How to Protect Your Tattoo From the Sun

How to Protect Your Tattoo From the Sun

It is almost Easter and the Northern hemisphere is beginning to emerge in earnest from its winter hibernation. The sun actually provides a bit of warmth, as opposed to only a weak light struggling to reach us through the clouds. Green little buds are starting to pop up on the trees, and flowers are reaching out of the earth like little colourful easter eggs. No, this will not be a post about bunny tattoos. Cute as they may be.

Buddha & geometric tattoo
By Kay from Vivid Ink Birmingham

This will be a blog about how to best protect your tattoo from the sun. Because no matter how much we tend to lose all hope throughout the winter months (especially the past ones where we have all been tied to our homes), there is a summer ahead – and would you believe it, it is just around the corner. 

Reducing tattoo fading

You do not go through all of that planning, scouring of artists’ Instagram-accounts, saving up money, and, not least, the actual getting of the tattoo itself, just to have your gorgeous and hard-earn piece of body art turn lacklustre and fade within a few years, right? Many people think that once their tattoos have healed, the need for aftercare stops.

True, you no longer need to worry about infections or what to eat to help your skin reboot and restore after a long session. However, caring for your tattoo in the name of longevity is a life-long process. Some fading will inevitably occur, but you can definitely extend its vibrancy by protecting it from the sun’s pigment-damaging rays. 

First of all – until your tattoo has healed completely (this means no more scabbing and peeling, a process that typically takes three to four weeks) it should not see any sun whatsoever. And you most certainly do not want to put sunscreen on it. You wouldn’t on an open wound, after all. 

Skull & rose tattoo
By Mary from Vivid Ink Stafford

SPF before you go outside

Even though you may be looking to get golden on and use a lower SPF on the rest of your body and face, do go for 30 and above for your tattoos. Preferably 50. Anything higher than that is not really necessary as protection has been shown to plateau.

Make sure to apply sunscreen before you go outside. Otherwise, you may start to sweat before you put the cream on, which will make it less effective. Then reapply every two hours, more often if you are swimming in the ocean, the pool, or running through the sprinklers in your neighbour’s garden (remember how much fun that used to be?).

Speaking of swimming, we have said it before but it cannot be repeated enough – no submersion of your tattoo before it is completely healed! Warm water will open the pores, and pools, saltwater etc. can lead to irritation and potential infections. 

realism tattoo
By Robin from the Sutton Coldfield studio

What if you get burnt?

Should you, against better knowledge and because you are so eager to show off your newest piece at your cousin’s barbecue and so you thought what-the-hell, get your new tattoo burnt, you need to think of it as restarting the healing process. Hopefully, there hasn’t been enough damage for there to be any blisters. If it’s a healed tattoo and you burn your skin, treat it like you would any other sunburn. And learn from the mistake.

Some tattoo artists say that a light layer of aloe vera can be ok house as a  cooling and soothing moisturiser for your tattoo, whereas others recommend against it. Ask your artist for their specific aftercare instructions as they know the ink and technique they are working with the best. 


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