Beauty Trends

Best Sunscreen for Tattoos to Protect & Prevent Fading

Like it or not, you need to be using sunscreen to protect yourself from the harmful effects of UV rays. That especially applies to you if you have tattoos — that is unless you want those very expensive and painful art pieces to fade prematurely. 

“[Tattoo ink] is a foreign substance, and UV and light exposure can cause changes in our skin’s immune cells that can lead to a seek-and-destroy mission on the tattoo pigment,” explains San Diego-based dermatologist Melanie Palm. “Alteration of the skin’s immune response and surveillance, along with a direct effect of UV on the tattoo pigment itself, leads to fading of color and pigment breakdown.”

Does that mean there’s a type of sunscreen that works best on tattoos? As far as the level of SPF and the amount of sunscreen required goes, tattooed folks should ultimately be taking the exact same precautions as everyone else. “The recommendations are the same as for normal skin,” says New York City-based dermatologist Elyse Love. “Apply at least an SPF 30 15 minutes before sun exposure; it should be reapplied with every two hours of prolonged sun exposure.”

But if you’ve got tattoos, you definitely want to be looking for mineral or physical sunscreens rather than chemical ones — they protect you from the sun as well as blue light, Connecticut-based dermatologist Mona Gohara points out.

Just remember that none of this advice matters if you don’t actually wear the sunscreen — that’s why it’s best to stick to ones that don’t leave a cast and that you can apply quickly. Because, as Love says: “After a tattoo has healed, the best sunscreen is the sunscreen that will be used consistently.”

With all this expert advice in mind, we’ve rounded up the nine best sunscreens for tattoos below.

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