February is finally nearing its last days, and with March around the corner, we are all looking forward to more sunny days and higher temperatures. If you’re thinking about getting tattooed in the next month or two, the sunny days could affect you more than you think.
Just like your skin, the tattoo also requires proper protection against UV light, especially if you’re planning to show it off, proudly as you should. But, things may not be as smooth as you’d expect them to be. Putting sunscreen on a new tattoo could either make it or break it, depending on the tattoo’s healing process and whether it is fully healed or not.
So, because we’re nearing the tattoo show-off time in spring and summer, we’ve decided to tackle this important topic on time. So, if you’re wondering about sunscreens and tattoos, then you’re at the right place. In the following paragraphs, we’ll talk about when and how you can put sunscreen on your fresh ink. Therefore let’s get right into it!
When Can I Put Sunscreen on My Tattoo: Aftercare and Sun Protection
Why Does My Tattoo Require Aftercare?
After getting tattooed, the most important thing in the following period is the very tattoo aftercare. All of the precautions and tattoo care rules are there to help you prevent potential tattoo infection. Any disruption to the healing process can potentially mess up the tattoo’s design and create health issues. So, it’s rather important, and every tattoo artist will agree and emphasize, to take care of your tattoo the best way you can.
Now, sun protection is one of the most important aspects of tattoo aftercare. The UV rays are pretty damaging to the skin, but they also contribute to tattoo fading (speed it up, quite significantly). But, one needs to know when the tattoo requires such protection.
Why Should I Not Put Sunscreen on a Fresh Tattoo?
If you get tattooed during spring or summer, your tattoo artist will advise you to keep the tattoo covered (by wearing loose, light clothes), and spend minimum time in direct sun for minimum UV exposure. Now, of course, all of this is required until the tattoo heals completely. A fresh tattoo should not be covered with lotions or sunscreens.
You may ask yourself; why?
Well, a fresh tattoo is like a fresh wound. Your skin has been poked with a tattoo needle thousands of times (per second). Each puncture is creating a wound in your skin, which alarms the body into thinking you’ve been wounded and your skin was attacked. From there on begins the healing process. If not done properly, your body can easily turn the healing process into an infection of the tattoo, which is the body’s way of dealing with unwanted intruders, in this case, the ink.
Now, on top of the skin, this healing process looks like a healing of a regular tattoo. The tattooed area is super red at the beginning, the blood, ink, and plasma may be oozing for the first 24 hours, and the body is doing everything it can to quickly close the wound and prevent infection. That is where you need to assist your body’s natural healing operation by cleaning the tattooed area and preventing contamination by keeping it covered.
Another way you should protect your fresh tattoo is by NOT putting any kinds of lotions on sunscreens on it. As you wouldn’t put sunscreen on an open cut or wound, so should you not put it on freshly tattooed skin. Otherwise, you’ll be disrupting the whole healing process by increasing moisture in healing, drying tattoos. This can result in bacteria growth and buildup, which generally leads to serious infections and keeps the skin from healing properly.
Putting sunscreen on a healing tattoo can lead to long-term tattoo damage, which is often permanent and can only be dealt with by laser tattoo removal. Now, it would be a bummer to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars into your new tattoo only to end up getting it removed (which is also pretty expensive and may not guarantee full removal).
There is also the potential for scars, left either from the infection or the laser removal. Either way, not a fun way to spend your summer this year (or any year for that matter).
When Can I Put Sunscreen on My New Tattoo?
Here’s a straightforward answer; when your tattoo is fully healed. This is the only way you can actually start your tattoo sun protection journey. Until your tattoo is fully healed, you need to keep it covered when going outside by wearing loose clothes and spending as little time as possible in the direct sunlight.
Make sure to wear light, cotton clothes (or clothes made by other natural materials like wool), that are easy on the skin, breathable, and hypoallergenic. It is essential to keep the clothes from sticking to the tattoo in the first week or two, or until it closes fully. Otherwise, you might risk contamination of the tattoos, and potential infection.
To be more precise, it may take your tattoo between 4 and 6 weeks to fully close and heal. In some cases, the healing process is prolonged (due to a weakened immune system or improper aftercare routine), but a month or two are generally enough for the tattoo to close and heal nicely. Your tattoo artist will provide you with the potential healing requirements and the period in which the tattoo should heal considering the size of the tattoo, placement, and many other factors unique to you.
Here’s What You Should Know About Sunscreen For When The Time Comes
You Will Need to Buy Specific Tattoo Sunscreens
Yes, that’s right; you cannot just slap any generic sunscreen on your tattoo and call lit a day. Nope! You will need to buy a specific sunscreen designed for sun protection of tattooed skin. By using improper sunscreen, you can simply contribute to tattoo fading, skin irritation, itchiness, rashes on and around the tattoo, and so much more. This is because generic sunscreens contain harsh chemicals which are pretty damaging to the skin (especially sensitive skin such as tattooed skin).
So, which sunscreen should you buy? Here are some of our top recommendations;
- CannaSmack Ink Guard Sunscreen Stick SPF 30 – CannaSmak has created this incredible sunscreen stick for tattoo protection and fade prevention. The sunscreen is infused with hemp seed oil, omega 3 & 6, vitamins A, B, D, and E for the ultimate protection and high-end care of your tattooed skin. The sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB, and it is 100% hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic. The water-resistant formula makes it the perfect choice for this summer’s tattoo protection. Of course, the sunscreen formula is cruelty-free.
- EltaMD UV Active Broad-Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen – this is a high-quality sunscreen option that is recommended by tattoo artists across the country. The EltaMD sunscreen has a water-resistant formula, designed for daily use and active lifestyle, which we all have during the spring/summer period. It is rich in minerals and flavonoids and provides extra hydration and nourishment to the tattooed skin. The sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB rays, which are both fading, aging, and burning to the skin. It is also chemical-free, non-comedogenic, and water-resistant.
- Inkeeze Ink Shield Sunscreen Spray SPF 50 – Inkeeze provides specific tattoo products required for proper tattoo healing and tattoo aftercare. Of course, they provide exceptional sunscreen options designed for tattoo protection. This sunscreen spray has an SPF of 50 and will protect your tattooed skin from UVA and UVB rays. The sunscreen is lightweight, gentle, and has no harmful chemicals. It isn’t sticky or greasy and it will protect your tattoo from fading, 100%.
You Will Need To Buy Breathable, Non-Sticky Sunscreen
The aforementioned sunscreens are completely lightweight, breathable, non-sticky, and grease-free. But, why are these features so important. Well, your skin needs to breathe, just like you do. Without oxygen, it will feel like it’s suffocating, literally.
By putting on generic, low-quality sunscreens, you’re closing the tattooed skin and enabling dirt buildup and bacteria growth. Did we mention that you’ll be suffocating your own skin as well? Yes, without oxygen, which the sunscreen prevents from getting to the skin, your tattoo might have a hard time regenerating from sun exposure and it may start to fade, quickly.
You Will Need To Buy Fragrance- and Dye-Free Sunscreens
Added chemicals like fragrance and dyes can simply irritate the skin. That is why you need to pay attention to the ingredients of the sunscreen you will use specifically for the tattoo protections.
Generic, low-quality sunscreens contain artificial ingredients which stand for ‘trouble’. Your tattooed skin is super sensitive and required chemical-free, gentle sun protection that is also super effective against UVA and UVB rays. Again, make sure to check out our recommended sunscreens; they’re super gentle on the skin but provide exceptional sun protection without irritating or suffocating the skin.
So, the final conclusion would be; DO NOT put sunscreen on a new, healing tattoo. You’ll risk damaging and painful infections and might completely mess up the tattoo design. Wait until the tattoo is completely healed. Only then can you truly enjoy being outside in the sun, but with proper sunscreen protection. To prevent potential issues, we recommend you get tattooed in colder months, so your tattoo is fully healed by spring and summer.
Either way, new and healing tattoos should be well hidden under loose clothes. If you’re not sure whether your tattoo has fully healed, make sure to pay a little visit to your tattoo artist (if possible) and have them look at your tattoo. If it’s closed, completely scabbed, peeled and mat, it is probably fully healed and you are safe to apply (proper, high-quality) sunscreen.