Warm weather and the desire for a beautiful golden tan means one thing to many people - sunbathing. OK, I'll admit it. I've always been a sun worshipper. To me there is nothing like the feeling of warm rays soaking into your skin as you bask away all the stress and worries of the day. You'd never know that looking at me now. Why? Because of my tattoos.
It's no secret that tanning isn't really good for your skin anyway, but it's even harder on your tattoos. Ultraviolet rays, while adding a nice bronze tone to your skin, drain the life out of a tattoo. The more you tan, the more the ink fades and slowly goes from brilliant to boring.
Does that mean your tanning days are over? Well, I guess that depends on how much you love your tattoos and want them to stay bright and looking their best. I can certainly empathize with anyone that also loves the sun and just can't stay away. If you absolutely must go soak up some rays, at least be sensible and use sun block. Find the highest SPF level you can find and re-apply often if you're going to spend a lot of time outside. If you just can't accept having pasty white skin and your goal is to go out and get some color, make sure you at least protect your tattoos with as much sunscreen as possible.
What about tanning beds? Indoor tanners are just as damaging as the sun, if not more so. The ultraviolet rays are much more concentrated and people tend to over-expose themselves in tanning beds, not realizing their own limits. Burning the skin damages a tattoo even more than slowly tanning. Again, if you must do it, protect your ink!
If you don't like laying out in the burning sun or getting a tan, does that mean you're not at risk? Maybe not. Most of us spend more time exposed to the sun than we realize. Ever get home and find your left arm sunburned from resting your arm on your car window while driving? Or find yourself getting tan lines just from running errands or working outside? Any time that your tattoo is going to be exposed to the sun, cover it! You can cover it with clothing or sunscreen, or stay in the shade.
Brand New Tattoo
Don't put sunblock on a new or fresh tattoo - follow your artist's aftercare instructions and keep your tattoo covered or shaded with clothing for the first few weeks. You can use sunblock once your tattoo has finished peeling and has grown it's first protective layer of skin. But sunblock alone is not going to be sufficient for a new tattoo if it is exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time. A tattoo is usually considered well-healed after about 3 months.
Sunless Tanning Lotions?
If you use sunless tanning lotions for a tanned effect, this is as safe to your tattoo as applying any other type of lotion. As long as the tattoo is completely healed, nothing can hurt the tattoo that doesn't hurt the rest of your skin. However, depending on the shade and color of the particular sunless tanning lotion you use, it may create an odd effect to your tattoo's appearance. It would make more sense just to avoid putting the lotion directly over the tattoo.
Don't be a Gambler
Your tattoo is an investment, so don't gamble on that investment by not properly caring for it. It takes very little effort to either cover up or safeguard your tattoo with sunscreen. Proper care can keep a tattoo looking vibrant for years to come.