Unless you want your very expensive (and painful) tattoo art to fade prematurely, both you and your tattoo artist will appreciate it if you add one of the best sunscreens for tattoos into your routine. Like it or not, you need to be using sunscreen on a daily basis (and reapplying!) to protect yourself from the harmful effects of UV rays — like early signs of skin aging or skin cancer — and that especially applies to your ink.
Tattooed fans of tanning, beware. According to San Diego-based dermatologist Melanie Palm, MD, UV and light exposure can cause changes in our skin’s immune cells, which can lead them on a “seek-and-destroy” mission on tattoo ink, considering the fact that it is a foreign substance to your body. “Alteration of the skin’s immune response and surveillance, along with a direct effect of UV on the tattoo pigment itself, leads to fading of color and pigment breakdown,” she says.
Does that mean there’s a type of sunscreen that works best on tattoos? As far as the level of SPF and the amount of sunscreen required goes, tattooed folks should ultimately be taking the exact same precautions as everyone else. “The recommendations are the same as for normal skin,” says New York City-based dermatologist Elyse Love, MD. “Apply at least an SPF 30 15 minutes before sun exposure; it should be reapplied with every two hours of prolonged sun exposure.”
But if you’ve got tattoos, you definitely want to be looking for mineral or physical sunscreens rather than chemical ones — they protect you from the sun as well as blue light, Connecticut-based dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD points out.
Just remember that none of this advice matters if you don’t actually wear the sunscreen — that’s why it’s best to stick to ones that don’t leave a cast and that you can apply quickly. Because, as Dr. Love says: “After a tattoo has healed, the best sunscreen is the sunscreen that will be used consistently.”
With all this expert advice in mind, we’ve rounded up every derm-approved sunscreen to slather on your old and new tattoos alike, all available at your favorite online shops like Amazon, Sephora, and Ulta Beauty. Take a look at these ink-guarding SPF products, below.
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