How to Use Facial Self-Tanner on Acne, Eczema, or Sensitive Skin

And, most importantly, avoid using body tanners on your face, since they aren’t formulated for the more sensitive skin on the face.

How to apply self-tanner on the face

If all goes smoothly with your initial patch test, it’s time to moisturize. Always make sure your skin is thoroughly moisturized before self-tanner application, especially if you struggle with acne and/or eczema. “It’s really important to apply a light layer of a non-oil-based moisturizer to the problem area prior to application,” explains Sophie Evans, St. Tropez’s tanning expert. “I would also recommend applying the moisturizer over the top of your self-tan immediately after application — eczema, acne, and any other dry areas will develop darker, so the moisturizer will dilute the self-tan color and ensure an even tan.”

Rather than rubbing the self-tanner into your face with your hands, Engelman suggests gently patting it onto your face using a damp Beautyblender or sponge, which will help to blend the formula without causing unnecessary friction against your eczema and acne.

Gradual versus instant self-tanner

If you experience eczema, or find yourself managing contact dermatitis every once in a while, gradual tanners are the right option for you. “One thing to keep in mind is that instant tanners may have higher concentrations of tanner ingredients and thus be more likely to generate a reaction,” says Dhingra. “That being said, there’s no clear tried-and-true [formulation], and trial and error will be the best approach.”

Acne-safe self-tanners we love

St. Tropez Self-Tan Bronzing Mousse

While, yes, this is a product formulated more for the body, Dhingra says it’s safe to use on an acne-prone body and face, too. “This self-tanner is oil-free, and the mousse finish will offer a more matte finish, which is desirable for oilier, acne-prone skin,” he says.

St. Tropez Self-Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse

Tanceuticals Self Tanning Face Serum

“This serum is great and oil-free, ideal for those with acne-prone skin,” explains Dhingra.

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Tanceuticals Self Tanning Face Serum

Jergens Natural Glow Face Moisturizer Face Daily Moisturizer With Sunscreen

“This [formulation] is great because it’s inexpensive, oil-free, and safe for acne-prone skin,” says Dhingra.

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Jergens Natural Glow Face Moisturizer Face Daily Moisturizer With Sunscreen

Eczema-safe self-tanners we love

Vita Liberata Self-Tanning Serum

“This pick from Vita Liberata is great for acne- and eczema-prone skin,” says Dhingra. “It has no oils and minimal allergenic additives.” 

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Vita Liberata Self-Tanning Serum

Tanceuticals CC Self Tanning Face Lotion

“Acne prone skin should probably avoid this one, but if you don’t get acne or rosacea [and just have occasional eczema], this oily product may be soothing enough,” says Dhingra.

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Tanceuticals CC Self Tanning Face Lotion

More on self-tanner:

Now check out the many methods of self-tanning:

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