An important question that arises concerning self tanners is whether they can interfere or prevent your other skincare products from working.
I’m very happy to tell you that the short answer is, “they don't.”
Self tanners work by actually staining the upper dead layers of the epidermis. It’s like a superficial dye on your skin. It doesn’t prevent sunscreens, moisturizers, exfoliants, antioxidants or any other skincare products that I know of from working in their usual way.
In terms of the order of application of other skincare products when you have a self tanner on, it’s business as usual with applying your sunscreen first and then layering other products from the lightest to the heaviest. And yes, I said sunscreen! Most of you know that while a UV induced tan does protect you a little from additional UV damage, a self tanner tan – which as you know, is the only safe type of tan - offers absolutely no meaningful sun protection, so sunscreen as usual is a must. And just to be clear, even if you have a “real” tan, you still need to use sunscreen because the protection a natural tan gives isn’t enough.
Just one more point: While the self tanner doesn’t create problems for other skincare products, your all important exfoliant does affect your self tanner. While regular exfoliation before a self tanner results in a much more even color, you may need to apply an extra layer of the self tanner since effective exfoliation results in a healthier, but thinner layer of dead cells for the tanner to stain, Once you’ve gotten your tan, regular exfoliation will result in its fading faster so you’ll need to reapply sooner. But the flip side, which is more important, is that with exfoliation, you get a more even, better looking tan, which is the reason you’re using a self tanner in the first place!