The Best Sunscreen for Tattoos: Because You Should Never, Ever, Ever Take a Fresh Tattoo Into the Sun Without Protection

Man with tattoos holds bottle of
Courtesy of Mad Rabbit
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When you’ve got a fresh tattoo, there is nothing more important than protecting it. Any tattoo connoisseur will tell you to avoid the sun entirely because UV rays can mess up, if not destroy, the ink. But if that’s not possible, you absolutely need the best sunscreen for tattoos.

We wanted a bit of advice from someone who works with tattoos for a living, so we called up Abi Dunajski of First Class Tattoo in New York City. She confirmed that sunlight, as well as swimming, can be terrible for tattoo maintenance.

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“If you don’t use sunscreen and go out in the sun for an extended period of time, white ink may turn yellow. If you have a new tattoo, you should not go swimming in any body of water or saunas because that can destroy the tattoo completely,” Dunajski said. She added that you should avoid the sun altogether for fresh tattoos.

Thankfully, there’s a silver lining if you must expose your tattoo to sunlight: The sunscreens themselves don’t pose any risk. Just make sure, if you do have to be outside, that you’re “constantly” applying sunscreen, Dunajski said, and she recommended using at least SPF 50 for the best results too.

Now that we know how important sunscreen is for tattoos, check out some of the best sunscreen for tattoos below because, as Dunajski said, “You pay a lot of money [for your tattoo] and just want it to last as long as possible.”

  

1. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100

BEST OVERALL

We asked Dunajski what brands she looks to for her own tattoos and she recommended Neutrogena. The Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion offers SPF 100 and is totally safe for tattoos. One reviewer on Amazon said, “I use this on all of my tattoos. It isn’t oily like other options and doesn’t dry my skin out. (I have very sensitive skin that dries out easily).“

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion; best sunscreen for tattoos Courtesy of Amazon

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100

$19.99

  

2. Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Daily Sunscreen

RUNNER-UP

Dunajski also pointed us toward Aveeno as a reliable sunscreen for tattoos. We like the Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Daily Sunscreen. It’s water-resistant and non-greasy and will offer plenty of protection with SPF 50. One reviewer said, “Got this for my new tattoo when in the tanning bed and it does a great job!”

Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Daily Sunscreen; best sunscreen for tattoos Courtesy of Amazon

Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Daily Sunscreen

$8.53

  

3. Mad Rabbit Defend Tattoo Sunscreen

MADE SPECIAL FOR TATTOOS

This isn’t merely sunscreen that also works to protect tattoos: This is Mad Rabbit Defend Tattoo Sunscreen, designed with tattoos top of my mind. Thanks to its SPF 30, this tattoo sunscreen blocks the UV rays that will wreck and degrade your ink, not to mention lead to sunburn. But it’s also chock-full of moisturizing ingredients, such as vitamin E and chamomile, to soothe and restore damaged skin. Fragrance-free and available as a subscription (which also discounts the price), the Mad Rabbit Defend Tattoo Sunscreen won’t let you down. One reviewer on Amazon even went swimming outside in the sun with the sunscreen on and said it “was completely effective, no sun damage to my new tattoo.”

Sure, we’d like to see more SPF protection, but SPF 30 is still much better than SPF 0.

Read More: The Best Tattoo Soaps

Mad Rabbit Defend Tattoo Sunscreen SPF 30; best sunscreen for tattoos Courtesy of Mad Rabbit

Mad Rabbit Defend Tattoo Sunscreen

$29.99

  

4. INK Tattoo Sunscreen SPF 50+ Stick

BEST STICK SUNSCREEN

The best sunscreen for tattoos is the one that you’ll actually use. Nothing is easier to use than the INK Tattoo Sunscreen SPF 50+ Stick. Just throw this water-resistant sunscreen in a back pocket or go bag to ensure you always have the protection you need. Plus, it goes on clear and uses antioxidants like vitamin E to moisturize damaged skin too.

One reviewer never leaves home without it, saying, “If I’m going to be in the sun, I always have this with me. It goes on clear, which is the best part, so it doesn’t take away from the look of the tattoo.”

INK Tattoo Sunscreen SPF 50 Stick; best sunscreen for tattoos Courtesy of Amazon

INK Tattoo Sunscreen SPF 50+ Stick

$26.95

  

5. INK Tattoo Brightener Sunscreen Spray

BEST SPRAY SUNSCREEN

Leave it to INK Tattoo to not only develop the best stick sunscreen for tattoos but the best spray sunscreen for tattoos, too.

The INK Tattoo Brightener Sunscreen Spray is water-resistant, boasts SPF 50, goes on clear and even and dries nicely. What more could you ask for to try to protect your beloved tats?

INK Tattoo Brightener Sunscreen Spray with SPF 50; best sunscreen for tattoos Courtesy of Amazon

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$22.95

  

6. Tattoo Care Sun Protection Sunscreen

AMAZON’S CHOICE

The “Amazon’s Choice” banner marks only the best, most popular, most reliable products on Amazon. It’s not perfect because it’s algorithmic, but it’s pretty good when it comes to mainstream products. In this case, we like Amazon’s Choice for “sunscreen for tattoos,” the Tattoo Care Sun Protection Sunscreen. Though we wish it had more than SPF 30, it still delivers plenty of protection from UV rays and fading and promises to soothe skin with cocoa butter, jojoba and vitamins A and E. You could even use this in a tanning bed.

Tattoo Care Sun Protection Sunscreen Courtesy of Amazon

Tattoo Care Sun Protection Sunscreen

$14.99

  

7. Devoted Creations Tattoo Fade Protection Stick with SPF 50+

TRAVEL FRIENDLY

The Devoted Creations Tattoo Fade Protection Stick with SPF 50+ may be tiny, but it is mighty. It’s water-resistant, non-greasy and made with shea butter to go on smooth and moisturize your tattooed skin while protecting it from UV rays. If you’re strapped for cash, this runs on the cheaper side due to its small, portable size and will get the job done until you can buy something more long-lasting. But hey, at least you have no excuse not to tuck this sunscreen into your pocket before heading outdoors.

Devoted Creations Tattoo Fade Protection Stick with SPF 50 Courtesy of Amazon

Devoted Creations Tattoo Fade Protection Stick with SPF 50+

$5.49

  

8. Inkeeze Tattoo Sunscreen Ink Shield

ARTIST-OWNED

Nobody knows better than tattoo artists what’s going to damage ink. That’s why we trust the artist-owned Inkeeze Tattoo Sunscreen Ink Shield. With SPF 50, a convenient spray bottle and ink-safe ingredients, this sunscreen will protect your tattoos and support actual tattoo artists too.

Inkeeze Tattoo Sunscreen Ink Shield Courtesy of Amazon

Inkeeze Tattoo Sunscreen Ink Shield

$15.00

  

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