It’s a beautiful day, the sun’s out. It’s the perfect time to get outside and catch some rays! Well, if you have tattoos, you might have to think twice before heading out the door.
Sun exposure can cause your tattoos to fade. In fact, the sun is often named as one of the worst things for a tattoo. Although all tattoos fade naturally over time, sun exposure can drastically speed up the process. It can dull the colors in your tattoo as well as being dangerous for your health.
But even though the best thing for a tattoo might be staying out of the sun completely, don’t despair! There is a simple way to protect your tattoos without having to hide inside all summer. That is investing in a tattoo-friendly sunscreen. Professionals recommend using a high factor, at least 30 SPF. You should also look for products that protect against both UVA (aging) rays and UVB (burning) rays.
Be aware with new tattoos. Tattoo artists recommend you keep new tattoos out of the sun for between two weeks and six months. You also shouldn’t use sunscreen on them until they are fully healed.
But once your tattoo has healed, you can get back outside. And there are a whole host of products out there specially designed to protect your tattoo properly. Now you just need to choose one. But don’t worry, we have done the hard work and scoured the market for the best sunscreen for tattoos. Check out the list below!
Best Sunscreens for Tattoo Protection (2024 Update)
1. CannaSmack Ink Guard SPF 30 Tattoo Sunscreen
The SPF 30 CannaSmack Ink Guard Stick offers long-lasting protection for your tattoos and is specially designed to maintain the vibrancy of tattoo ink. It is water-resistant so it’s the perfect companion for a beach holiday or mixed weather conditions.
It is super easy to apply to your tattoos with precision and get even coverage as it has a sturdy stick applicator. It is not too big so it’s also great to throw into your bag to stay protected on the move.
This product is a lifesaver for those with skin issues as the product has no parabens, sulphates, phosphates, gluten, harmful preservatives, or petroleum by-products. It is made with all natural ingredients including Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Oil. This contains Omega-3, Omega-6, Vitamin A, B, D, & E, making it particularly moisturising for the skin while still being lightweight.
It also has no added scent so great if you (or your skin) prefer natural products. If you enjoy heavily scented products this might not be for you. As well as its ingredients being au naturelle, the product is cruelty free and made in the US which is a great added bonus.
So if you want durable tattoo sun protection that is also ethical and environmentally conscious and works for most types of skin, give this a try!
2. Tattoo Goo Renew Enhancing Lotion SPF 30
Tattoo Goo Renew is a 30 SPF sunscreen that helps keep your tattoo from fading by protecting it from sun exposure. The special thing about this product is that it also claims to revive the colors in old tattoos, and also helps promote a faster healing time. That means this product can be a good choice for both young tattoos that haven’t been in the sun much yet, and old ones in need of rejuvenating.
The intense moisturising formula is made from 95% natural ingredients including Olive Oil, Vitamin A, D and E. The moisturising effects are what should bring out both the black and colored ink in your tattoos, while preventing any new fading. They will also reduce tension in the skin, making skin appear younger and improving the appearance of tattoos.
The formula is light, non-greasy, and super easy to apply. It absorbs quickly and doesn’t clog your pores so you can easily wear it daily in both summer and winter.
As well as offering protection, this product can also be applied to cuts and grazes, sunburn and windburn so can be a good all-in-one product for protection and healing. It is also petroleum and linoleum free.
Overall, this is a solid choice for anyone who wants to enhance the look of their tattoos along with reliable protection.
3. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant
Although not strictly designed for tattoos, with a 100+ SPF protection, this tattoo-friendly sunscreen is perfect keeping your skin artwork protected from damaging uv rays.
If you want sun protection without a build-up of product on your skin or a heavy finish, this is a great option. The formula is lightweight and doesn’t feel greasy, or look shiny, on application. It’s suitable for all types of skin and fine for use on face and body. Light but moisturising, the matte finish sunscreen dries sheer. You won’t be waiting around for this product to dry either. It uses Dry Touch Technology to make sure it absorbs quickly into your skin so you can get on with your day.
If you are heading to the pool or the beach this product is water resistant for up to 80 minutes, just remember to reapply. It is available in the bottle, as a spray or in stick form so choose your favourite application method.
With added Avobenzome, and Helioplex Technology, the powerful formula protects against UVA and UVB rays. It is also PABA free, an ingredient that can cause skin allergies, and non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t cause your pores to clog up.
This is a great product for daily use, it isn’t too pricey and is a super powerful option for maximum tattoo protection.
4. H2Ocean Surfers Choice Tattoo Care Sunblock Spray
Are you a surfer that struggles to find a sunscreen that lasts in the waves? Let alone one that protects the planet and doesn’t use any ingredients that harm corals? Look no further and check out the Surfer’s Choice Tattoo Care Sunscreen spray!
With a whopping SPF 50, this product is built to withstand the hot sun, as well as being water resistant for over 80 minutes. It protects against both UVA and UVB rays and contains Tattoo Protek to protect your ink and skin from sun damage. It is packed with moisturizing Aloe Vera which gives the product soothing properties too. It’s perfect for surfers spending intense periods in the hot sun and in the sea and in need of all over protection.
Also, the company H2Ocean is dedicated to protecting the planet and ecosystems. They both use natural red sea minerals in their products as well as omitting harmful chemicals often found in sunscreens that wash off into the ocean and damage corals. In fact it has been estimated that up to 14,000 tons of sunscreen gets washed into the sea and into corals each year so this is the perfect product for swimmers and surfers.
But it’s not just for surfers. The easy spray-on applicator and formulation that dries in just 30 seconds mean it’s ideal for anyone getting active outside, experiencing hot conditions, or anyone that wants quick grab-and-go protection before heading out. It’s also safe for children. Why not give it a try?
5. ProTan INK TATTOO FADE SUN SHIELD STICK
This specialised ProTan Ink Tattoo Fade Sun Shield Stick comes in an easy applicator stick so you can apply it straight onto your tattoos. It has SPF 30 for sun protection as well as being designed to rejuvenate and refresh the look of your tattoos. It will elongate the life of your tattoos, combatting fading. It also uses Color Brite Technology to stop the dulling of colors and to improve the overall brightness of your tattoos.
If you are looking for protection specifically for your tattoos rather than all-over sun protection this is a great product to keep-to hand. The stick gives you total control over application. Make sure to apply liberally over your tattoos; the extra-wide stick helps with this. The sun shield stick is also great to use on the nose ears or face. It has a moisturising formula and a non-sticky, non-tacky finish.
If you like getting active, and often get a sweat on, don’t worry this product is totally sweat proof! It is also resistant to rain and water so it is good for all-weather situations. It should also keep you smelling fresh with the delightful scent of cotton candy. Just don’t get tempted to eat it!
So if you need speciality sun-protection to keep your tattoos looking bright, why not check this out?
6. Banana Boat Ultra Sport Sunscreen Lotion
Calling all active people with tattoos! The powerful Banana Boat Ultra Sport sunscreen is the ideal protection while getting down and dirty outside. It is tattoo-friendly while also offering top all-over protection from UV rays.
Durable and long-lasting, this specialist formula is designed to stay on through these seven tough conditions:
- Pool water
- Ocean water
- Extreme heat
With a heavy-duty 50+ SPF protection, whether you are out and about with the family or competing in extreme sports, keeping your tattoos protected from the sun will be the last thing on your mind. Especially as the sunscreen is lightweight, breathable, and absorbs quickly. The sweat-proof, water-resistant formula means you will stay protected even when undergoing high-endurance, extreme outdoor activities. Just make sure you re-apply after 80 minutes of heavy sweating or swimming!
Another great thing about the Banana Boat sunscreen is that you get a good amount for an affordable price. You can also get up to 100 SPF which can be great if you are super fair-skinned or prone to burning.
Overall this option is good bang for your buck. Particularly if you love sports, being outside, heading to the beach or doing any active, outdoor activities.
7. Tattoo Care Sunscreen Ointment for Tattoo Sun Protection
The final product we have included is this Sunscreen Ointment from Tattoo Care. It is a double-whammy as it both protects tattoos and helps them heal faster. Therefore if your tattoos are new or old, this could be the ideal sunscreen for you.
It contains 30+ SPF which blocks out both UVA and UVB rays. At the same time, it adds a second ink barrier for extra tattoo and skin coverage to actively fight against tattoo ink color changing and fading from sun exposure.
The ointment also contains natural ingredients like Bisabolol, Calendula and Vitamin E. It creates a highly moisturizing formula and texture which have soothing properties to revive the look of tattoos. It also nourishes your skin at the same time giving it a well-needed pamper and doesn’t dry it out. It has a non-greasy finish and can easily be applied underneath makeup. The ointment is also paraben-free and contains no allergens so can be a good option if you have skin issues. It still smells great though with a cocoa and coconut scent.
At 1.35 oz this product is best for small tattoos but is compact and lightweight for keeping handy when you are out and about. If you have a lot of larger tattoos perhaps consider something in a bigger size.
This product is also water-resistant so it can be used on the beach, at the pool or during sports where you might sweat or get caught in the rain.
What is the best sunscreen to use on tattoos?
Any sunscreen will work to protect tattoos from the sun, but it is recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology to use a sunscreen with at least SPF 30. Look for something long-lasting and with a high SPF for maximum protection. Creams can be a good choice as you can see where you are applying more easily than sprays or oils for example. You can also get many products specially designed for tattoos, as listed above, which are particularly well-suited for this use. Shop around for your needs, but these products usually have other desirable qualities such as having easy applicators, being extra moisturizing and having water-resistance.
Is sunscreen OK for new tattoos?
No, you shouldn’t use sunscreen on new tattoos. The sun can be extremely harmful to the skin at the best of times, but when a new tattoo is healing the skin is very sensitive and can be particularly susceptible to damage by the sun and chemicals in products. It is recommended to keep new tattoos covered up until that are totally healed. Although research about the effects of sun damage on new tattoos is inconclusive, it is possible it will elongate the healing time and could cause visual damage too. If you need to expose a young tattoo, some sunscreens include after-care and healing properties.
How soon can you use sunscreen on a tattoo?
You should wait at least until your tattoo is fully healed before exposing it to the sun and using sunscreen on it. How long that takes is not always the same for everyone, and can depend on how well you care for it, but usually, it will take between two and three weeks to heal on the surface. When it is at this stage, you can do things like go swimming, and can tentatively start using sunscreen. For your tattoo to completely heal under the surface will take longer, up to six months, so when you can, it is recommended to keep tattoos loosely covered during this time.
How do I protect my tattoo from the sun?
As we have discussed, the sun can cause your tattoos to fade and the colors to dull. The best way to protect your tattoo from this is to keep it covered completely. Wearing loose clothing to cover it will do this. But the next best thing is to make sure to use a high SPF sunscreen. Even if it is not the hottest day, doing this everyday will maintain your tattoo’s brightness most effectively. You can still be exposed to harmful UV rays even on days that aren’t super sunny!
Can you tan with tattoos?
When your tattoo is new or healing avoid tanning at all costs. Either naturally, on the beach or in a sunbed, the high intensity of UV rays will be damaging for new tattoos. When your tattoo has healed, however, you can tan as long as you protect your tats well. Obviously the more you expose your tattoos to the sun, the more likely they will fade quicker but with proper care, this can be kept to a minimum while still enjoying the sun.
So if you have one tattoo or 20, make sure you keep them protected by using sun protection (read more). There are a lot of great products out there, and with these 7 best sunscreen for tattoos options, you are spoilt for choice to keep your tattoos looking fresh!
No one, absolutely no one, wants sun damage. That's why we always have a bottle of sunscreen when heading to the beach. If it's broad-spectrum, it protects you from two types of UV light that are UVA and UVB rays.[...]
We all love to show off our tattoos. No one gets a new tattoo with the intention of hiding that art form from the world. We all love to show off the tattoos on our hands, legs, shoulders... That’s why[...]
There are obvious immediate benefits of sunscreen, such as healthy, hydrated skin. Then there are long-term gains that you'll notice years after you start using sunscreen regularly. But, both short and long-term gains depend on the brand you choose. If[...]