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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.
“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
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, SPF 100
2. Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Daily Sunscreen
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!”
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
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.”
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?
6. Tattoo Care Sun Protection Sunscreen
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.
7. Devoted Creations Tattoo Fade Protection Stick with SPF 50+
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.
8. Inkeeze Tattoo Sunscreen Ink Shield
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.