or twice a week. Exfoliating helps to remove dead skin cells that can cause your fake tan to develop unevenly.

Then following the instructions on the bottle, apply your fake tan to clean skin and allow it to sink in and dry before touching your face. Wash your hands immediately afterwards to avoid tell-tale orange palms.

How Do I Remove Fake Tan?

Most fake tans disappear after a few days as the upper layers of skin shed away, taking the tan with them. This is good to know if you’ve made a mistake and applied too much and your tan is deeper than you’d like - it’ll be gone in a few days! The skin on our faces tends to renew quicker than the skin on our bodies, too.


If you do need to remove your fake tan more quickly, or you’d like to prepare your skin for a new fake tan by removing remnants of your old fake tan, exfoliating is best.

If your tan is only a day or two old, it may not remove all of it, but it should remove some. Remember, acne prone skin doesn’t react well to harsh exfoliating or exfoliating more than once or twice a week, so keep this in mind and go easy.

Can Fake Tan Cause Acne?

Using fake tan doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll cause you to develop more acne spots, but if you use one that’s oil based or isn’t non comedogenic (sometimes referred to as non acnegenic) then it has the potential to clog your pores and lead to acne breakouts and spots.

So always look for products, including skin care products and makeup, that say they’re suitable for oily or acne prone skin. Otherwise, the answer to the question, can fake tan cause acne, may well be yes.

Other Ways of Looking After Acne Prone Skin Whilst Using Fake Tan

When you have the perfect sunkissed (albeit, fake) glow, the last thing you want is to lose it. But fake tan can be reapplied as often as you like (but probably no more than twice a week if you want to maintain the natural look), so don’t be tempted to keep your tan at the expense of your normal skincare routine.

So carry on with the twice a day cleansing using a gentle cream cleanser. Even if you’re not wearing makeup, you’ll still need to remove the daily dirt and grime that builds up. Neglecting your cleanse will allow the pores to become blocked, which can lead to inflammation and spots - and no amount of tan is worth that risk.

You should also keep up with the non pore blocking day and night moisturisers. Keeping your skin moisturised will help your tan to stay fresher for longer and when it does fade, it will be less likely to look patchy.

At Sönd, we’ve chosen not to add an SPF to our formulations as we believe using SPF is a personal choice. If you do choose to wear an SPF, don’t forget to add it to your skincare regime, as fake tan doesn't protect the skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun.

If you don’t wear an SPF, you still need to take steps to protect your skin from the sun. This means large sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat - which is super stylish anyway.

Are There Other Ways of Tanning if I Have Acne?

Fake tan isn’t the only way to achieve a sunless glow, which is good to know if it’s the depths of winter or the Great British Summer isn't playing ball. You can also use sun beds or go to a salon for a spray tan (which is technically still fake tanning, just not in your own bathroom).


All options have pluses and minuses, and the choice, ultimately, is yours.

Sun Beds and Acne

Sun beds generally get a bad rap, for good reason - baking our skin with fake sun lamps still exposes us to UV rays, and at a very intense level. So if you do choose to use sun beds, always use a reputable solarium that regularly replaces their bulbs, cleans between each customer and won’t let you bake for more than a certain number of minutes per week.

You should also be realistic and not be tempted to use them week after week.

That said, using a sun bed if you have acne prone skin can cause any angry, red, inflamed skin to calm down a little. This isn’t the case for everyone, so take care and practice for a few minutes at a time. Also check that any medication you may be taking or using for your acne doesn't make the skin more sensitive to UV light. If you are, then sun beds really should be avoided.

In the long term, sun beds can cause the skin to become dry, which may cause the skin to compensate by producing more oil. This excess oil may then cause your acne to flare up. So always use a skin moisturiser on your body and your face after using a sun bed to replace any lost moisture.

Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water too.

Spray Tanning and Acne

In the same way as using a fake tanning product at home will give you tanned, glowing skin after a few hours, having a spray tan at a salon will do the same. It’s also less likely to result in streaky, patchy skin if you have a professional apply it!

Expect to be asked to strip naked and to don a very unattractive pair of paper knickers for your application, but trust us, the therapist applying your tan really has seen it all before. They will ask you what sort of depth of tan and colour you’d like to achieve.

Then they’ll use a spray machine, much like one found in a DIY store, to apply fake tan to your whole body. As it’s a spray, they won’t need to touch you, and will be standing a few feet away.

You’ll then stand for a few moments to dry off before getting dressed. It’s best to wear old, loose clothing and your tan will then develop over the coming hours.

(Video) How to Cover Acne Scars with Out Foundation ( for all shades)

If you’re concerned about your acne prone skin, speak to your therapist who will advise you on the best way to look after your tan.

Looking After Your Acne Prone Skin with Sönd

You can also support the health of your skin by using skin care products such as cleansers and moisturisers that have been specifically developed to support skin just like yours. Our range of products do just that, and are filled with skin loving active botanicals and alkalising, balancing silica salts that are ideally suited to acne prone skin.


This article is not meant to treat or diagnose. Please visit your doctor for advice about any health concerns you may have.

Dr Anna Brilli

About Anna

With more than 35 years of experience as a Medical Consultant and Holistic Nutritionist, Anna has developed her own alkaline-based approach for natural well-being. Annas holistic methodology helps slow down the ageing processes, cures problematic skin types and helps increase physical strength and mental clarity.

Follow Anna using her profile below:

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