How Soon Can You Use Sunscreen After Getting A Tattoo?

If you've gone through the trouble of choosing art to permanently display on your body, not to mention enduring the pain of being inked, then you surely want your tattoo to look fresh and fabulous for as long as possible. In order to do that, you need to protect your tattoos from the sun.

Even if your tattoo is in a place that isn't directly exposed to the powerfully sunny rays, the ink can still end up moving in the skin and you might suffer scarring. Beyond that, Marnie Nussbaum, MD, FAAD, an award-winning dermatologist who focuses on cosmetic and medical dermatology at New York City's Marnie Nussbaum Dermatology & Aesthetics, told Byrdie, "Sunburns and chronic UV exposure can damage the appearance of tattoos over time and lead to fading, wrinkles, and dullness [as well as] dryness."

In order to avoid ruining your tattoo, make sure to keep it covered whenever possible, or simply stay out of the sun at times. On top of that, you should regularly apply sunscreen to the skin where your ink can be found (not to mention pretty much anywhere and everywhere else that might be exposed to the sun). Granted, that's not something that you want to do right after you get a new tattoo. In fact, if you use sunscreen on your ink too soon, then you could end up harming your beautiful body art.

Don't use sunscreen until your tattoo can handle it

When you get a tattoo, the artist should give you clear instructions on how to take care of it in the following days and weeks. It's important to follow those details, which should include keeping sunscreen off your new ink. Dermatologist Robert Finney, MD told Refinery29 that if you put sunscreen on a tattoo that's just been done, you risk upsetting the delicate skin and could suffer from an allergic reaction.

"[Tattoos] are open wounds and should not be exposed to anything topical other than the ointments suggested by your artist," Mike Rubendall, tattoo artist and founder of Kings Avenue Tattoo, explained to Refinery29. In the same way that you need other kinds of wounds to close up before you put sunscreen on them, you need to wait for your tattoo to heal. The exact timeframe will depend on the placement of the tattoo, the size of the design, and how fast your particular body repairs itself. However, tattoos tend to take around four weeks to stop peeling. Although your tattoo may appear to be healed at that two-month mark, Healthline notes that it's still important to show it specific TLC. That includes keeping it clean and moisturized, as well as starting to cover it with sunscreen.

If you do so too soon, then you might end up subjecting your new tattoo to various sunscreen-related dangers.

Sunscreen can harm a new tattoo in various ways

Sunscreen's obviously meant to protect your skin. However, there are various ways that it can harm a new tattoo. For instance, some sunscreen formulas use potentially irritating chemicals, as well as artificial fragrances and colors, that can spark unfortunate issues in the spot where your ink is located, according to Authority Tattoo. Although these ingredients can be safe on normal skin, they could cause anything from itchy areas to redness and full-on rashes if you have body art that isn't completely healed.

On top of that, while the sunscreen keeps UV rays from being able to reach and soak into your skin, it does the same to the air. This isn't ideal due to the fact that your tattoo actually needs to oxygen to heal. On the other hand, a fair layer of sunscreen can trap heat and moisture against your skin, which can cause bacteria to grow and infections to happen which is definitely something you don't want around the open wound your tattoo has created.

Finally, sunscreen that comes as a cream can be rather tacky — in the icky, sticky sense — which means that it can collect dust, dirt, hair, fluff, and whatever else you might come across during the day. If any of this gets into the tattoo wound, then you could end up dealing with serious problems that you would surely prefer to avoid.