How to Protect a Tattoo From the Sun

Tattoo care is an essential part of the inking process, especially after you just spent your hard-earned money on a new tattoo. You may want to show it off to all your friends, but use caution when going out in the sun to prevent your artwork from fading. TeensHealth from the Nemours Foundation recommends letting the tattoo heal fully before exposing it to sunlight. Contact your physician if there are any signs of infection, swelling or pain.

Step 1

Place a bandage over the entire tattoo for the first 24 hours after application. Do not touch the tattoo or pick at it during the healing process.

Step 2

Wear clothing that covers the tattoo when going out in the sun until the tattoo and skin have healed. Do not expose the tattoo to direct sunlight or apply sunscreen to the healing skin for three weeks after application.

Step 3

Apply a thick layer of SPF 30 or higher sunscreen over the tattoo at least 30 minutes before going out in the sun for long periods. Use sunscreen on all tattoos, not just those newly applied. Excessive sun will cause fading on a tattoo of any age.

Step 4

Keep the tattoo dry for a minimum of three weeks after application. Do not swim or soak the tattoo for long periods, as this will increase the risk of fading, especially when combined with sunlight. A short shower will not cause problems.

Step 5

Reapply the sunscreen every two hours, especially if you are swimming or doing an activity that causes you to sweat excessively.

Things You'll Need

  • Bandage

  • SPF 30 sunscreen


If you spend the majority of your day in the sun, ask your tattoo artist to recommend a source where you can purchase color-protecting spray.

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