Best Sunscreen for Tattoos: Keep Your Tattoos Looking Great Longer
Tattoos are like paintings; they'll stay beautiful if they are taken care of and protected from damage. The ink from tattoos tends to fade as they age, especially when exposed to lots of sunlight. To keep them looking like the day you got them, consider buying protective tattoo sunscreen.
Quick Top 5 Sunscreens for Tattoos
Coppertone SPF 50
Reviews of the Best Sunscreen for Tattoos
Why Do I Need Sunscreen for my Tattoos?
While there are lots of other factors that can make the ink from your tattoos fade, the sun's UV rays can significantly speed up the fading process. Many tattoo professionals recommend covering your new tattoos for at least three months to finish the healing process, and when going outside, sunscreen should be carefully applied to protect your ink.
Best SPF For Tattoos
Generally speaking, if your tattoos are made of black ink, they take longer to fade while lighter colors like pink or green fade in a shorter amount of time. To prevent fading, the American Academy of Dermatology suggest a sunscreen with 30 SPF for the best sun protection.
Tattoo sunscreen or tattoo tanning lotion is especially recommended if you like to tan since tanning beds emit UV rays to darken the skin tone but also fade tattoos if they're not adequately protected. For even more coverage from harmful light rays, a broader spectrum SPF sunscreen protects against UVA rays that cause skin cancer and premature skin aging.
What to Look for in a Sunscreen for Tattoos
To make sure that the sunscreen you get is protecting your ink and skin, there are certain ingredients and specifications you should look for in a sunscreen. Some of these are essential in effective skin coverage while others need to be avoided.
It's better if your tattoo sunscreen is a cream since using sprays, powders, and oils can make you miss a spot since you can't easily see if you covered your entire tattoo. Creams are also harder to rub or wash off, unlike other forms of sunscreen that can be water and oil-based.
As mentioned before, your sunscreen should be at least an SPF or 30 or greater for maximum sun coverage and provide broad spectrum protection to fight against UVA and UVB rays. If you like to swim outside, a waterproof sunscreen will benefit you even more.
The ingredients you should want in sunscreen is zinc or titanium dioxide. Zinc oxide is a common nanoparticle in sunscreens since they don't break down in the sunlight and provide greater protection than any other sunscreen chemical approved in the US.
What you don't want is Vitamin A (Retinyl Palmitate) or Oxybenzone in your sunscreen. Vitamin A is good for your skin, but studies show that it can be harmful when applied to your skin and exposed to the sun. Unlike zinc oxide, it breaks down in sunlight in the presence of UVA and UVB rays.
Oxybenzone is known to induce allergic reactions and act similar to estrogen in the body, not to mention it's not very environmentally friendly, so it's best to stay away from this ingredient completely.
How Long Until I Can Put Sunscreen on a New Tattoo?
Most tattoos visibly heal after around two weeks, but according to Columbia University, a full 45 days is an appropriate amount of time for your skin to heal fully. You shouldn't apply sunscreen lotion too early in the healing process since your skin is especially vulnerable during this time.
After getting a tattoo, your skin starts to regenerate a new layer of skin cells, so it's important that the healing process isn't delayed or interrupted by certain chemicals invading sensitive skin areas. Depending on which body part you have your tattoo on, it can take more than two weeks for it to heal properly.
Overall, once the skin above your tattoo stops peeling and scabbing, then it should be safe to apply sunscreen, making sure to reapply it every couple of hours that you are outside.
What Strength of Sunscreen is Best for My Type of Skin?
Everyone's skin is different, especially when it comes to tattoos. Some people don't require a particularly strong sunscreen while for others, the stronger it is, the better. Your tattoos need protection regardless, but your chosen sunscreen also needs to cooperate with your skin type.
Moisturizing sunscreens often come in creams, lotions, and ointments which are ideal for dry skin. These usually contain ingredients like essential oils, lanolin, and silicones such as dimethicone which prevent dry skin. Dry skin also tends to be sensitive, so an SPF of 15 or more filters out around 93% of UV rays, usually enough to prevent skin damage.
Darker skin types usually get black ink tattoos which last longer than other colors, and while darker skin has more melanin - a pigment that naturally protects the skin from sun damage - that doesn't necessarily mean it can't benefit from sunscreen lotions. Thus, a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15+ is an effective choice.
For other skin types that may be prone to acne, peeling, or are older in age, stronger sunscreens with SPF 30 are a good strength to use since it blocks up to 97% of UV radiation and SPF 50 blocks up to 98%. A rule of thumb for issue-sensitive skin is the higher SPF, the more beneficial.
Tattoo Sunscreen vs Regular Sunscreen
To be honest, "tattoo sunscreens" are named so as just a marketing strategy, so there is no huge difference compared to regular sunscreens. In spite of this, tattoo sunscreens do tend to be a stronger SPF, but not all are guaranteed to protect your tattoo's ink from fading.
What matters in tattoo sunscreens is the ingredients. As mentioned before, some ingredients are essential in protecting your skin and others you should avoid since they do more harm than good. Contrary to popular belief, the sun's rays don't fade tattoo ink, but permanent skin damage does.