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The Truth About Tanning and Acne

Can Tanning Cure Acne?

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Updated April 19, 2014

Photo © Roberta Krasnig / Getty Images

Tanning beds damage the skin as much as the sun.

Photo © Roberta Krasnig / Getty Images

For many, summer just isn't summer without lying out in the sun, getting a deep, golden tan. And with tanning salons on nearly every corner, the sun-loving set can keep their tans year round. Interestingly, there is a common belief that a tan will actually heal acne. Is tanning really a miracle cure?

By now most people know tanning is neither safe nor healthy. And although a tan may temporarily camouflage breakouts and discoloration caused by acne, there is no evidence that tanning clears acne. And because sebaceous glands are influenced by, among other things, heat and humidity, lying out in the sun or in a tanning booth may actually cause the skin to become oilier. More oil equals more breakouts.

Not only that, but many acne medications may cause photosensitivity. Photosensitivity is the increased sensitivity of the skin to ultraviolet rays, including sunlight and the light from tanning beds. As such, you put yourself at an increased risk for severe sunburn, skin damage, premature aging, and skin cancer.

Tanning is never a good idea, whether it's from the sun or a tanning bed, but it is especially true if you are using acne medications. For a healthier, safer alternative, get your golden glow from a noncomedogenic sunless tanner.

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