Got Ink? Protect Your Tattoo from the Harmful Rays of the Sun

Jul 07 2015 sun safety Sunscreen tattoos

Whether you choose to have a small tattoo that you can hide away from the world, or a dramatic, colorful piece of art that covers a large portion of your body, getting a tattoo is a big decision. It is a big investment of money, time and pain, not to mention that it is permanent.

Tattoos are a lifelong, permanent investment in body art

The financial hit you’ll take when getting a tattoo can vary greatly, depending on factors such as size, number of colors and complexity of the tattoo. Individual tattoo artists have different pricing structures that also include the time it will take and the skill level involved. The price of tattoos can be in the $100 range for a small, simple tattoo soar into the thousands. Searching for a reputable tattoo parlor in your area is part of the process. And, of course, choosing the perfect design for your tattoo is vital. All are big decisions and an investment of your time. The actual tattooing process can be time-consuming and painful. And then comes the healing process, complete with itching, peeling and flaking.

Yes, tattoos are investments that deserve care in preserving.

Protecting your investment from the sun

As do old photographs, tattoos can fade when exposed to the sun. After the investment you’ve made in your tattoo, that’s the last thing you want. Use a good sunscreen when venturing outside and be vigilant about it. The American Academy of Dermatology advises that you protect your skin as well as your tattoo with a high-quality, broad-spectrum sunscreen, one that protects from both UVA and UVB rays with a 30 SPF or higher such as Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen Sport or Regular, that is also water resistant. Don’t forget to reapply every two hours when outdoors.

“First, it is important to apply a zinc oxide or titanium dioxide-containing sunscreen,” advised dermatologist Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank. “These are physical blockers rather than chemical ones and work by reflecting the light. They, in general, offer the highest degree of sun protection and now come micronized, so they rub in relatively clear without the pasty white discoloration.”

Definitely stay out of tanning beds and away from sunlamps if you want to protect your tattoo.

Permanent makeup tattooed on your face needs protection from the sun as well. Use a lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher for lips and wear a hat to protect permanent eyeliner.

New tattoos need extra attention while healing. New tattoos can react poorly to sunlight, causing fading, blurring and damage to the skin. Never use sunscreen on a new tattoo. The best plan is to keep the tattoo totally out of the sun, but if that isn’t an option, make sure the tattoo is completely covered when in the sun by clothing. With enough exposure, tattoos can scar and can actually rip out scabs in the first couple of weeks. If a tattoo has healed correctly, it is possible to touch it up if fading occurs over time, but if the skin has been damaged, it limits the amount of correction that can be done, if any. Make sure to follow all of the tattoo artist’s aftercare instructions carefully.

Written by Jo Northup