Sun is your worst enemy when it comes to skin care. It’s a well known fact that UV rays damage and age your skin. No needless to say the sun can be detrimental when it comes to tattoo aftercare. Summer is definitely a more popular season for us – despite winter or fall being the best seasons to get tattoos (we might touch on this matter in another blog post). As previously mentioned in our blog Tattoo After Care Tips there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to taking care of your tattoos. Every studio or artist might have their own tips and recommendations however we can almost guarantee that no tattoo artist will encourage sun exposure when it comes to tattoos.
Is sun protection still important if my tattoo is already healed?
The short answer would be yes. We understand that not everyone is in team pro-sunscreen for everyday use. For many of us sunscreen might be an occasional thing only for summer beach getaways. However you will be surprised how different your tattoo will look over time by applying sunscreen on a daily basis. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun damage the DNA of skin cells promoting premature skin aging and in extreme cases skin cancer. Using sunscreen will protect your skin from ultraviolet rays meaning it will reduce the effects of skin damage. Thus even if a tattoo is fully healed we would recommend to apply sunscreen to minimize any further skin damage which can also aggravate the fading of the ink.
Can I use any sunscreen?
If you never used sunscreen before look out for the terms ‘broad spectrum and SPF30+’. According to American Academy of Dermatology broad spectrum means it protects both UVA and UVB rays. Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30+ and over is recommended as it will protect 96% of UVB rays. Water resistant sunscreen would be recommended for sports or swimming. If you have a long day out, reapplying sunscreen every 2-3 hours is advised.
Different sunscreen brands have different formulas and texture. Some products are more eco-friendly and exclude certain chemicals that damage coral reefs. Also if your skin is on the sensitive side, it’s always better to educate yourself with potentially harmful chemicals and really look in to the ingredients included in the product of your choice. There are a few sites where you can educate yourself, for example the non-profit website run by Environmental Working Group (EWG) has one of the largest database for cosmetic products.
Should I apply sunscreen on my fresh tattoo as well?
We do not recommend applying any sunscreen on fresh tattoos. A fresh tattoo is basically an open wound so you don’t want to apply anything that can interfere with the healing process. If you are in a situation unable to avoid sun exposure with a fresh tattoo, we would recommend to have it covered with UV protective clothing. Try to protect the tattooed area with a non-chemical barriers and avoid direct exposure from the sun. You can start using sunscreen after your tattoo has fully peeled which is usually around 3weeks after the procedure.
If you end up getting a sunburn on your fresh tattoo, it will take a lot longer to heal. It might even start to blister leaving your skin and the tattooed area with lasting scars. Skin damage at this degree can easily advance in to an infection so seeing a doctor would be highly advised. Also, don’t be too sure that a touch up will simply reverse the damage because most artists would be very reluctant to do a touch up for a client who did everything the artist told them not to.
Are tanning machines okay?
Tanning machines are an absolute NO NO when it comes to tattoos. These machines essentially concentrate UV rays into a box so your skin can be damaged in a shorter duration of time. If you absolutely must, we would recommend to use sunscreen on the tattooed area to avoid any further complications or fading.