Skincare Skills

by Lydia

Skincare blogger

October 25, 2020

Best Sunscreen for Tattoos

You think tattoos require only immediate or short-term aftercare? If you want your precious ink to be in for the long haul, you have to think long-term too. You simply cannot expect a tattoo to look fresh once the rays of the sun start weighing heavy upon it. At such times, you wonder “what is the best sunscreen for tattoos?”

Let me bring to your attention that the ink is susceptible to fading when exposed to the sun. After all, UV rays tend to disintegrate and degrade your pigment chemical structure. And when you don’t put on a sunblock or tanning lotion for tattoos, whether tanning or not, this process takes place even faster.

It’s a fact that the body sheds skin on a daily basis. This is not under your control, right? Instead, what you can control is how fast or slow the shedding occurs. So think twice before you skip sunscreen as it does more than just leave a horrible burn. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself getting a tattoo touch-up sooner than you can imagine.

As for the level of SPF (1); the higher it is the better, obviously. But how do you go about choosing the best brand? The answer is not that complicated actually. Just make sure whatever you pick doesn’t contain a hoard of chemicals. Much like the 10, I have reviewed below!

#1 Coppertone SPF 50 Tattoo Guard Stick

Coppertone SPF 50 Tattoo Guard Stick

Here’s presenting the best sunscreen for tattoos in a stick form. Stick means right-on-spot, precise application. Meaning you know you’re applying the sunscreen exactly on the tattoo and the area around it.

So what does this Coppertone SPF 50 Tattoo Sunscreen contain? Ingredients that form a protective layer against the sun while also nourishing your skin. Ingredients such as antioxidants, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C. It’s a moisturizing formula to maintain the smooth appearance of your tattoo and skin.

But is the product dermatologist-recommended and/or hypoallergenic? The answer is YES and YES. So if you have sensitive skin, you know it’s well looked after.

And as you’re already aware, the level of SPF is 50, which is quite generous. It does an excellent job of protecting your tattooed skin against the potential damage caused by UV rays. So your tattoo doesn’t fade or blur, which is great news if you really love the way it looks on you.

This tattoo guard stick is also water-resistant by the way. It looks like a huge chapstick, but for your tattoo. But it’s only after application that you spot the white ring around the ink. In my opinion, this white tannin fails to matter as long as your tattoo doesn’t fade. And if you’re #1 priority is also tattoo protection, I’m sure you won’t have a problem with it either.

#2 CannaSmack Ink Guard SPF 30 Tattoo Sunscreen Shield Stick

CannaSmack Ink Guard SPF 30 Tattoo Sunscreen

Let me start by telling you that this tattoo sunscreen shield stick by CannaSmack offers UVB and UVA protection (2). In simple words, now you can expect your tattoo to not fade because of any photodegradation effects caused by the UV rays of the sun. Sounds promising, doesn’t it?

The formula is water-resistant, non-comedogenic, and hypoallergenic. It is not just created for conventional tattoos only. You can use this SPF 30 sunscreen shield stick on microblade eyebrows also if you like. And since it comes in the stick form, precise, spot-on application is possible.

As for the ingredients, the list is very impressive actually. There’s hemp seed oil, which is packed with Vitamins E, D, B, and A along with Omega-6 and Omega-3. So your tattooed skin receives more than just sun protection. It feels nourished and hydrated too. And this is very useful if you want your tattoo to look bright, and feel protected of course.

What’s more? Harmful additives like artificial fragrances and colors, parabens, gluten, sulfates, etc. are not used at any point during the manufacturing process. And once again, the applicator is mess-free. What’s also worth bringing to your attention is that the product is not animal-tested.

To be honest, there’s no particular drawback I would like to discuss. It’s just that sunblocks in the form of a stick are not easy to apply on large tattoos. But this is a very subjective matter, so you might not have to deal with it entirely.

#3 Australian Gold SPF 50 Tattoo Stick

Australian Gold SPF 50 Tattoo Stick

There’s no doubting the capacity of this SPF 50 tattoo stick by Australian Gold. It provides fade protection and keeps ink discoloration at bay. The thing about sunscreens is that, as long as their SPF level is high, you can rest assured knowing that your tattoo is going to be well protected. This one is specifically formulated for preventing the fading of ink.

The stick is wide enough for an easy and convenient application, which is good for bigger tattoos as well. Just one pass and you’ll be able to cover a broader area. The thing looks very much like those deodorant sticks you get these days.

As for fad protection, like I already told you, expect only positive results. That means all your worries regarding the discoloration of your tattoo due to sun exposure should go out the window. What’s also quite impressive here is that the Australian Gold tattoo sunscreen is a product you can rely on for both outdoor and indoor tanning.

But the size of the tattoo stick is not something you can rely on if you have many tattoos on your body. It’s a very small stick that might run out quickly. But you can expect it to last if those tattoos are very small in size. Even so, the price to quantity ratio is a bit disappointing. Especially when you want such an effective sunblock for tattoos to last for a long time!

#4 H2Ocean SPF 45 Sea Life Sunscreen

H2Ocean SPF 45 Sea Life Sunscreen

Do you know those sunscreens that leave a greasy feeling on your skin? Many sunscreens out there do that. So if you want to steer clear from that unwanted oily texture, go for this H2Ocean SPF 45 Sea Life Sunscreen. It’s a water-resistant formula, which means even when sweating, the sunblock stays on your skin and doesn’t enter or irritate your eyes.

Even better news is that its SPF-45 level protects the tattoo during sun exposure. It keeps your ink vibrant and doesn’t encourage fading at all. Now you might already know that tattoos get lighter over time. Maybe you can’t avoid that from taking place since it’s a natural process. But you can certainly slow down the fading. Simply by using the best sunscreen for tattoos like this one!

You should know you’re not just applying sunscreen to protect your tattoo. Skin protection is also a part of the picture. In fact, it plays a major role when it comes to making your precious ink look fresher and brighter. The UVB and UVA protection in here takes care of that pretty well.

Rubbing in the formula is no hassle either. Along the same lines, the texture isn’t oily or greasy. And this is just what you might want to hear if you have oily or combination skin.

Even though the canister the sunscreen comes in is small, there are no complaints pertaining to quantity. And that’s because you don’t need to use a lot of it for a single application. Even the smell isn’t overpowering. It’s a gentle yet very effective sunscreen for both skin and tattoo protection against the sun.

But it does leave white chunks all over the tattoo. However, this is a common concern with most sunscreen for tattoos. So does knowing this make the drawback easier to overlook?

#5 Tattoo Goo Color SPF 30 Guard Stick

Tattoo Goo Color Guard Stick

What this contains; specialized UVA/UVB inhibitors. And what they do is protect your tattoo from fading. The SPF 30 may be lower than the others on this list, but it’s definitely very effective when it comes to keeping the ink from losing its color.

There are many ingredients present in here that enhance the color of your tattoo. Along with moisturizing it! The stick is large enough for precise application. And you can use it for tanning purposes. But the brand, MOSPRO has mentioned that you should allow your new tattoo to heal for at least 3 weeks before applying this sunblock.

It’s not animal-tested, which is quite a relief. Another reason to breathe a sigh of relief is that the formula stays on your skin throughout the day. So you don’t need to keep re-applying it every 3-4 hours. Consider this as a waterproof tattoo chapstick if you will.

So if plenty of summer tanning is what you’re looking forward to, the guard stick might help with that. This stuff actually works. You can do a patch test if you like. Only the areas where you’ve not applied the sunscreen are bound to turn red and show signs of sunburn. This is tried and tested, believe me.

Now your skin can tan as much as you like, but not your tattoos. Isn’t that amazing! So what’s the negative takeaway? Well, to be honest, the texture of the formula is not very pleasing. Not that it’s sticky or anything, but touching the skin after application doesn’t feel so pleasant either.

#6 Tattoo Care Sunscreen Ointment for Tattoo Sun Protection

Tattoo Care Sunscreen

When you like not one but many properties of a sunscreen, you have to review it. Why is this one of the best tattoo sunscreen? It’s because the water-resistant formula offers high skin and high ink sun protection. And because the skincare product is dermatologist-recommended.

What the sunscreen does is protect the tattoo against the sun, obviously, but also against drying. It nourishes the skin the tattoo is inked on. In fact, this sunscreen moisturizes the surface and below it very deeply for long-lasting smoothness and softness.

Sun exposure, whether tanning or not, gives rise to inflammation and sometimes even itching. This is very common in the case of tattoos. So the SPF-30 sunblock ointment relives this kind of itching and inflammation. It also goes a long way in bringing back your skin elasticity.

But what are the actual ingredients responsible for providing so many skin and tattoo benefits? Natural stuff like Vitamin E, Bisabolol, and calendula are included. And the things not included are allergens and parabens.

The amount you get in a single tube is enough for a few applications on either small or medium size tattoos. But not for larger ones! So you might have to buy 1 or 2 tubes more.

In all, it’s a thick sunscreen that works on tattoos like magic. In fact, the formula is capable of protecting your skin and preventing sunburn while also bringing back the smoothness. Tattoo care is the most impressive quality here, even in the most sensitive areas.

Just be careful when squeezing out the lotion because you might end up squirting it all out and wasting a large amount. And I blame the faulty, defected tube design for this.

#7 INK Tattoo Sunscreen Spray SPF 50+

NK Tattoo Sunscreen Spray SPF 50

When the UVB/UVA protection is maximum, you can actually prevent tattoo fade. If you know this to be true, then why not consider buying the current SPF 50+ sunscreen spray! The spray offers fine mist that provides complete coverage protection.

This tattoo sunscreen is formulated using coconut oil, aloe vera, and Vitamin E. Along with a very powerful and healthy blend of antioxidants that offer skin soothing. All this natural stuff is truly capable of keeping not only your tattoo but also your skin well protected against the sun.

What’s even more remarkable is the toxin-free, cruelty-free, residue-free, and fragrance-free nature of the product. It’s Certified Vegan and reef safe. So the oceans are also just as protected as your ink and skin.

Since it’s a spray doesn’t mean the application part is difficult or full of hassles. The fine mist sunscreen dries and gets absorbed quickly. It’s actually very useful for too many tattoos or larger tattoos on the body. You won’t believe how fresh it can make your tattoo look after spraying.

As for those with sensitive skin, you require a sunscreen for tattoos with no fragrances. In that case, this one fits the bill perfectly well. And the sunblock doesn’t even leave a greasy or oily residue. The parts covered with this, as opposed to the areas that aren’t, experience no sunburn at all.

To be honest, there’s no stumbling block you might come across. So don’t expect any such thing either.

#8 Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen

Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen

Now here’s a popular brand that has been a part of the industry for quite a while. Blue Lizard’s reputation and quality are very impressive. And the proof of that is the abundance of positive reviews on Amazon.

This Australian sunscreen is certainly not created for tattoos specifically. But the formula is packed with every single ingredient you expect a sunscreen for tattoos to have. For starters, there’s zinc oxide with SPF 30+ for true wide-range protection against UVB and UVA. No wonder this one’s also dermatologist-recommended.

The broad-spectrum kind of sun protection just gets stronger with the addition of Vitamin E. The latter is very useful when it comes to keeping the skin thoroughly moisturized.

It’s a water-resistant sunscreen, so it’s not going to wash off even when you’re sweating. You’ll also find titanium oxide in here as another active ingredient besides zinc oxide. Both are like physical blockers that protect your ink from discoloration and fading.

However, these are chemical ingredients. Meaning you should keep away from them if your skin type is sensitive. But when it’s not, there’s no reason for you to dismiss this Blue Lizard sunscreen. Even if your skin tans easily or you wish to indulge in prolonged sun exposure, the SPF 30+ has you covered.

#9 Sun Bum Original Moisturizing Sunscreen SPF 30 Lotion

Sun Bum Original Moisturizing Sunscreen

Don’t you think tattoo sunscreens should also moisturize while providing sun protection? I mean how else are your skin and tat going to look fresh! If you agree with me, then I think you’ll like this moisturizing sunscreen lotion by Sun Bum.

Even though it’s not specifically created for tattoos, the SPF-30 formula keeps your ink guarded against UVB and UVA rays. There are no harmful chemicals in here by the way. And the product is environmental-friendly, which means the oceans also remain safe. But it’s the broad-spectrum of the sunscreen that appeals the most to those with tattoos.

There’s Vitamin E and antioxidants that do all the moisturizing action. These particular ingredients also prevent quick aging. And since there aren’t harmful substances, your sensitive skin will appreciate the moisturizing lotion. Even when extended sun exposure like tanning is what you wish for.

One thing I would like to discuss here is information that only those with sensitive skin might want to know. As I already told you before, the SPF level is only 30. And this isn’t high or generous enough for sensitive skin. So please pick another sunscreen in that case.

All in all, the moisturizing sunscreen lotion has a very impressive rating and a great number of positive reviews on Amazon. And the stuff isn’t like those heavy sunscreens and lotions that leave your skin feeling oily or greasy all day. It offers perfect coverage and smells amazing.

#10 Supergoop Everyday SPF 50 Sunscreen

Supergoop Everyday SPF 50 Sunscreen

The last pick is not one of Amazon’s top choices for no good reason. This body and face sunscreen contains sunflower extract and an SPF level of 50. Together, they provide sun protection and defend your tattoo and skin from dehydration. Even against photoaging as a matter of fact!

The ultra-moisturizing effects it has on the skin and ink are hard to come by. The formula is lightweight and water-resistant. But it’s the former that makes the texture fast-absorbing. Natural extracts are a part of the mix. These include Bois de rose, basil, and citrus. Doesn’t sound like a commercial or typical sunblock, now does it.

There are many qualities that set the Supergoop sunscreen apart from the rest. The natural extracts for one, then the non-greasy, non-oily texture also counts. Particularly if you have oily or combination skin!

The smell can be slightly overpowering though. But I don’t consider this a flaw since it has no connection with the way the sunscreen interacts with and protects your tattoo. And if you think it leaves any white tint or residue, you’re wrong about that as well. The formula gets absorbed so quickly your acne-prone skin doesn’t even get a chance to trigger breakouts.

How Does The Sun Have An Impact On Your Tattoo?

You might already know by now that a tattoo fades as time goes by. It’s a very natural process. But when exposed to the sun, the fading accelerates. When the ink is lighter, the tattoo fades quicker. Lighter colors include orange, green, yellow, pink, and red. These demand more attention since they’re more susceptible to fading. On the other hand, darker colors like purple, blue, and black take a longer time to tone down.

But let me make one thing very clear. Technically speaking, it’s not really the sun that fades those tattoos. It’s the sun’s UV rays. These get absorbed into the skin, where they break down your skin pigment particles. If you’ve ever heard or read about tattoo removal, the laser procedure involves passing a hyper-strong and faster version of such artificial UV rays into the bloodstream.

So what I’m trying to tell you is that a good tattoo sunblock keeps your tattoo from looking dull and dehydrated when applied regularly.

Even the placement of your tattoo matters. How about when a tattoo is located on your back or shoulder where it’s not visible? That doesn’t really count you know. Meaning out of sight doesn’t imply out of mind in this case. If the area is not easy and convenient for you to reach, tell somebody else to apply the sunscreen for you. Just because it’s not visible doesn’t mean the region is not subject to harmful UV rays.

How to Ensure Tattoo Protection against the Sun

For your tattoo to stay in the prime of its life for a longer time, there are steps you can take in terms of tattoo care. And the best part about these tips is that they’re not so time-consuming or effortful to incorporate into your daily life.

Use a Sunscreen for Tattoos

Obviously, applying the best tattoo sunscreen is the most effective form of sun protection. Sunscreen does safeguard not only your tattoo but also your skin from sun damage and even cancer (3).

Whether the sun is shining bright or hiding behind clouds, never start or spend your day without using sunscreen on your face, body, and tattoos. A minimum level of SPF 30 is also a very responsible move on your part.

Keep Your Tattoo Covered

Now I don’t mean put on layers over layers to cover your ink. Light clothing also does the job as long as the tattoo is not directly exposed to the sun and its UV rays. When you make sure of that, you’re preventing long-term side effects caused by sun exposure on your tattoo.

By lightweight, I mean fabrics such as gauze and cotton that welcome breathability while creating a barrier between your skin and the sun. This extra layer is what keeps the tattoo shining bright.

Follow Tattoo Aftercare Instructions

No matter what, never play down the importance of tattoo aftercare. A new tattoo takes around 2 weeks to heal completely. Only after this period should you expose that area to the sun, if that’s what you really want to do. Going outdoors shouldn’t be a problem as long as the healing stage of your ink has been completed.

Once you allow the fresh tattoo and its wound to heal, you’re simply making sure you don’t aggravate the sensitive area further by exposing it to the sun.

How to Choose the Best Sunscreen for Tattoos

I have reviewed 10 of the best sunscreens for tattoos, but are all of them specifically created for ink? Not necessarily. So what do the ones that have been share in common with the ones that aren’t tattoo-specific? Let’s find out below!

Protection Against UVB and UVA Rays

This is often referred to as broad-spectrum sun protection. When the sunscreen offers broad-spectrum action, you should know that the sun’s UVB and UVA rays don’t do much harm.

Higher SPF Level

The minimum is 30 and the maximum is 50. If any sunscreen claims to be above 50, know that the higher level doesn’t really matter since it offers sun protection just the same.

In my reviews, I have listed 30 and 50 SPF sunscreens. So you don’t have to bother yourself with this particular factor.

Type of Sunscreen

There are sunscreen lotions, sprays, and sticks. Lotions are the most common. Sprays are a part of indoor and outdoor tanning routines. As for sticks, they’re just more convenient to use. Even so, nothing beats a sunblock lotion. It’s the most effective kind since you have to rub it to form a direct protective barrier. But the same holds true for sunscreen sticks as well.

Water-resistance

When it’s water-resistant sunblock, you can expect it to stay on even if you’re sweating. But please understand that a water-resistant sunscreen needs to be reapplied after around 30 minutes to 1 hour. No matter how popular or effective it is. But I guess this time span is good enough for those who swim. I mean it’s not like you have to keep applying it very frequently.

Ingredients

Are the ingredients used toxic? Toxic substances include artificial fragrances, parabens, phthalates, and the like. Rather choose natural ingredients like vitamins, aloe vera, antioxidants, and many other such nourishing elements.

Tattoo Aftercare Tips

The process can be a little confusing, particularly if it’s your first time. So let’s talk about things you can do and things you shouldn’t.

What is Okay.

  • Using a hypoallergenic, fragrance-free soap as well as body moisturizer.
  • Using a moisturizer that makes room for your skin and tattoo to breathe. Clogged pores don’t let that happen by the way.
  • Applying the moisturizer once your skin dries completely.
  • Drinking lots of water for preventing dullness and dehydration. Plenty of water keeps the skin supple and moist.
  • Covering your new tattoo using bandage or an item of clothing whenever sun exposure is unavoidable.

What is not Okay.

  • Harsh chemicals or artificial fragrances that most soaps, body washes, and sunscreens are loaded with.
  • Fidgeting with blisters and breakouts, as that gives rise to scar tissue.
  • Petroleum moisturizers, non-cosmetic grade ones that are very likely to clog your pores.
  • Skipping sunscreen once the tattoo heals completely.
  • Making the fresh tattoo wound wet before it gets a chance to heal. This includes swimming too.

Final Words

So you finally got the tattoo you’ve had on your mind for such a long time. The new ink looks colorful and bright. But now what needs to be done cannot be neglected. You have to take the necessary steps to avoid skin infection. And not just that, once the fresh tattoo wound heals, you’ve got to make an effort to keep the ink from fading sooner.

The solution to all of those problems is the best sunscreen for tattoos. It’s a great start in that direction if you ask me. You have no idea how much damage sun exposure can do. Not only to the tattoo but also your skin! However, if you keep your skin well protected and moisturized, you’re also encouraging your tattoo to remain in the prime of its life.

Paying extra attention goes without saying actually. Ask any professional tattoo artist and they will tell you that you can never underestimate the importance of a good sunscreen for tattoos. So apply the sunscreen lotion even after your tattoo wound heals. Apply the lotion whether tanning or not. Every single time you go outdoors, apply the sunblock lotion. Period.

About the author 

Lydia

My name is Lydia Adams and I have been a skincare blogger in one way or another for many, many years.

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