There is an interesting relationship between tanning beds and acne. This relationship has been studied recently and yet is still somewhat misunderstood. While tanning beds have been reported to decrease acne in the past, the research is showing that the use of tanning beds provides more negative effects than benefits to the skin.

Decreased Acne

Some people believe that the use of tanning beds help to clear acne. The American Academy of Dermatology states that many people go into tanning beds in order to get rid of acne, on their face or body 1. The theory is that UV rays from the sun or from tanning beds dry up pimples, creating a clearer complexion.

Tanning Bed Reality

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The reality of tanning beds, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, is that tanning beds have not been scientifically proven to decrease acne 1. They also warn that the use of tanning beds can cause skin cancer. The Nemours Foundation explains that a tan complexion only temporarily darkens the skin, covering the redness of acne for a brief period of time, but not actually healing the acne.

Sunscreen and Acne

It is important to always use oil-free sunscreen, according to the Nemours Foundation. People who use tanning beds as an attempt to decrease acne may be clogging their pores by using thick, oily sunscreens. Noncomedogenic sunscreens can be worn in the tanning booth, or every day, and will not clog pores or cause pimples.

Acne Medications and Tanning

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The Nemours Foundation warns that people who already have acne and who use acne medications or creams should not use tanning booths. This is because medications like tretinoin and antibiotics used to clear up the skin make the skin more sensitive to UV rays. People who use acne medications and then tan may experience side effects like redness and peeling of the skin.


Instead of decreasing acne, the use of tanning beds may actually cause acne. Experts at the Johns Hopkins University state that tanning salons are a place where bacteria grows. This is because so many different people use the booths each day. The bacteria in tanning booths may cause acne if it comes in contact with the skin and may even lead to infections.

  • Instead of decreasing acne, the use of tanning beds may actually cause acne.