Self-tanners and lasers – are they compatible?

I had IPL on my face for redness and it was incredibly painful. I felt like my skin was melting. No one told me not to use self-tanners and I assume this is the reason for the amount of pain but I cannot find any info online about WHY we are to avoid self-tanners before IPL and I want to know if there was any harm done to my skin. My face was quite swollen for about a week afterwards.

Yikes –  generally you want to avoid self-tanners for at least 1-2 weeks prior to any laser procedure.  And hopefully, your board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeons office is giving you instructions in your consult or written materials prior to the laser.

With some lasers is doesn’t matter, but we’ve found that most people can’t remember which exact ones ……….so a good rule of thumb is no self tanner for 1-2 weeks on the face and 2-4 weeks on the body.   The same thing obviously goes for tanning.

IPL, especially if you are very red to start with, can be very snappy.  The first treatment is usually the most uncomfortable.   The self tanner didn’t help though so avoid it next time.   It’s very unlikely that any permanent harm was done.

Hope this helps,  Dr. I

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

Ask me your skincare question!

Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin, and I believe that consumers need and deserve a medically trained and unbiased skincare advocate.

  • All our content is written and researched by myself and my trained staff.
  • My medical office in Seattle has experience treating thousands of patients.
  • This site is not affiliated or financially tied to any product line.
Ask Me Something
SkinTour Skincare
One of the best investments in your skin is your daily skincare. Why? Because you can prevent many problems with blotchy skin color, lack of glow, texture, some types of acne, and fine lines with good skincare products. You can also correct some of these problems with effective skincare products. Great skincare is often more expensive because quality ingredients are expensive. Some companies spend on research/development which benefits all of us and adds to the cost. Are they worth it? In general - yes!