Most people know that the sun can be extremely harmful to all tattoos no matter how new or old they are. However, many people are unsure about the effects that sunscreen may also have on a new tattoo, and what problems it could potentially cause during the tattoo healing process.
Should You Put Sun Lotion On A New Tattoo?
No you shouldn’t. When a tattoo is created, it is basically just a large open wound until the skin around it begins to repair and regenerate itself.
While a tattoo is healing, the area usually becomes extremely sensitive to many things that regular undamaged skin can usually handle perfectly fine.
Applying sunscreen to a new tattoo can cause several issues that could possibly prolong healing times, and can even cause visual long-term damage to the appearance of your ink.
Below are the main reasons why it’s generally discouraged to apply sunblock onto a new tattoo:
Many commercial sunscreens often contain chemicals in them which can be very harsh to sensitive areas of skin (such as new tattoos).
These chemicals can cause redness, irritation, rashes, itching, and if applied too often on a new tattoo, they can also cause areas of ink to fade/lose color.
Artificial Colors & Scents
Lots of over the counter sun protection products contain artificial colors and scents to create a more visual and sensual appeal.
However, many new tattoos can be extremely sensitive to these artificial additives, and even artificial ingredients in soaps and lotions have the ability to cause irritation to a new tattoo.
When a new tattoo is healing, it requires as much fresh air (oxygen) as possible in order to regenerate efficiently.
The problem with putting sunscreen on a new tattoo is that the lotion is generally thick and non-absorbent. This means that it usually ends up sitting on top of the skin, thus creating a barrier which blocks out the required oxygen.
Another issue is that if the sunblock is smothered on extremely generously and creates very thick layer over the skin, this layer creates a warm and humid environment between itself and the skin, and this is the perfect environment for bacteria and germs to thrive and multiply, increasing the risk of infection.
Suncream tends to be quite sticky – it seems to have a good ability at picking up and holding onto grit and dirt for hours after initially applying it.
Because of the greater chance of getting bits of grit and sand etc stuck against your new tattoo, you are increasing the risk of these little objects getting lodged into the wound, causing potential cuts & grazes, and even infections.
So What Should I Do To Protect My New Tattoo In The Sun?
As mentioned – new tattoos are very sensitive to most things, with the sun obviously being one of them.
New tattoos are so sensitive to the sun in-fact, that it’s best to just keep them completely out of strong, direct sunlight until the area has completely healed.
Although this may be a big hindrance, especially if you’re going on holiday or you have a day at the beach planned – you must think about the ink on your body that you’ve just paid lots of money for, and which you was most-likely waiting a long time for.
Our advice would be to keep the tattoo out of direct sunlight for at least 2-3 weeks, or until it looks completely visually healed.
If you must go out, then try to keep within shaded areas or keep the tattoo covered up by dark clothing (lighter clothing is generally less capable of keeping out harmful UV rays from the sun).
Can I Put Sunscreen On My Tattoo After It Has Healed?
Certainly – and it is completely recommended. The sun is your tattoo’s worst enemy, and prolonged sun exposure can massively increase the rate in which your tattoo begins to discolor and fade.
You should always aim to apply a layer of sun cream to your tattoo each and every time you plan to go out into strong daylight.
You should preferably choose a cream/lotion that is at least SPF 30 (there are higher SPF products available but the further benefits are negligible).
You should also try to ensure that the product is water resistant, moisturizing, and kind to sensitive skin to ensure that your tattoo remains in the best condition as possible for the longest amount of time.
Best Sunscreen For Tattoos
My favorite and most recommended sunscreen for using on tattoos is a lotion called Majestic Pure Natural Sunscreen.
This lotion has all of the attributes required for not only protecting your tattoo amazingly well, but also for helping to keep it bright and vibrant.
This sun cream is suitably strong at SPF 30+, it’s water resistant, it has great hydrating properties, and best of all it’s made up of 100% completely natural ingredients.
Read more about Majestic Pure Natural Sunscreen here and have a quick look at some of the customer reviews and you’ll see why it’s one of the most popular sun tanning lotions on the market.
If you’re looking for even more protection, there are also dedicated tattoo sunblock sticks available (like the Coppertone Tattoo Guard) that you can use to top up tattooed areas of skin conveniently whenever you feel that your ink may be in need of slightly more protection.
Whilst a strong and good quality sun tanning lotion is definitely helpful at keeping a tattoo protected against the extremely harmful UV rays of the sun, it is not advisable to use any until the tattoo is completely healed. Therefore, you should try to keep your new tattoo away from direct sunlight for at least 2-3 weeks.
However, you can (and should) definitely put sunscreen on a tattoo that has already fully healed, and you should do this whenever you predict that you’ll be going out in strong, direct sunlight for extended periods of time.