Can You Put Sunscreen on A New Tattoo?

Going out into the sun with a inked tattoo is a terrible idea. Many people believe that sunscreen can protect a new tattoo. It may be tempting to layer on sunscreen and exposing your new tattoo to the sun! By doing so, you’re only putting yourself at serious risk.

Applying sunscreen and frolicking around in sunlight may ruin your tattoo. It’s important to know the risks of applying sunscreen to a new tattoo.

Why you should protect your tattooed skin from the sun.

Sun rays (ultraviolet radiation) kill skin cells, causing ink loss. A loss of ink will distort and blur your tattoo. A brand new tattoo will fade at an accelerated rate when exposed to the sun.

During the healing process of a tattoo, your skin contains much less melanin than normal. Melanin is the natural pigment in the skin that protects your skin from ultraviolet radiation. Tattooed skin is damaged and you must take extra steps that you normally wouldn’t take to protect your skin.

Once your tattoo is healed, it is important to wear sunscreen. Sunscreen will increase the lifespan of your tattoos freshness. However, if you apply sunscreen before your skin is completely healed, it will lead to unnecessary complications.

Should You Put Sun Screen on a NEW Tattoo?

NO! Applying sunscreen to a new tattoo has a huge chance of damaging it. There are certain risks that you will be exposed to if you put sunscreen on a tattoo that is still healing.

You should understand why you shouldn’t put sunscreen on your new ink. Sunscreen is thick, full of chemicals, and contains artificial colors and fragrances. Additionally, sunscreen is sticky and can give you a false sense of security from the sun.


A new tattoo is a wound in your skin. To heal properly, it must be able to breathe. This means that a healing tattoo needs to be exposed to the air. Sunscreen creates a barrier preventing moisture on the skin. This has adverse effects on the healing process.

The thickness of sunscreen is just one of the reasons why you shouldn’t apply it to a new tattoo!


Sunscreen contains chemicals which can be harsh and irritating to healing skin. The chemicals in sunscreen can cause redness and bumps, distorting the image of the tattoo. Itchiness caused by the chemicals in sunscreen can also encourage you to itch your healing tattoo. Scratching injured skin will only extend the time required to heal.

Artificial Colors and Fragrances

In addition to chemicals, sunscreen also contains artificial colors and fragrances. Normally, these artificial colors and fragrances would not cause issues with the skin. However, a tattoo creates millions of small divots in skin; a perfect way for these artificial colors and fragrances to penetrate the skin.

The artificial colors and fragrances can cause irritation and other uncomfortable symptoms. This is just one of the many reasons that you should keep sunscreen away from a new tattoo.


It is obvious that sunscreen is a sticky substance. Although it is normally great for sunscreen to adhesive to the skin, it doesn’t help a healing tattoo. The stickiness allows more than just the sunscreen to stick! It acts like glue that harmful substances can use to latch onto the skin.

Sand and other abrasive objects can stick to the sunscreen! This can interfere with the healing process by scraping the tattoo.

Bacteria can also use sunscreen to latch onto the healing tattoo. A tattoo is an open wound which bacteria and germs can take advantage of. Your tattoo could become infected which is a serious health hazard. It is dangerous and can ruin the image of the tattoo.

False Sense of Security

By applying sunscreen, you feel more protected from the sun. Sunscreen can give you a false sense of security, causing you to spend an unnecessary amount of time in the sun. Although they’re mostly prevented, some UV rays will still make it through the sunblock.

If you absolutely need to spend time outside, it is heavily advised that you wear dark clothing that covers your new instead.



What are the Alternatives to Sunscreen to Protect a Healing Tattoo?

Although it may be difficult, one option is to keep your new tattoo out of direct sunlight entirely. You will need to make some small sacrifices to keep your tattoos looking pristine. Abstaining from direct sunlight for the duration of healing is one such sacrifice. This does not mean that you have to stay inside until your skin is entirely healed!

Dark and Loose Clothing

Wearing dark and loose clothing when you go out is one way to protect your tattoo. Dark clothing with let less UV rays through than a piece of white clothing would.

It’s also important that the clothing that touches your new tattoo is loose. Tight clothing can apply damaging friction to the skin, stretching and chaffing the new tattoo.

Time Until Tattoo is Healed

Remember to follow these steps for 2-3 weeks or until your tattoo is fully healed. Keep in mind that different areas of your body will heal faster. Some skin repairs much faster than others. Everybody is different and everybody’s skin is different as well. The time it takes a tattoo to heal is a case-by-case basis, but generally it is within 2-3 weeks.

For the best looking tattoo, keep sunscreen off of your new tattoo until it is completely healed. By applying sunscreen to a tattoo, you’re applying sunscreen to an open wound. This is obviously dangerous and it is important that sunscreen does not go into an open wound!

Can I Put Sunscreen on a Tattoo AFTER it has healed?

YES! In fact, we recommend it. The trick to keeping your tattoos looking fresh is to apply sunscreen before going out! Sunscreen acts as a protective layer over the tattoo, preventing UV rays from damaging and discoloring the ink.

Tattoos naturally fade overtime, but the sun will act as a catalyst and speed up this process. Protect your skin with sunscreen to keep your tattoos looking sharp.

It is recommended that you apply a layer of sunscreen every time you go out. In addition to helping your tattoos, this also has great benefits to skin that is not tattooed. UV rays cause wrinkles and other skin conditions to act up; so make sure you apply your sunblock!

Tip: Plan the timing of your tattoo!

Going on a vacation while a tattoo is still healing on your body can be a pain. Traveling with a new tattoo can be difficult and may increase the risk of infection.

If you’re getting a new tattoo, try your best to get it a full 2 weeks before going on a sunny vacation. This will save you from the frustration and worry of ruining a new tattoo.

If you’re on vacation and want to get a tattoo as a souvenir, get it in the later parts of your vacation. Within the first few days after getting a tattoo, it can be prone to infection and may be uncomfortable. Don’t let this ruin your vacation!

Another great tip is to make getting a new tattoo a winter event. If you live in an area with a cold and non-sunny winter; winter is the opportune time to acquire new ink. You will be able to put the worry of UV rays and the sun on the back burner.


University of Chicago Medicine, “Sunscreens: Protect Your Skin”

U.S. Food & Drug Administration, “Sunscreen: How to Help Protect Your Skin from the Sun”