Is it possible to have a laser treatment after I use self tan lotion?

The self tan lotion I use gets absorbed completely and does not stay outside the skin and does not cause stains. Is it possible to have a Fraxel treatment while I have the tan lotion in the skin?

Doctor Answers 4

Lasers and Self-Tanners

Certain lasers such as Alexandrite and Yag lasers, typically used for brown spots, tattoos, and hair removal, work by detecting pigment. When patients are tanned, whether through UV rays or self-tanner, it can confuse the laser and cause increased heat absorption in the upper layers of the skin. This can increase the likelihood of unwanted side effects such as burns, blisters, and hyper/hypopigmentation.

While the Fraxel laser, a fractionated resurfacing laser, works differently from the aforementioned technologies, I would personally suggest you postpone treatment. The risk of having any real effect on your end result is minimal, however waiting for the majority of the self-tanner to fade can ensure less complication. Letting your skin return to its natural state will also allow you to better gauge your results, and see the true effect of the Fraxel laser. Be sure to consult with a board certified Dermatologist for pre and post treatment protocol; best of luck!


Irvine Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Self Tanner and Laser Treatment

Hi 500C.  The answer to your question depends on the type of laser used and whether it is attracted to the darker color of the pigment in the tanner.  For Fraxel resurfacing, it is unlikely that there would be a problem as the wavelengths of light used by these devices (1540 and above) are not highly absorbed into dark colors like the self tanner.  

We use a 2940 Erbium for our fractional resurfacing and we have no problems with self-tanner.  

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Tanning lotion and Lasers

I suggest clearning the lotion as much as possible before any lasers.  Although the chance is minimal it will affect your treatment, its best to be as close to your normal skin as possible before treatment.  Best, Dr. Emer.

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 165 reviews

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Self Tanners and Lasers

I suggest that you remove the self tanner as much as possible through exfoliation before you have your laser treatment.  For the best results you should discontinue the self tanner before you have a laser treatment.  For the best results please consult a board certified dermatologist who is a specialist in lasers and cosmetic procedures.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.