Can I Tan After Getting a Tattoo? How Long to Wait

With the hot summer sizzling away, we cannot help but be torn between enjoying the warmth and also worrying about the safety of our skin. Despite being one of the most wonderful things, the sunlight and the warmth can actually be super harmful to the skin, especially if the skin is sensitive or damaged in any way.

Sun protection, additional clothing layers, and general avoidance of direct sunlight are highly recommended during the summer months. Nevertheless, we also like to an during the summer; the sunlight makes the skin look healthy and cinnamony, and that is what we’re all about. With the proper care and protection, tanning can be super enjoyable.

But, what about those with fresh, new tattoos= Can you truly enjoy the summer and tanning if you just got your tattoo done? That is why we’re here; in the following paragraphs, we’ll explore the tanning options for people who just had their tattoos done and see how can this summer be enjoyable despite the tattoo. So, let’s get started!

Can I Tan After Getting a Tattoo?

The Aftermath of the Tattoo

Before we get into the tanning topic, we need to first go over the very period after you’ve gotten your tattoo done. This is important so we can explore the best way to go through summer and hopefully get a little bit of tan going on.

Now, once your tattoo is done, as you may know, it will stay wrapped for a few hours; a maximum of 48 hours. During the one or two days, your tattoo will continue to ooze, bleed and be generally active. You may even notice a bit of ink leakage, which is completely normal. After all, the body is dealing with a foreign matter and a wound as well; it’s a lot and it can take some time for the tattoo to start healing.

Now, once the activity has subsided, that means you can remove the wrap fully, clean the tattoo thoroughly (with lukewarm, soapy water), and leave it to dry and close. During this period the tattoo will start the healing process at its fullest; it will start to crust, itch, and require regular hydration (via lotion and ointment). Once the tattoo is fully clean and mattified, and there is no crust or peeling of the skin, it means your tattoo is fully healed.

Now, to get to this final healing part, you might have to wait between one and two months, depending on the size, type, and placement of the tattoo.

In those weeks and months, your tattoos need to be fully protected from anything that might cause damage, irritation, and potentially lead to an infection. Everything, from scratching to wearing tighter clothes is a no-no! This includes sun exposure, but more on that in the following paragraphs!

Sun Exposure – Yes or No?

Now that we have an insight into the aftermath of the tattooing process, we can start exploring some tanning options, or the lack of them.

Let’s start by saying this; direct sun exposure is out of the question for new tattoos. Unfortunately, until the tattoo is healed, you will have to keep it covered and hidden from direct sunlight. But, why, you may ask.

Well, new tattoos are extremely sensitive and susceptible to irritation and inflammation. They behave like an open wound that needs to heal, which can take a bit of time. That is why every single tattoo artist emphasizes the importance of aftercare and provides the clients with a detailed guide through the aftercare process; what to do and what to avoid.

One of the things tattoo artists will tell you is to stay away from the sunlight. Direct sunlight exposure damages even the healthiest, strongest skin. Tattooed skin is damaged and super sensitive as it is, so to avoid further skin damage and irritation, which can lead to tattoo infection, one needs to keep the tattoo covered and protected.

So, tanning with a new, healing tattoo is a big, definitive no in our book. Unless you want to irritate the already sensitive skin into being more damaged, and potentially inflamed, then yes, you could go sunbathe. But, we doubt you would want a messed-up tattoo on your body, not to mention all the pain and discomfort. In that case, let’s continue!

Note: People seem to think they can tan with a new tattoo if they put sunscreen on the tattoo. This is something you DO NOT do while the tattoo is healing. Nothing should be put on a freshly healing tattoo. Only when the tattoo is starting to dry up and close can you apply the thinnest layer of lotion to keep the skin hydrated. You cannot put sunscreen on a healing tattoo; it will irritation, inflammation, infection, overall prolonged healing, and a messed-up tattoo design.

Also Read: How To Protect Tattoos While Tanning: Your Guide to Safely Tanning With Tattoos

When Can I Sunbathe My Tattooed Skin?

Only when the tattoo is fully healed can you start gradually exposing it to direct sunlight. Now, bear in mind that even a freshly healed tattoo is still sensitive. You still need to be extra careful and not spend too much time in direct sunlight. Sun protection with an SPF of 50 is a must as well. And, even with sunscreen, you still need to further protect the tattoo by avoiding prolonged exposure to sunlight, and of course, the harmful UV rays.

So, when can you freely go sunbathe in the sun, without any worries? We would say this; if you just got your tattoo, then next summer is when you can truly enjoy the long tanning sessions. Even then, sunscreen is a must because prolonged sun exposure can promote tattoo fading. But, there is no risk of irritation or infection compared to the new, fresh tattoo.

If you’ve gotten your tattoo 2 or 3 months ago, we’d say that you can go on with your usual summer activities, including tanning, but with extra attention to reapplying the sunscreen every few hours. This especially applies if you’re swimming. By reapplying the sunscreen you’re ensuring additional protection and you’re preventing early tattoo fading.

Also Read: How To Waterproof a Tattoo for Swimming? – Get Your Tattoo Ready for Summer!

What Can I Use To Protect The Tattoo? – Sunscreen Options

Once a tattoo is fully healed you can start providing additional protection in the form of high-quality sunscreen. Now, traditional sunscreens are known to be a bit too harsh for sensitive skin, especially skin that has been tattooed. So, if you’re looking for sunscreen options, we’ve gathered some of our favorite sunscreens in one place for you to check them out;

  • Colorscience Sunforgettable Total Protection Sport Stick SPF 50 – this exceptional sunscreen will provide exceptional protection for sensitive skin, including tattooed skin. The sunscreen is hypoallergenic, fragrance-, paraben-, sulfate-, oil- and dye-free. It provides UVA and UVB protection, as well as protection against pollution and infrared radiation. The formula is non-stick, mess-free, and water-resistant, which makes it perfect for hot summer days.
  • Elta MD UV Active Broad Spectrum SPF 50 – another exceptional sunscreen is the EltaMD broad-spectrum sunscreen. This is a high-quality product intended for all skin types, but it works especially well on sensitive skin. The sunscreen formula is non-comedogenic, chemical-free, and rich in hydrating ingredients; everything your tattooed skin needs to stay healthy and protected this summer. You can use this sunscreen daily, especially if you’re leading an active lifestyle outdoors.
  • Bioderma Photoderm Mineral Fluide SPF 50 – this is our new discovery, and surely one of the best sunscreens you can use. It is specially designed for sensitive skin, which makes it perfect for your tattoo protection. The sunscreen is designed to protect against UVA and UVB and provides up to 8 hours of hydration. It is a water-based formula, which makes it non-sticky and non-greasy, as well as ultra-light. Thanks to the antioxidant vitamin E, this sunscreen provides cellular protection; it protects the skin cells from oxidative stress, which is known to chronically damage the cells and contribute to health issues.

Final Thoughts

We know that it is hard to avoid direct sun exposure or to ignore the urge to spend one’s days tanning at the beach. But, for the sake of your tattoo, which is intended to stay on your body forever, you need to pay attention to skin protection more than you would usually do. It is essential to let the tattoo heal at its own pace, and keep it clean and protected in the process.

So, if you’re dealing with a fresh tattoo, keep it covered and stay away from the sun. Sure, you might not be tanned this summer, but at least you’ll be ready to show off your cool tattoo the next summer holidays; and it will be fabulous!

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