5 Best Face Self-Tanners for Acne-Prone Skin

Having acne-prone skin isn’t easy, and using the wrong products can cause a bad breakout that also leaves a mark on your confidence.

With so many products to pick from, finding the right self-tanner for sensitive skin can be challenging considering many products contain chemicals that could irritate. We’re going to share with you the best face self-tanner for acne-prone skin available on the market.

Best Face Self-Tanners for Acne-Prone Skin: Our Top 5 Picks

1. Best Overall: Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam

  • The formula contains aloe vera and coconut, which helps to soothe irritated and dry skin.
  • It’s a lightweight foam that only requires a minimal amount for an even application.
  • You can use it on the body and face eliminating the need to buy two separate products.

Bondi Sands is a brand used and loved by many self-tanners around the world. It’s formulated with high-quality ingredients that provide you with a natural-looking tan without clogging your pores.

The added aloe vera is what makes this product our best overall, as it helps to soothe irritated skin while the coconut adds moisture and a lovely summer scent.

It’s recommended that you apply the lightweight foam using an application mitt. You can apply the product to your entire body and then use the leftover product on the mitt to tan your face.

One slight concern with this face tanner is that it doesn’t dry—it remains sticky on the skin for up to an hour. If you plan on applying it before bed, make sure you give it a full hour to dry before heading to bed to prevent smudging and patchiness.

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2. Best Quick-Dry Tanner: St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse

  • The formula dries within 60 seconds, enabling you to get on with your day without worrying about your tan.
  • Hydrates your skin for 24 hours, suggesting it’s suitable for dry and irritated skin.
  • Fades evenly, making it easier to reapply when needed.

The St. Tropez Mousse is a lightweight formula that dries instantly and won’t leave you feeling sticky. You can apply it using an application mitt for a streak-free result—you only need to use a small measure on your face and neck.

If you have easily-irritated skin, using natural products is a good way to prevent a breakout. The formula contains naturally-derived DHA and is free of paraben, sulfate, and phthalate. Additionally, the mousse has a mood-boosting fragrance that slowly fades as the tan dries.

It does fade rather quickly, and users reported having to reapply often. Luckily, you don’t need much product for an even application, so the bottle should last you a while.

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3. Best with SPF: Jergens Natural Glow

  • Contains sun-blocking properties, providing you with protection against damaging UV rays.
  • Oil-free, the formula is light and won’t sink into your pores to provoke a breakout.
  • Moisturizes and tans, it gives you an even tan while keeping your skin moisturized and fresh.

The Jergens Natural Glow self-tanner and moisturizer is a lightweight cream that does more than simply add a tint to your look. It was explicitly designed for use on the face, with its oil-free formula and nourishing emollients that keep your skin moisturized throughout the day.

You can use the cream in the morning before applying your makeup or using it before bed and wake up with a tan. Jergens recommends that you use it at least once daily for several days to build up a tan.

Unlike most self-tanners, this one is SPF 20, providing you with protection from UVA and UVB rays.

Users are overall happy with the product. There were some issues with the old formula’s scent; however, Jergens improved it in the new formula.

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4. Best Light Tan: St. Tropez Purity Bronzing Water Face Mist

  • Provides a light to medium tan that looks subtle on the face and not orange.
  • Easy to apply, requires no rinsing, and you can use it under or over makeup as part of your routine.
  • Toxin-free formula, helping to keep breakouts at bay.

If you’re looking for a self-tanner that can become a part of your everyday routine, this mist might just be what you need. It’s quick and easy to apply by spritzing it on under or over your makeup.

The formula is free of toxins such as sulfate, paraben, and phthalate, not to irritate sensitive skin. Furthermore, it contains hyaluronic and other non-pore blocking ingredients to prevent a breakout.

Finding a self-tanner for fair skin isn’t easy; however, the lightness of this St. Tropez tanner will only give you a light bronzed glow without leaving you orange. Many fair-skinned users were pleased with the results.

One slight issue that many users found was that it tends to rub off throughout the day, especially in warm weather.

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5. Best Gradual Tanner: COOLA Organic Sunless Tan Anti-Aging Face Serum

If you want a gradual tan that develops slowly over time, this serum might be what you need. The organic formula is GMO-, paraben-, and cruelty-free, made of 99 percent natural ingredients, including plant stem cell cultures that act as an anti-aging agent.

In addition to that, the formula contains algae and hyaluronic acid, which binds to moisture, helping your skin stay moisturized. The algae help to detoxify, soften, and moisturize your skin while restoring essential vitamins and nutrients into your skin.

The serum works by gradually building up a tan over several days. When you reach your desired tan, use the serum ever so often as a touch-up.

However, it doesn’t last for long before it requires a touch-up. Most consumers would apply the tanner every other day to keep up the color.

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Face Self-Tanner for Acne-Prone Skin: Buyer’s Guide

Choosing the Right Self-Tanner for Your Face

Finding the best self-tanner for your acne-prone skin doesn’t require extensive ingredient research. Instead, you should watch out for products that are oil and alcohol-free. Products labeled as non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic won’t clog pores, minimizing the chances of white- and blackheads.

Regular self-tanners contain harsh chemicals such as parabens that can easily irritate your skin. Irritated skin can become oilier, which leads to breakouts due to clogged pores.

How Does Self-Tanner Work?

Self-tanners, also known as sunless tanning products, contain a color additive known as dihydroxyacetone (DHA). The ingredient reacts with the dead skin cells on your skin’s surface and temporarily darkens your skin, giving you a tan.

How long the tan lasts depends on the product. Cell turnover occurs quickly on the face, which means the tan will begin to fade within a few days.

Self-tanners are available in different forms, including creams, mousses, serums, and sprays. You can also go to a tanning salon to get a professional spray-on.

Advantages of Using Self-Tanner on Face

One of the main advantages of self-tanners is that you can get a tan quickly without spending a minute in the sun. One of the primary causes of skin cancer is exposure to UV rays as they break down the DNA within the skin cells.

If you’ve had acne breakouts, you might have a few acne scars. These blemishes can sometimes be worse than the acne itself as they can be harder to get rid of. A well-applied tanning product can cover them up, giving you a more even skin tone and a confidence-boost.

Disadvantages of Using Self-Tanner on Face

Although self-tanner can help cover up acne scars, it won’t be as successful at covering up active acne. Since tanners work by reacting with dead skin cells, they can make your breakout more visible by darkening the area around the pimples.

Pimples often occur when the pores are clogged by dead skin cells, and if you apply self-tanner on and around a pimple, you might end up with uneven results.

Using the wrong kind of self-tanner on acne-prone skin can also lead to a breakout. Chemicals such as parabens are a common ingredient in these products; however, these can be harsh on the skin, leading to breakouts.

Tips to Properly Use Self-Tanner on Face

Applying a self-tanner for a flawless look requires more than smearing on a lotion. Here are some pointers to achieve that glowy finish:

  • Prepare your skin: Always start by exfoliating your skin. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells and gives you a clean surface to work on for an even finish. Make sure you use an oil-free exfoliant since the oil can prevent the tanner from absorbing into your skin.
  • Apply a base: Whether you’re using a mist, drops, serum, or lotion, apply an even base layer around your face. Remember to bring it up to your hairline, around your neck and ears.
  • Set the tanner: This is a completely optional step that you can do if you apply the tanner before bed. Simply apply a translucent powder over the tanner to keep it from smudging and creating a patchy look.

Does Sunless Tanner Clog Pores?

No, sunless tanner itself doesn’t clog pores, however, other ingredients in the specific formula can. Therefore, it’s essential to choose the right kind of self-tanner for your face, look out for ones that are non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic.

Can You Use Body Self-Tanner on Your Face?

Yes, it is possible to use body self-tanner on your face, however, we don’t recommend it. Manufacturers formulate self-tanners specifically to suit this area.

The face tends to darken slightly more than the body, so if you choose to use a body tanner on your face, make sure you dilute it with a non-oil-based moisturizer first.

Final Verdict

Using self-tanner on your face can be daunting—you don’t want to end up looking like a Cheeto—and it can feel worse when the product causes a breakout. By using the best face self-tanner for acne-prone skin, you can achieve a nice summer glow without exposing your skin to damaging UV rays.

Go for oil-free formulas, such as the Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam, to ensure the tanner won’t clog your pores, causing a breakout. It should also be free of toxins, such as parabens, to keep your skin healthy and happy.

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