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How to Fake Tan with Acne

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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 topic, 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 bronzing liquids. 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).

Can I fake tan with acne?

Having acne prone skin doesn’t mean that you can’t wear fake tan, you absolutely can. Just like you might use makeup to cover up the worse of your acne, 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 telltale 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.

Will fake tan give me spots?

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.

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.





Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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