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Self Tanner for Acne Prone Skin

author image J.M. Andrews
J.M. Andrews has been a professional journalist for more than 20 years. She specializes in health and medical content for consumers and health professionals. Andrews' background in medicine and science has earned her credits in a wide range of online and print publications, including "Young Physicians" magazine.
Self Tanner for Acne Prone Skin
A woman is rubbing lotion on her legs. Photo Credit: Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

If you have acne or acne-prone skin, you might skip using self tanners because you think they'll make your skin break out. But there's no need to deprive yourself of tanned skin -- just make sure that the self-tanning product you choose doesn't contain ingredients that promote acne.

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Acne results from a combination of excess oil present in your skin, plus irritation from skin cells that die off and shed too rapidly. The dead skin cells and oil clog your pores and promote bacterial growth. Self-tanning products and other cosmetics can contain oil, which can clog your pores just like your own skin oil, and alcohol, which may irritate your skin.


If you want to locate a self tanner product that is less likely to aggravate your acne, you should look for tanners that include the labels "non-comedogenic" or "non-acnegenic," according to the American Academy of Dermatology. "Non-comedogenic" means the product won't promote acne comedones, which are blackheads and whiteheads, and "non-acnegenic" means the product won't promote any acne formation, including blackheads, whiteheads and swollen pimples. If you see one of these terms, the manufacturer is telling you that the self tanner has been formulated in a way that most likely won't promote breakouts. However, these labels don't represent a guarantee that you won't get acne while using the product, since it's impossible to predict how any given product will affect each individual's skin.


If you can't find a self tanner product you like that states specifically it won't promote acne, you'll need to dig a little deeper into potential ingredients. Steer clear of any self tanning product that contains oils such as vegetable or animal fats, since these can cause blemishes in acne-prone skin, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Alcohol in self-tanning products also can irritate your skin and might cause breakouts.


The sun actually can irritate your skin, which can contribute to breakouts, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. In addition, some acne medications actually can cause increased sensitivity to the sun's rays. To help avoid this problem, choose a self tanner that includes a sunscreen. Once you've used your preferred self tanner, you should make sure to always use a sunscreen to protect your skin from sunburn.


Every self tanner product is different, and some might cause breakouts in your acne-prone skin even though you didn't find anything suspect in the ingredients.Once you find a self-tanner product you like, follow the package directions carefully, and be sure to wash your skin thoroughly after use. Careful washing twice each day of acne prone skin can help avert breakouts, according to the Kid's Health website.

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