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Why You Should Always Wear Sunscreen on Your Tattoos

best sunscreen for tattoos

You may not think tattoos have anything to do with sunscreen, but it’s so important to wear sunscreen on your tattoos, especially when you’re out in the sun. Keep reading to find out why and what kind of sunscreen works perfectly with ink.

Getting a new tattoo is a usually an exciting experience that can also be pretty expensive, so you’ll want to protect that beautiful investment as much as possible. While it’s important to apply sunscreen every single day — whether you have tattoos or not — protecting your tattoo from the sun is extra important.

Why sunscreen and tattoos go hand-in-hand…

“The ultraviolet light in the sun not only damages the skin, but can also cause tattoos to fade,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jeremy Fenton. “If the skin under the tattoo gets a lot of sun exposure, the tattoo will also start to get stretched out as the skin gets looser and more wrinkled.”

“The ultraviolet light in the sun not only damages the skin, but can also cause tattoos to fade.”

Dr. Fenton

Fenton also says that avoiding putting sunscreen on your tattoos allows you to run the risk of having your tattoo fade faster and “become more blurry with the edges becoming less sharp.”

The best SPF to use on your tattoo…

When you first get your tattoo, you’ll want to keep it out of the sun and refrain from putting it in direct sunlight until it has completely healed. After it has fully healed, you can start putting sunscreen on it regularly. “I suggest starting off with a a zinc oxide-based sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher,” says Dr. Fenton. “Zinc oxide offers broad spectrum protection and is the least likely to irritate skin.”

If your skin is extra sensitive right after your tattoo has healed and you want to put a sunscreen on it that won’t irritate your skin, you may want to try out our new line for kids: Sunnyscreen. The Sunnyscreen lotion contains broad spectrum SPF 50, only uses non-nano zinc oxide as its sunscreen active and was made for the most sensitive skin (babies and toddlers!).

As for the sunscreen to use for once you’ve healed and you’re looking for a product for lifelong maintenance, Dr. Fenton says your best bet is choosing one that has the right SPF label and is easy to use and reapply. A couple of our suggestions are our Antioxidant Sunscreen Mist or Sun-defying Sunscreen Oil, each with SPF 50. These spray on clear, and they leave behind a glowing, non-greasy look…so your tattoo can really shine.

“Using a sunscreen stick is another great way to do it,” he says. “Sticks are convenient and easy and that will hopefully increase how often you reapply.” Our friend Vince who surfs a lot and has lots of tattoos says he loves using Glow Stick SPF 50 on his tattoos. He started using Glow Stick regularly after he dealt with a particularly bad sunburn on his tattoos.

“I knew that SPF was important in protecting the colors from getting dull and blown out over time — I definitely didn’t want everything to look like a blob as I got older — and my tattoo artist gave me a great care card on what to do to prevent that, but I didn’t really learn my lesson until I got a sunburn on that first tattoo,” he says. “The sunburn felt like no other I had gotten in the past; it almost seemed to go deeper in my skin and was certainly exacerbated by what is basically a wound on the surface of my skin.”

Now Vince always loads up on the SPF when he’s outside. He loves Glow Stick SPF 50 because it blends into the skin clear. “There’s nothing worse than sitting on the beach with white zinc blotches up and down my arms,” he says.

“I love that Glow Stick does exactly what the name states: it provides a glow that really makes the colors pop and provides the peace of mind knowing that I won’t get burned,” says Vince. “I also really like that it’s a stick and not a gel so my hands don’t get greasy after applying it. It’s also packaged nicely so I can easily throw it in a bag or my pocket without any issue.”

Bottom line:

When you invest in a tattoo, you should also invest in lifelong sunscreen habit to keep that tattoo looking fresh and to keep your skin healthy.

Take it from Vince: “Whenever I apply SPF on my tattoos, I notice that they appear brighter and more defined. Hopefully, as I continue to use SPF, my tattoos wont turn into colorful blurs and each one will look as crisp as the day I walked out of the shop.”

+Have more questions about sunscreen and tattoos? Leave them in the comments!