Skin protection is essential. Regardless of the season, the UV rays can damage the skin, promote premature aging and even contribute to skin cancer development. Without proper and regular protection, you are risking all sorts of skin issues as you grow older.
However, tattooed skin may even require more attention. Because the ink is a strange object in the skin, it has already changed the way your skin behaves. The ink affects, or to be more specific, lowers the immune response of the skin, so it becomes more sensitive to Uv rays and the harmful effects of sunlight exposure.
Whether tattooed or not, it is well known that your skin requires proper protection against harmful UV rays. The only way to truly protect the tattooed skin especially is to use high-quality sunscreens.
Since summer is just around the corner, the craze about sunscreens for tattoo protection is starting again, and we’ve just got the best ones in one place. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the best sun protection production for this 2021 season.
Best Tattoo Sunscreens: Our Top Picks For 2021 (Detailed Reviews)
CeraVe 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
- Price tag – $$
The CeraVe Mineral sunscreen is one of the best on the market. It is a broad-spectrum product, containing 3 essential ceramides to protect the skin’s natural barrier. It is paraben-free, fragrance-free, and oil-free. This makes the sunscreen lightweight and gentle. Use this on tattoos prone to sun exposure (placed on arms, legs, torso, upper back, neck, etc.), for the best protection.
Inkeez Ink Shield Sunscreen Spray SPF 50
- Price tag – $$
The Ink Shield sunscreen is the world’s first sunscreen specifically created for tattoo protection. The formula of this sunscreen is lightweight and gentle on the skin. Even one application can protect your tattoo throughout the whole day. The sunscreen is in the form of a spray, so it isn’t sticky and greasy; is it light and soaks into the skin quickly. If you want to prevent your tattoo from fading, this is the product to go with.
Banana Boat Sunscreen SunComfort Mist SPF 30
- Price tag – $
If you’re dealing with oily and sweaty skin, especially during the summer months, you don’t want to apply a heavy lotion onto your tattoos. We recommend you go with this Banana Boat sunscreen mist.
It provides the same amount of protection as a lotion or cream, without being sticky, greasy, and heavy. It won’t prevent the tattoo from breathing, but it will protect it from the Uv rays. The mist is super effective on dry skin as well, since it is moisturizing too.
Colorescience Sunforgettable Protection Stick SPF 50
- Price tag – $$
Another exceptional sunscreen for tattoos comes from Colorescience. This sunscreen comes in a form of a stick, which ensures easy, gliding application. Upon application, the sunscreen appears visibly white. However, as you rub it into the tattoo, it becomes transparent without losing its protective efficiency.
The sunscreen formula is lightweight and water/sweat resistant. It is also paraben-free, oil-free, dye-free, and fragrance-free, which makes it safe and hypoallergenic.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Sunscreen SPF 60
- Price tag – $$$
For the ultimate protection make sure to check out this La Roche-Posay SPF 60 sunscreen. This is a broad-spectrum, face and body sunscreen, suitable for tattoo protection regardless of its placement on the body.
The sunscreen is oil-free, lightweight, and fast-absorbing. It ensures the skin stays hydrated and smooth. Because it is suitable for sensitive and treated skin, it is perfect for tattoo protection. The sunscreen is water-resistant, so you can feel protected even at the beach or while swimming.
Sun Bum Original Sunscreen Spray SPF 50
- Price tag – $$
To protect your tattoo from sun damage and fading, you may want to buy a product you won’t forget to use. This Sun Bum sunscreen spray is perfect for those who forget to put sunscreen on their tattoos. It is excellent to carry around in a bag or suitcase.
The product lightweight, oil-free, fast-absorbing, and safe for all skin types. It is moisturizing and filled with useful vitamins for the best nourishing protection. Sun Bum products are dermatologically tested and cruelty-free as well.
EltaMD UV Active Broad-Spectrum SPF 50+
- Price tag – $$$
If you’re looking for a high-quality product and don’t mind spending an extra buck, we recommend you go for this EltaMD sunscreen. Since your tattoo is there to last you a lifetime, you may as well invest in a quality product to protect it.
This water-resistant sunscreen is formulated for both daily use and a generally active lifestyle. It is rich in flavonoids and minerals which make it extra hydrating and nourishing to the skin. The sunscreen is chemical-free, broad-spectrum, and noncomedogenic.
CannaSmack Ink Guard Tattoo Sunscreen SPF 30
- Price tag – $
The CannaSmack sunscreen stick is specifically made for tattoo protection. The sunscreen ensures the tattoo doesn’t wrinkle and fade in sun exposure and protects the skin from sun damage overall. The product is hypoallergenic and water-resistant.
It can be used for daily application or specifically for tattoo protection. The sunscreen contains hemp seed oil which is rich in vitamins and minerals. It is gluten-free, color-free, sulfate-free, as well as fragrance- and paraben-free.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Lotion SPF 100+
- Price tag – $
One of the best sunscreens on the market comes from Neutrogena, at a surprisingly affordable price. This is a water-resistant, non-greasy, fast-absorbing sunscreen, intended for the ultimate protection against sun exposure damage. It is lightweight and becomes completely sheer once you rub it into the skin.
The Ultra Sheer sunscreen is dermatologically tested and approved for different skin types; it was even tested for skin cancer risk reduction and proved efficient. So, if you want to protect your tattoo (and the rest of the body), make sure to check out this Neutrogena sunscreen.
Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30
- Price tag – $ (price may vary)
Another exceptional tattoo-protecting sunscreen comes from Aveeno. This product is one of the best-selling sunscreens every spring/summer season. It is super hydrating, without being greasy and sticky.
The product is fast-absorbing, leaving the skin smooth and silky. It is designed to be sweat- and water-resistant, and it is also suitable for both face and body applications. The Aveeno sunscreen is even recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation as effective protection against skin cancer-inducing effects of sun exposure, including sunburn and skin damage.
Note: Aveeno has announced that they will be discontinuing their Protect+Hydrate sunscreen, so make sure to buy it before it runs out. Apart from Walmart, you can still buy it at Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy, and Amazon.
Tattoos and Sunscreens: More FAQ
Why Do I Need To Apply Sunscreen On My Tattoos?
When you get a tattoo, your skin surface is super damaged and takes time to heal. Even when the tattoo heals completely, this part of the skin will always have a lower immune response to further, natural damage coming from the UV rays. This means the skin cannot protect itself, or the tattoo on its own and needs some help.
The help comes in the form of sunscreens with SPF higher than 30. Without sunscreen protection, the tattoo will start to prematurely fade, and there can even occur ink damage, odd pigmentation, and improper tattoo healing (if it’s still in the healing process).
How To Choose The Best Sunscreen For Tattoo Protection?
When searching for the right sunscreen, make sure to always pay attention to the following labels;
- SPF 30, 50, 60, 100+
If the sunscreen doesn’t feature any of these labels or misses even one of them, chances are it won’t be an effective sunblock for your skin and tattoo(s).
Are There Different Types of Sunscreen?
Yes, there are. The two types, most frequently mentioned in sunscreen discussion are the physical and the chemical sunscreens;
- The physical sunscreen – you may see sunscreens referred to as ‘mineral sunscreens’. This means they contain physical UV blockers, like mineral and vitamin ingredients. Physical sunscreen stays on top of the skin; it doesn’t get absorbed.
- The chemical sunscreen – now, chemical sunscreens work completely differently than the physical ones. These sunscreens get absorbed into the skin. As such, they also absorb the UV rays into the skin. There, the UV rays are converted into heat and released from the body.
So, now you may be wondering which type of sunscreen is the best for your tattoo protection. We’d say that both can be equally effective in protecting against sun damage. You just have to choose between absorbing and non-absorbing sunscreen in terms of your preferences. If you don’t mind being covered in sunscreen, then you maybe want to go with the fast-absorbing product.
What Should I Look For In a Sunscreen?
- Sun Protection Factor – for proper protection of the tattoo, you should go for sunscreens with a minimum of SPF 30. The highest you need to go is maybe SPF 60, but if you experience easy sunburning, or you have sensitive (pale) skin, you can even go with SPF as high as 100.
- Broad-Spectrum Protection – this means that the sunscreen protects from both UVB and UVA rays. These two types of UV rays are super harmful to the skin and can contribute to skin cancer development.
- Moisturizing factor – you don’t want to use a drying sunscreen. Exposure to the sun dries out the skin on its own, so you need a hydrating, moisturizing sunscreen to compensate for the lack of moisture in the tattooed skin.
- Water resistance – you should always opt for water-resistant sunscreen. This means that it will stay effective for much longer since it isn’t affected by water or sweat. Without water resistance, sunscreen is useless and won’t protect your tattoo in different surroundings and temperatures.
- Application method – between lotions, creams, sprays, and sticks, you should think about the best application method suitable to your preferences. Think about the intended use of the sunscreen; if it’s for daily use or protection at the beach.
How Often Should I Apply Sunscreen Onto The Tattoo?
Sunscreen should be applied between every 80 and 120 minutes (up to two hours), especially if directly exposed to the sun (for example, on the beach, or swimming). Because of such frequent reapplication time, it would be super convenient to use sunscreen sprays or sticks. They’re easy to carry around and don’t make a mess during application. They’re also usually fast-absorbing, which is even more convenient.