While getting a tan can't cure your acne, a deeper skin tone can help camouflage some of the redness and inflammation from your acne. Getting a tan by sunning yourself outside or using tanning beds can be dangerous to your health and put you at higher risk for skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Also, antibiotics that treat acne make you more at-risk for sunburn. Instead, use sunless self-tanners to get the darker look to help hide your acne while still keeping your skin healthy.
Purchase a sunless tanning cream or spray that specifically says that it's noncomedogenic on the package. This means it won't clog pores and exacerbate the acne that you're trying to hide, notes CNN Health. Look for a lotion or spray formula that is less greasy.
Exfoliate your skin in the shower before you apply sunless tanner. Sunless tanner reacts to the top layer of skin with dihydroxyacetone, a safe chemical that essentially dyes the skin a darker color. The fewer dead skin cells on your body, the longer your sunless tan will last and the longer your acne will be camouflaged. Exfoliation can exacerbate acne, so avoid exfoliating acne-prone areas on your body.
Dry your body and face completely. Rub a layer of oil-free moisturizer anywhere that your skin is excessively dry, like your elbows, knees and the bottoms of your feet. Drier skin absorbs more color, which could result in an uneven tan. If you're worried about the amount of tanner on your face, apply a small amount of moisturizer. The moisturizer will create a barrier so your skin retains less color, and you can add more sunless tanner to build the right tan for your face.
Apply the sunless tanner in long, uniform strokes on your body, suggests Cosmopolitan magazine. This will ensure even coverage. Begin with your legs, and be thorough with the application. You don't want blotchy spots because of hurried technique. You might need a friend to evenly apply the tanner to your back and shoulders. Wash your hands well after application to avoid dark palms.
Allow the sunless tanner to dry before you get dressed, otherwise it can rub on your clothes and create splotches. Most sunless tanners take anywhere from two to four hours to develop, after which you can assess how well your tan hides your acne and evaluate the need for more self tanner. Another application will build on the tanner you already have on your body, making a deeper tone.