It’s almost summer—time to throw on the bikini or swim trunks and head to the beach! It’s time to start collecting that brilliant summer tan you’ll be showing off all season… It’s also the perfect opportunity to show off your ink for the world to see. But your ink is an investment and prolonged exposure to the sun (or tanning bed) can actually fade your tattoo, so it’s a catch-22. Do you show off your ink and risk sun exposure or do you cover up this investment which you spent so much money on?
Before you start panicking that you’ve committed yourself to a life indoors with pale skin, don’t fret. There are alternative options that will allow you to continue to enjoy the summer fun while still maintaining your body art.
There are many tanning lotions on the market which will help prevent fading. It’s vital that you always utilize something designed to protect your ink when doing any form of tanning. There are many products on the market that are made by tattoo-related companies which are specifically for those with ink—such as Ed Hardy’s Black Elixir Tanning Lotion, JWOWW Tattoo Color Protection, and Supre Tattoo Dark XXX Tanning Lotion, just to name a few.
Regardless of available products, you will find that most professional tattoo artists, as well as scientists, will recommend steering clear of ultraviolet (UV) rays for many different reasons. But, let’s face facts—hardly anybody listens. Recent studies have cited over 30 million people in the US utilizing some form of tanning method in 2016. The same study showed over 45 million people wearing at least one piece of tattoo art on their skin. There’s going to be some overlap.
When tanning, whether in a bed or in natural sun, it is important to reapply the product you are using. If you don’t have access to a cream or lotion specifically designed for tattoos, use the highest SPF sunscreen you can and reapply frequently. Burning and peeling can actually damage your tattoo faster than just sun exposure, so be very cautious not to prevent burning in any way possible.
Moisturizing will help lessen the effects of the exposure. Apply a moisturizer after a tanning session (whether natural or artificial) and any time your skin feels itchy, dry, or appears flaky.
It should go without saying, but let’s say it anyway, if you have a fresh tattoo, you should stay out of the sun! Your artist will provide you with an aftercare sheet detailing times and limitations on sun exposure (and other situations). Follow your artist’s instructions to the letter. Trust me, you’re going to feel the sun more intensely on your new tattoo than you would normally—so going out in the sun with a fresh tattoo isn’t something you really want to do, anyway.
Oh, and did I mention that a new tattoo is more susceptible to the sun’s rays so it’ll burn easier? It’s best to avoid direct exposure to the sun for at least two weeks, but if you want to play it safe stick to the shade for three to four weeks as you shouldn’t apply sunscreen to a fresh tattoo.
Regardless of your tattoo’s age, it will always be susceptible to sun damage, so it’s important to take care of this hefty investment you made in your body. Nobody wants a faded, sun-damaged tattoo… so make sure you take good care of your ink, especially during the summer months.