Memorial Day Weekend has come and gone, and school is almost out. It’s that time of the year when the skirts get shorter and the shirts lose their sleeves. We all wanna show off the great ink we got in the colder months, but sunlight is the ultimate way to break down our tattoos. The best way to protect those tattoos are to keep covered and use sunscreen on exposed skin when going in the direct sunlight. The sun’s UV rays produce UV radiation which can lead to all sorts of issues like sunburn, premature skin aging, cancer, as well as speeding up the tattoo fading process. Here are some best practices so you can keep your ink looking fresh and new.
Even if you’re just going out for a little bit, toss some sunscreen on anyway.
We get it — it’s just a walk around the block with your cute dog. But that minimal sun exposure still breaks down your skin and does damage, so slather some on and then get your walk on. Your tattoos and your dermatologist will thank you.
Choosing the right sunscreen for you and your tattoo.
A good rule of thumb is –– any sunblock is better than no sunblock! If you really want to maximize the health of your skin and tattoo, then always read the labels and look for a few key things. The term ‘broad spectrum’ is crucial for protecting against the different types of light rays and radiation from the sun. Use at least SPF 30 but anything over 50 isn’t necessary because after that the protection plateaus. Go for a rub-on lotion vs. a spray-on to make sure you have enough coverage and aren’t inhaling the mist. Last but not least –– chose natural ingredients over chemical all day, every day.
Spending the day outdoors? Reapply, reapply, reapply!
Put sunblock on before you find yourself in glaring sunlight, ideally at your house and in the shade. This way you’re not fighting time or your own sweat when you’re layering on that sweet SPF protection. Once you’re out and about, reapply every two hours to keep a sunburn and tattoo damage away. It’s easy to want to apply once and be done with it — after all, what a hassle — but it’s really better for the long term.
Freshly tattooed, still in your first few weeks? Cover that ink up.
We all want to show off our beach bodies, but your fresh tattoo shouldn’t be laying out in the sun. Until the tattoo has scabbed and peeled completely (typically 3-4 weeks), it is best to protect your tattoo from the harsh rays and sunscreen. You wouldn’t put sunscreen on a fresh cut so don’t put it on your fresh tat. Even the cleanest sunblock can be a bit gunky, so a shirt or shawl is better than layering on some Coppertone. Even a beach umbrella will do — just avoid the blazing direct sunlight.
You’re gonna wanna swim — wait until you’re totally healed.
It’s going to be so, so tempting, but you have to wait. You’ve got a healing wound on your body — salt water, chlorine, babbling brooks are all filled with different factors that can lead to infection and distortion. Wait until your skin is done flaking completely, no scabbing and no roughness, and then you’re good to go. It is always a good idea to get your tattoo artists approval before diving in even if you think your skin is healed.
What to do if your new tattoo gets sunburnt?
You were told a hundred times not to but you went out in the sun with your brand new tattoo anyways… now what? If your freshly done tattoo does get sunburnt it is going to take even longer to heal. So now you are going to have to protect your tattoo from the sun for even longer and be even more careful. Depending on the severity of the burn, your skin might blister which could cause permanent damage to the tattoo and surrounding skin. This could easily turn into an infection or cause a rash so a trip to the doctor for some antibiotics may be necessary. It is also likely that the sun has caused premature damage to the tattoo so you might feel the need to get it touched up. Touch ups are usually free depending on the artist but if they see the need of this touch up due to your carelessness, they might decide to charge you for it. The moral of this story is to just protect your tattoo from the very beginning!
Your tattoos are a part of your body now — treat your skin and your ink right, and you’ll have some real permanent beauty. Fading will, of course, happen no matter what, but whatever defenses you can employ now will save you later.