Sunscreens, as you’re about to discover, are an important part of your daily skincare routine, but there are some different problems that can come with wearing them for certain people. If you are worried about how your sunscreen may interfere and interact with you tattoo, here are the facts.
Why do I need to wear sunscreen?
Although sunscreen is mentioned very often in the media, many people don’t actually know how it works, what it does or why it’s so important. While this is something easily overlooked by many, as they don’t feel the need to know its importance, it’s actually useful, valuable information, and it will teach you that the single best thing you can possibly do for your skin is protect it from the Sun. In case you don’t know why you need to wear sunscreen, below are just some of the reasons you should be aware of.
Whenever you’re outside and the Sun is out, or you can at least see the natural light coming from it, that means that you’re exposing your skin to the harmful ultraviolet rays that it emits. These UV rays come in two different types: UVA and UVB, which can both come with their own problems that they cause. When you choose a sunscreen, it’s also important to ensure that it’s a ‘broad-spectrum’ sunscreen, which means that it protects against UVA rays as well as UVB rays.
Some of the most common and relevant benefits of and reasons for wearing sunscreen are listed below, and they should be enough to convince you to start using this holy grail product, if you don’t already:
- It prevents premature aging: UVA rays are long-wave radiation, and they’re known to be responsible for more of the long-term damage that can be caused by repeated sun exposure. One of their effects is the cause of premature aging, which is when your skin shows the typical signs of aging (such as fine lines, wrinkles and age spots) faster than it would naturally, as this process has been sped up by the Sun.
- You are at a lower risk of developing skin cancer: melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer that can develop, and your risks and chances of developing it in later life are heightened significantly each time you suffer sunburn, or almost do, as this cause cell DNA damage and even mutation, which can later cause this problem.
- You will find other treatments are more effective: many people will be disappointed to find that their skincare products don’t work as they had expected, and this can also be really frustrating, especially when you’ve spent your hard-earned money on these products. However, if your skin is suffering from sun damage, this may be holding back the effectiveness of other products and topical treatments, so keep your sun care a priority.
Is sunscreen bad for tattoos?
In some instances, sun protection can be a tricky subject, as there are no definitive guidelines or recommendations, which leaves us confused and unsure of what to do. Wearing sunscreen over your tattoo can be one of these potentially sticky areas, so it’s good to know what will and won’t cause damage to your tattoo, especially when they cost so much, and you’ll want to keep them pristine!
The first thing worth noting is that, if you’ve had your tattoo for a long time, and you know for certain that it’s completely healed and this has been the case for a while, the answer to this question is easy, and there’s nothing to worry about. You can wear sunscreen over a fully healed tattoo without the need to worry about any fading, damage, interference or any other problems. In fact, it’s important to protect your tattoos from the Sun if you want to make them last, but we’ll talk a little more about that later.
So, it’s an easy, definite answer if you know that there’s definitely no danger of your tattoos suffering from any interaction with your sunscreen, but what about that certain period of time when you’re a little unsure?
Unfortunately, as frustrating as it may be, applying sunscreen to a brand-new tattoo is a big no-no, despite that fact that you want to do everything you can to protect it from the Sun as much as possible. There are a few reasons for this, and it’s important that you follow this instruction if you’re interested at all in preserving your fresh ink.
If you hadn’t already realised, a tattoo is, essentially, an open wound, as you have had ink put into your skin using a needle, which makes really small piercings all over the surface of your skin. This means that the skin here is open, and both you and your tattoo are more susceptible to damage than otherwise. In sunscreens, there are lots of ingredients and chemicals present, and these can all do damage to your tattoo if you apply them before the wound has closed.
Not to mention, the chemicals involved in your sunscreen formula can also be potentially irritating to your skin, which could cause lots of irritation if they are applied on top of an open wound, like your fresh tattoo.
Does the Sun make tattoos fade?
Some pieces of information manage to make their way around the media and into people’s mind faster than others do, for some reason, and they can cause lots of questions to arise, especially when they’re out of context, as they cause us to start doubting things. As well as the terrible damage that the Sun can do to your skin and body, there are potential effects it can be responsible for in other circumstances, such as making things fade. Does the same thing apply to your tattoo?
In actual fact, the Sun can be responsible for making your tattoos fade, but the concept may be a little different to how you would imagine it. UV rays, as mentioned earlier, are emitted by the Sun whenever it’s out in the sky. When you are exposed to direct sunlight, your skin absorbs the ultraviolet rays, which is what enables them to cause so much damage, and this can also affect your tattoos.
The UV rays absorbed by your skin can get into your tattoos and, once they’re there, they basically break down the pigment that gives your tattoo its colour. Over time, this will happen repeatedly, and eventually cause you tattoo to fade away noticeably.
When can I put sunscreen on my new tattoo?
So, we’ve established the effects of the Sun on your tattoos, and we’ve also discovered that you can’t put a sunscreen on a tattoo immediately, but this obviously isn’t the case forever. You’ll be happy to hear that, eventually, you will be able to apply sunscreen to your tattoo, and this will enable you to stay protected whilst you also prevent any colour fade, interference or any irritation to your skin itself.
As we said earlier, the main reason why you can’t apply sunscreen to a new tattoo is because it’s an open wound, so it should make sense that, once this wound is no longer open to any foreign substances or potentially damaging chemicals to enter, then it should be safe to use a sunscreen. And, luckily, this is the case. However, the hardest part of this entire process is determining when exactly the tattoo has healed and making sure that you are definitely 100% safe to use a sunscreen – you don’t want to end up in an unfortunate situation involving faded pigments and irritation as a result of sunscreen use.
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For most tattoos, as long as there is no infection during the process of healing, the outer layer of skin where your tattoo is should take around 2-3 weeks to heal, as long as you keep up the aftercare. Once this time has passed and everything looks healthy and safe as it should do, you can start using your sunscreen straight away.
However, be aware that tattoos can also take up to 6 months for the entire area, including the lower layers of the skin, to heal, and while you don’t need to wait all this time, you do need to be sure that you’ve allowed adequate time for the outer skin to heal.
Before this time is up, make sure to cover up your tattoo when in the Sun, and just apply a sunscreen to the rest of your body. Avoid any sun exposure to it, if possible, as this can cause a fade and as well as sunburn, which leads to potential infection is your tattoo is not yet healed.
Once your tattoo has completely healed, there should be no problems with using sunscreen on the top of it. This will come with the general benefits of using a sunscreen on your skin, and it will also prevent any unnecessary fade of the pigments in your ink caused by the Sun, so you’re doing two things at once!