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  • Writer's pictureStacey Sharp

Summer, Sun & Tattoos

Ah yes, summer comes along and off goes everyones clothes. Everywhere you look it seems like everyone has a tattoo and those who don't have them suddenly want them. These are a few things you may want to think about before you go under the needle.

Sun and water can be harmful to a fresh tattoo. Please take care of your ink. Avoid swimming or soaking in the pool, ocean, hot tub or bathtub for at least 2 weeks after getting your tattoo. The ink needs time to heal into the skin. No matter what, that tattoo is going to form a protective layer while it's healing. It may not be in the form of heavy scabs, but soaking a tattoo will loosen that protective layer and you'll watch your art and $$ go down the drain. Sun exposure should be kept to a minimum for at least 2 weeks or at least until the tattoo is fully healed. Sun can burn a fresh tattoo pretty quickly. The skin is open and exposed and most likely you'll have ointment or lotion on the tattoo which can actually help to 'fry' your tattoo. Not good. Keep it out of the sun. Once the tattoo is thoroughly healed you must use sunblock on the area. (Sunblock has chemicals in it that can do damage to a tattoo if it's applied before the tattoo is healed.) The lighter you keep your skin in this area, the brighter and bolder your colors (including black because it fades too) will stay. Tattoos sit below the pigment so the more you tan and the darker you get, the more it's like looking through a tinted window to see the tattoo. If you have colors in your tattoo such as white, yellow, pink and sometimes orange, you may not be able to see them as well. Over time, with repeated sun exposure, your tattoos will fade just like any printed material that's left out in the sun. So SUNBLOCK forever and ever amen! Most people worry about having a big pale blotch around their tattoos because of using sunblock. For smaller tattoos you can buy stickers with an interesting silhouette. Apply one over the tattoo each time you go tanning. It will keep the tattoo covered and make an interesting design from the tan around it. For larger tattoos, trace the outline the tattoo with high spf chapstick (they do make sunblock sticks for this) and then fill in the rest of the area with a strong sunblock. I recommend "Water Babies" to my clients. It's made to protect the most sensitive tissue in the world. It will definitely work on adults. I've also heard very good things about Bullfrog and Coppertone Sport. Do not confuse sunblock with tanning lotion. One blocks harmful UV rays, the other makes you look like a well-roasted Thanksgiving turkey. If you have sunburn, wait until it peels and goes away! It is usually more sensitive when going over sunburned spots. The skin is trying to heal from a burn, don't stick a needle in it! If you do get tattooed over sunburn as it peels it can take off most of a fresh tattoo. It's a waste of time and money and can be very frustrating to you and your artist. There's a reason that we say tans and tattoos don't mix. You either have really kick ass tattoos, or you have tattoos that have been ruined by sun exposure. Your tattoos are an investment. They have to last you a lifetime.


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