Is fake tan a recipe for acne disaster?

By Ash 22nd February 2021 Category: Advice
Book A Consultation

Medically Reviewed June 2023, by Daron Seukeran, Group Medical Director, for sk:n. Next review due June 2024.

Can fake tan cause acne?

Acne is caused when the pores in the face and upper body overproduce sebum, an oily substance used to lubricate the skin.

Whilst using fake tan products such as lotions and sprays can’t cause the long term condition of acne in someone that doesn’t already suffer from it, they can cause your skin to break out by clogging the pores, making skin oilier and introducing bacteria to the skin.

Using the right products in the right way can help acne sufferers use fake tan confidently.

clogged pore vs clean pore

Clean pore vs. clogged pore

Does fake tan cover acne?

For those unfortunate enough to suffer from this skin condition, fake tanning can sometimes help to hide an acne scar or breakout. If your self-confidence is being dented by acne, using fake tan products can sometimes help you feel better about your appearance. If you find that fake tan helps you feel better about your appearance, then it’s worth testing on a small area of your skin to see how it reacts.

Fake tanning your face if you have acne

Some fake tanners contain harsh chemicals, which can have the effect of irritating skin, making it oilier and causing breakouts by blocking pores. If you suffer from acne on your face or any part of your body, make sure you use self-tan products that say they are oil and alcohol-free.

Some fake tan brands recommend to exfoliate your skin before applying the product, by using a physical exfoliant i.e. a scrub. However, the mechanical friction caused by scrubs may increase inflammation, irritation and redness, so you should avoid this type of exfoliation in favour of a chemical-based formula, such as one containing AHAs or BHAs.

Also, look out for those labelled as non-comedogenic (sometimes this will be labelled as non-acnegenic). This just means that the product won’t block pores, which will help prevent whiteheads and blackheads. Unfortunately, it’s often the more expensive, better quality fake tan that meets all these criteria.

Does fake tan make acne look worse?

Fake tan products work by reacting with dead skin cells. As you often find more dead cells around a pimple, fake tan can sometimes make acne look worse rather than help to hide it. You can help to prevent a patchy appearance caused by using fake tan on acne-covered skin by exfoliating before you apply it.

If your acne is just getting too much to handle, it’s worth looking for an acne treatment with long-term results rather than focusing on a short-term cover up.

Talk to a dermatologist to discuss your options.

Back to Articles

Related Articles


Apr 2024


Apr 2024

Request a callback


One of our friendly sk:n advisors will call you to book your consultation.

  • More than 450 consultants, doctors, nurses and medical practitioners
  • Regulated by the Care Quality Commission, Health Inspectorate Wales and Health Improvement Scotland
  • Partner of the NHS
  • Rated excellent by our clients on Trustpilot
  • Strict safety and care protocols


Explore sk:n








and support


Aftercare and support  

Skin products


Skin products  


medical team


Expert medical team