Can You Get A Tattoo On a (Fake) Tan: Getting a Tattoo During Summer

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During and after the summer vacation, the skin changes significantly, especially if you don’t protect it properly with sunscreen. Exposure to the UV rays during the holiday and hours of sunbathing can not only give you a tan but also potentially damage the skin. On the other hand, an increasing number of people opt for spray-tan salons to get that sunkissed skin, thinking the damage would be minimal, while the tan would be natural and sunkissed.

Either way, during the summer holidays, it is almost impossible to avoid getting a little bit of a tan, even when you’re avoiding the sun. So, what if you want to get a new tattoo during or after the summer? Will your tan, fake or natural, affect the whole tattooing process, or will the damage to the skin be even more significant?

In the following paragraphs, we’ll discuss the issue of getting a tattoo onto tanned skin and see what your options are. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Tan and Tattoos: Everything You Need To Know

Tan and Tattoo Everything You Need To Know
Credit: Instagram

Tanning Levels

It is important to start this topic by explaining that there are several skin tanning levels that can determine whether you can get a tattoo or not.

  • Moderate Tanning

Also considered the most natural tanning, moderate tanning means your skin has tanned slightly after a few days at the beach. There is no redness, burning sensations, or overall sunburn appearance of the skin. This means that the skin was also protected by SPF between 30 and 60. Moderate tanning is perfectly fine in case you want to get a tattoo; there should be no issues in regards to tattoo color appearance or skin damage, but more on that later.

  • Sunburnt Skin

This means you’ve spent too much time sunbathing, with or without proper SPF protection. There is a general redness to the skin, sometimes even pain or skin peeling. The skin is sensitive and painful to touch, which is far from the ideal scenario if you want to get a tattoo. Sunburnt skin means there is significant skin damage, and the skin simply needs time to heal. Sunburnt skin generally implies first- or second-degree burn, which can be accompanied by blistering, peeling, and pain.

Also Read: Can You Get Tattooed If Your Skin Is Peeling From Sunburn?

  • Fake Tan 

Fake tan, whether done in tanning beds, standup, or spray tans, can be treated as natural tanning. If you have a moderate, natural-looking fake tan, this means the skin damage is minimal and you can get a tattoo, providing you’ve used an SPF protection. If your fake tan is intense, chances are you won’t be able to get a tattoo. The skin damage is too high, and there could be issues with tattoo ink smearing, or the inability of the tattooist to make the tattoo look bright and natural.

  • Self-Tanning Products

Generally speaking, self-tanning products do change skin pigmentation, but when you apply the product it only sits on the surface of the skin. It doesn’t really damage it as UV rays or fake tan would do. However, self-tanning products can make the tattoo appear darker. It is recommended to not apply self-tanning products if you want to get a tattoo, just to ensure the design and the color look bright and properly colored. Otherwise, the tattooist might have a hard time matching the ink colors.

So, Can I Get Tattooed If I Have a Tan?

So, Can I Get Tattooed If I Have a Tan
Credit: Instagram

As we mentioned, you can get tattooed if you have a specific tan level. So, if you’ve only been at the beach for a few days, and you’ve got a natural tan, there shouldn’t be any issues with getting tattooed. The reason for this is that only the surface of the skin, or the outer layer known as the epidermis, only got to tan. Because the ink goes into the dermis, or the inner, middle layer of the skin, there won’t be an issue caused by the tanned outer layer.

Ideally, it would be best to wait for at least a week after you’ve got a tan, just to let the skin process the tanning and even it out. Of course, SPF between 30 and 60 is a must if you want to protect the skin and prep it for potential tattooing.

The same goes for moderate fake tan or self-tanning products. So long the tan is in the realm of moderate or natural, there is no reason to not get tattooed.

However, if your skin is sunburnt, or your fake tan is not hiding the fact that it is fake, tattooing is a no-go. Now, the reason for this is that sunburning means you’re dealing with second-degree skin burns.

This means that the skin is highly sensitive since it has undergone trauma and damage. Of course, there’s the pain, redness, and peeling of the skin, which makes things even more difficult. In the case of severely sunburnt skin, not only is the epidermis affected, but also the dermis. Because of this, one can experience serious skin damage, blisters, and excessive peeling.

In the case of tattooing sunburnt skin, the tattooist will have a number of issues, like;

  • The client will be in a lot of pain (tattooing damaged, sunburnt skin hurts like hell, and no professional tattooist will do that)
  • Because of skin damage and peeling, the tattooist will have visibility issues
  • Because of the skin tan and redness, the tattooist might have a hard time matching the ink color properly to the natural skin color
  • There is always a risk of ink smudging
  • The tattoo artist won’t have full control over the whole process
  • The client might not be satisfied with the outcome
  • The client might have a hard time following the tattoo aftercare
  • The tattoo healing time might be prolonged
  • The tattoo could get easily infected, due to skin peeling and blistering as a result of sunburning

How To Get Tattooed With a Tan?

Well, considering your skin is not sunburnt or covered in layers of fake tan, it is essential to prepare your skin for the tattooing process in case of a moderate or natural tan. Here are some tips to utilize during the preparation;

  • Clean your skin properly; before tattooing, it is essential to take a shower and get rid of bacteria and germs sitting on top of the skin. This especially applies in the case of self-tanning products. By skipping this step, you increase the risk of tattoo infection later on.
  • Shave the designated tattooing area: this is important for everyone about to get a tattoo. If you don’t shave the area, your tattoo artist will, so you might as well do it in the comfort of your home. Hair can make tattooing much harder, and generally obstructs the visibility of the skin during the tattooing process. So, make sure to shave, and try to not get a razor cut; this can further damage the skin and make tattooing more painful and risky in regards to infection.
  • Do not expose the skin to UV rays before tattooing – it is ideal to leave the skin to rest and heal for a few days before getting tattooed. This will minimize the risk of sunburn and further skin damage, ensuring the tattooing process goes as smoothly as possible. Also, stay away from the tanning lotion, for a few days, just to ensure the skin is properly prepared.

Can I Get a Tan After a Tattoo?

Now, in case you got a tattoo and you decided to go away for a vacation, or you want to visit a tanning salon, here’s what you need to know;

  • Exposing a fresh tattoo to the sun can contribute to healing issues and promote the risk of an infection
  • Exposing a new tattoo to UV rays can promote ink fading and skin aging
  • Exposing the new tattoo to fake tan can result in tattoo inflammation, especially in the case of spray-on tan and self-tanning products
  • Applying spray-on tan and self-tanning products can darken the tattoo

The only thing you should be applying to a tattoo is, in the beginning, antibacterial soap to wash it, and later on, moisturizing lotion or ointment to keep the tattoo hydrated and nourished. Other than this, self-tanning products, spray-on tans, and similar, skin pigment-altering products can cause harm and potentially an infection.

Now, what about getting a tan after the tattoo is fully healed? Well, a tattoo requires up to 6 months to fully heal. After that period, you can try to get a tan but bear in mind that fake tan and self-tanning products can darken the tattoo. There are numerous tanning lotions intended for use on tattoos as well.

When it comes to sunbathing, you need to apply an SPF product onto the tattoo to prevent premature fading and tattoo aging. Generally speaking, your tattoo shouldn’t be exposed to UV rays for a longer period, so keep that in mind during the summer months.

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