Sun and UV rays are the number one enemy of tattoos, no matter how old they are, so it makes sense that you’d want to get a headstart on protecting your fresh ink. But is putting sunblock on a brand new tattoo a safe bet? Not without extensive precautions; have a look at our article to learn more.
Table of Contents (clickable)
- 1 Should You Put Sun Lotion On A New Tattoo?
- 2 So What Should I Do To Protect My New Tattoo In The Sun?
- 3 Can I Put Sunscreen On My New Tattoo After It Has Healed?
- 4 What Do I Do If My New Tattoo Gets Sunburned?
- 5 Our Final Thoughts
Related: Best Sunscreen for Tattoos
Should You Put Sun Lotion On A New Tattoo?
The easiest answer for this question that requires the least amount of research is no, you should not put sun lotion on a new tattoo.
There are far too many dangerous components in sunscreen these days that it’s better not to risk putting anything on your new tattoo that may compromise the healing process.
The reason it can be detrimental to put sun lotion on a new tattoo is due to a few factors.
Many sunscreens advertised as safe for tattoos still contain extensive chemicals that are not only damaging to the ecosystem but also dangerous for your health. If you are not willing to research every ingredient in your sun lotion, you put your tattoo in danger of irritation, inflammation, allergic reactions, and severe burn.
Artificial Colors & Scents
Did you know that behind the added fragrance or parfum on an ingredient list is a composition of 50 to hundreds of chemical components? Many sunscreens, lotions, and soaps contain artificial scents or added dye that can cause severe irritation to a new tattoo, not unlike getting a sunburn.
Ever notice how sunscreen goes on really thick? That’s dangerous for a new tattoo, which requires a breathing period and can have its healing compromised through the humid environment caused by a layer of sun lotion.
Sunscreen is less absorbent than most other lotions or creams, and while a tattoo does require moisturization starting on the third or fourth day of healing, sunscreen tends to have adverse effects due to its consistency and could compromise scarring.
The issue with a sticky consistency in a sun lotion and a new tattoo is that sticky products tend to catch and hold onto hair, dirt, sand, and grit which could infiltrate your open wound, get stuck inside it, and cause infection.
So What Should I Do To Protect My New Tattoo In The Sun?
There is no doubt about the harmful effects of UV rays on tattoos, which can experience severe burning, color fading, or dullness with extensive exposure. For a new tattoo that is exceptionally vulnerable, there are still options you have available to protect you from sun exposure.
First and foremost, if you intend to get a new tattoo while on vacation or during the summer season, it’s best to plan around your beach visits. Organize your tattoo at the end of your vacation so you won’t be tempted to lay out with it, or postpone your beach visit until later into your healing journey. We recommend allowing your tattoo three to four weeks of healing prior to direct sun exposure.
If you absolutely must go out into the sun with your new tattoo, there is a product that is completely safe to use as soon as your tattoo stops weeping. We love La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Mineral Zinc Oxide Sunscreen with SPF 50 because it is a formula full of beneficial ingredients for a new tattoo, as well as antioxidant properties, while also having thermal water which helps cool down inflammation.
Check out the rest of our sunscreen recommendations
You can also wear light-fitting clothing which will help cover your tattoo if you go out in the sun. We do not recommend sun guards on a new tattoo because they are too tight-fitting and may cause irritation or tear scabs off a new tattoo.
Your safest bet in order to avoid the temptation of going out in the sun is to schedule your tattoos for colder months. While you may not be able to show it off right away, you guarantee healthier healing circumstances for your new ink.
Can I Put Sunscreen On My New Tattoo After It Has Healed?
Not only can you put sunscreen on a healed tattoo, but you absolutely should. Sun lotion protects your tattoo from its greatest enemy: UV rays. Applying sunscreen ensures the healthy aging of your skin and prevents the fading and dullness of older tattoos. In addition, old tattoos are still more prone to sunburn risk.
When searching for sunscreen to put on your tattoo, it’s important to keep a few factors in mind.
- Make sure it is eco and health-conscious; double-check the ingredients using the INCI Decoder website.
- Ensure it has a minimum of 30 SPF and beware of higher than 50, as chemical ingredients begin to enter the ingredient list for higher SPF counts.
- Look for sunscreens that contain Zinc Oxide which acts as an umbrella against UVA and UVB rays. The sunscreen you use should be broad spectrum.
- Don’t select anything with added color or fragrance, as this could cause an allergic reaction on your skin.
- Ensure you apply sunscreen 15 minutes before you go out in the sun, and reapply every hour or every time you go in the water.
It is also best to avoid direct sun exposure such as sun-tanning or tanning beds because this is not only dangerous for your skin health but will adversely age your tattoo.
What Do I Do If My New Tattoo Gets Sunburned?
If you are experiencing a sunburn on a new tattoo, your first stop should be at a medical center that will give you the advice and the ointment necessary to ensure optimal healing. You should avoid applying anything directly to your new tattoo, such as a cold compress or cooling ointment, unless advised to do so by a professional, as you don’t want to prolong the sunburn or cause further infection to the area.
After receiving advice from a medical professional, discuss the issue with your artist as you may require a touch-up or redo of your new tattoo, depending on the severity of the burn.
Our Final Thoughts
Even though the sun is the enemy of new and old tattoos, sunscreen cannot be applied directly to a new tattoo until a few days after weeping. In addition, some sunscreens advertised as safe for tattoos are actually harmful to new tattoos.
Your safest option is to avoid direct sun exposure altogether until you’ve given your tattoo at least three to four weeks to fully heal. And ensure you are using sunscreen on healed tattoos to keep them brighter and sharper for longer.