Can I Tan if I Cover the Portion of my Body That is Getting Laser Hair Removal?

I have very light skin and I suffer from Folliculitis on my chest. Tanning is my last result and it's been the only thing that helps. I have tried everything for over two years now. I want to try to the tanning bed perhaps once a month. I know, I know tanning is bad for you. In addition to that, next Thursday I will begin my laser hair removal on my bikini line. I was wondering if I put sun screen on the area and then put a towel of my bikini line would it be okay for me to still use the tanning bed?

Doctor Answers 5

When is tanning okay?

To directly answer your question, if you don't change your skin's pigment where you're going to receive the the hair removal, then yes technically you could use the tanning bed. It's when the skin has been compromised we can not.  However, "tanning" is a result of DNA damage to your skin. I strongly recommend avoiding the tanning bed for your health.

Folliculitis is an infection in the hair follicles and we have a variety of options on how to treat it without the dangers of skin cancer and long term effects of UV exposure. 

Jupiter Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 163 reviews

Tanning while getting laser treatments

Changing and darkening your skin tone can absolutely affect your laser hair removal. Even by covering the area you want to get the laser done to, some UV light will go through sunscreen and towels and darken the area and therefore have an affect on the laser and possibly allow you to burn. Regardless of if you cover the areas or not, you must tell your treating facility that you tan. The laser will need to be turned down, and frankly, you're going to need extra treatments merely because the pigmented skin (even if not visible to your eye) will need to be addressed differently and at lower levels.

Additionally, tanning is absolutely not a cure for folliculitis. What it's doing is burning the hairs off. This isn't doing anything good except exposing you to carcinogenic rays. There are much easier, effective ways to treat folliculitis.

F. Victor Rueckl, MD
Las Vegas Dermatologist
4.6 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

No tanning with laser hair removal

Thank you for your question. It is not recommended to tan before or during your laser hair removal treatment. Tanning can cause hyperpigmentation and if your skin has changed after tanning, it will affect the laser settings and you can possibly get burns. You must tell the physician if you are going to tan or already tanned. I hope this helps. 

Hardik Soni, MD
Summit Emergency Medicine Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

No tanning with laser hair removal

Of course you should not be tanning, especially if you are considering laser hair removal.  Tanning after your treatment will cause hyperpigmentation and if your skin color has changed after tanning, it will affect the laser settings, with a chance of burning.  You must tell the technician if you are going to tan.  You should consult a dermatologist for the folliculitis on your chest.

Martie Gidon, MD, FRCPC
Toronto Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Tanning & Laser Hair Removal

Hi Sam.  Tanning at the same time as laser hair removal is not a good idea.  Covering the area to avoid getting tanned is a step in the right direction, but any sun exposure in this area so close to the treatment will increase the risk of a negative side effect.  Better to tan after the laser hair removal (still covering the area) than before.  If you wait several weeks after tanning before you go back for laser hair removal, this will help decrease your risk as well.

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

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.