You'd have to be a literal alien not to know about how the sun can damage human skin. But, is the sun bad for tattoos? Does your inked skin function the same way when exposed to the sun for prolonged periods? Will the sun eventually burn away your tattoo? These might be a couple of questions burning a whole in your mind when it comes to tattoos and the sun.
Of course, not all inks are created equal. According to fellow Bustler Kristin Collins Jackson, white ink on tan skin may not end well, “...even the the highest SPF may not protect the light coloring leaving your white tattoo looking completely transparent way faster than bold colors like blacks and blues.” So if you’ve jumped on the white ink wagon, you best keep your tatt in the dark this summer.
Well, what about other hues? Bustler Carolyn Steber discussed things that can ruin your ink, one of which is not protecting it with sunblock. Steber said, “...direct sunlight can lead to fading, which is a real good way to ruin your tattoo. So once it's healed, get in the habit of slathering on the sunblock every time you go outside.” So is the sun seriously bad for tattoos? I spoke to a couple of experts to find out for myself.
Adal Ray of Majestic Tattoo NYC says, "The sun's UV rays will fade any pigment on the planet, including tattoo ink." This doesn't bode well for inked sun worshippers this summer. However, Ray explains, "But generally, a well-applied tattoo can withstand several good sunburns in a lifetime." So if you've got a good quality tatt, there's no need to panic if you do forget your sunscreen on a rare occasion, because your tattoo won't disappear after one sunburn; unless it's a white ink tattoo, because their longevity seems super unpredictable.
That being said, if you're someone who spends a lot of time outdoors in the sunshine, your ink could age faster. Josh Egnew of Electric Anvil Tattoo tells me, "Heavy sun exposure will speed up the aging process of the tattoo." Egnew explains, "Sun is the enemy, either cover your tattoos or wear sunscreen anytime you will be out for an extended period of time in the sun."
So if you want your ink to look its best for longer, either avoid exposing your tattoos to direct sunlight or protect them with sunscreen, because at the end of the day, nobody wants their cherished body art to fade away.
Image: Getty Images (3)