Can You Tan With A Tattoo? 6 Things To Know Before You Expose Your Ink To The Sun

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For those of you who beat the cold weather blues this winter by getting inked up, you might just be wondering as we inch closer to spring break, can you tan with a tattoo? Or is that like, a total no-no? Since spring break vacays are famously filled with airports, far-off destinations with friends, a few umbrella beverages, and yes, sunshine, it also means your new ink needs extra special care and protection — a priority that definitely needs to be at the top of your to-do list before you embark on your trip.

While you can, indeed, do just about anything with a tattoo these days, you do have to be extra careful with your ink in the sunshine. Believe it or not, the sun can actually fade the ink, not to mention the skin itself is a bit more sensitive to sun damage of any kind after the fact.

Now, don't let this deter your from your much-needed opportunity to seek warmer pastures and a little vitamin D this spring break. Just know that, along with enjoying the light and warmth, you simply can't forget to keep your skin protected from UV rays. Tattoos or not, sunblock is a must, OK?

Here's what you need to know about safely caring for your ink while you get yourself to the beach this spring break.

1If Your Tattoo Is Brand New, Be Extra Careful

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Now, if you've literally just been inked, and you're en route to spring break, you need to be super cautious about caring for your skin. I know you want to enjoy the sun, but keep in mind, you can't put SPF on a brand new tattoo if it hasn't healed yet.

If your ink is still fresh when you arrive at your spring break destination, try to stay under an umbrella, and have your tattoo wrapped and absolutely out of direct sunlight until it's fully healed.

2If Your Tattoo Has Healed, Lather Yourself In SPF 30 Or Higher

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This is probably a good rule of thumb no matter what, but when you're lathering up your tattoos for some beach time or a long hike in the midday sunshine, make sure you're using a sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher.

3Remember, Sunlight Is Attracted To Dark Colors

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As trained tattoo artist Charlotte Dunn told Bustle, “Sunlight is obviously attracted to and absorbed by dark colors, so on dark areas of my tattoos they burn a lot easier."

She added that the tattoos do have a tendency to fade and weaken in color when exposed to direct sunlight, and while the darker colors might hold up better, they can be more tender. Across the board, the consensus simply seems to be that tattoos will absolutely look better throughout your life if you take care to keep them from the sun.

4Limit Your Sun Exposure

While staying entirely away from the sun is said to be the best thing you can do for your tattoo, if we're being real with ourselves, nobody's going to be indoors at all times, especially not during spring break vacation.

The next best bet is limiting your sun exposure, keeping yourself covered, and keeping SPF with you wherever you go. Remember, protection is about keepin' that ink fresh, but it's also about keeping your skin healthy, too!

5Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

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No matter what, you're definitely going to want to moisturize every time you get out of the sun. Keep a nice big bottle of shea butter with you in your hotel room so that you can lather up after any sun exposure. Moisturizing is important for your tattoos in general, but it's especially key when they've been in direct sunlight.

6Take Care Of Sunburn ASAP If It Does Happen

Do your absolute best to avoid getting burned, but if you do, don't just suck it up and brush off the pain.

Stay out of the sun completely while the burn is healing, moisturize, and drink lots of water. And again, the newer the tattoo, the much, much, much more easily it will burn.