Inked skin has its own set of needs, and the
best sunscreen for tattoos — according to everyone from medical professionals to Reddit — is one with high SPF that you’ll actually reapply. Whether that’s getting a tattoo-specific formula so you’re more motivated to put it on or an easy-to-use stick you can reapply on the go, consistency is what counts.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends starting with
broad spectrum SPF 30 at a minimum. There are two main types of sunscreens: physical and chemical. Physical sunscreens include mineral ingredients, like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, that are considered safer for humans and reefs, but chemical sunscreens are typically easier to spread and less likely to leave a white residue. Since both are effective at keeping your tattoo protected from harmul UV rays, you’ll find both types here.
Then, think about what type of application will be most convenient for you to use
every single day. Is that a spray you can mist on a hard-to-reach piece? What about a stick that’s easy to toss in your bag and reapply? Or do you prefer a classic lotion with a non-greasy finish you know won’t feel make you feel too beachy? No matter which one feels right for you, they key is to wear it regularly to prevent the sun from degrading your tat.
can’t apply any sunscreen to new and healing tattoos, you’ll need to keep your ink physically covered for the first few weeks. A lightweight shirt or pants with UPF will net you a lot of use in the first month after you get tattooed, and is also just a nice additional layer of protection to have on-hand after the fact, which is why I've included a wearable top with UFP 50+ below as well.
From tattoo sunscreen sticks and kits to the best all-purpose sunscreens you won’t mind using liberally, these five products are the next step to protect your tattoos after they’ve healed.
We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.
A Hypoallergenic Sunscreen Stick With Zinc Oxide And Oat
gentle mineral sunscreen features a broad-spectrum SPF 50 in an easy-to-apply stick that won't leak in your bag, so it's ideal for carrying with you. (One shopper mentioned theirs survived being kept in a car in Florida.) The fragrance-free, dye-free, paraben-free formula is hypoallergenic and relies on 100% zinc oxide to shield your skin, with oat essence for nourishment. "The sunscreen stick has a consistency of deodarant. After running it over your body, it needs to be rubbed in, or it leaves a very visible white residue. It doesn't feel overly greasy or shiny like the typical sunscreen. I love how compact it is," a reviewer commented. Plus, the handy stick provides water- and sweat-resistant sun protection for up to 80 minutes. It's also available as a cream.
An Oil-Free Sunscreen With SPF 100+ That Doesn’t Feel Tacky
dermatologist-recommended sunscreen is renowned for its lightweight feel that belies the heavy-duty sun protection. The oil-free formula is non-greasy and won't your clog pores — you can even use it on your face. The chemical sunscreen offers water-resistant, broad spectrum SPF 100 for up to 80 minutes of coverage. It has a 4.7 rating on Amazon from over 4,000 reviewers, who praised it for being effective protection that didn't feel sticky, heavy, or cause breakouts. One shopper, who included a powerful photo of her non-sunburned tattoo, but otherwise sunburned back, noted, "I wanted a sunscreen that would protect my tattoos from fading or getting sun damage. I applied this onto my tattoo and used a lower SPF and different brand for the rest of my shoulders. This stuff WORKS!"
A Tattoo Sunscreen Stick With Hemp Oil For A Silky Application
tattoo sunscreen stick has a chemical-based broad-spectrum SPF 30 that is loaded with omega-rich hemp seed oil (it's THC- and CBD-free), calming aloe, and skin barrier-protecting beeswax. It's free of dyes, fragrance, and gluten, and is Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free. It offers up to 40 minutes of water-resistant and sweat-resistant wear with each application. "Don't think my tattoo has looked this good since I got it!" one fan raved, adding, "It's also super easy to apply – I just carry it in my purse or backpack and can throw it on in a matter of seconds with absolutely no mess." Another shopper noted, "I will definitely reorder and keep using this to keep my colors bright." Several shoppers especially liked this for protecting microbladed brows, as well.
This Spray-On Sunscreen That Targets Hard-To-Reach Areas
spray-on sunscreen packs broad-spectrum SPF 50 in a lightweight aerosol that makes it easy to reach every last inch and apply fast touch-ups when you're on the go. "It works really well and the spray feature is great for getting those hard to reach back sections," one shopper with tattoos commented. The gluten-free chemical sunscreen formula is biodegradable and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, and comes recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. Also on the ingredient list: nourishing avocado oil and vitamin E combined with natural extracts, including lemon and peppermint oils, ginseng, soothing chamomile, and aloe vera.
You can also choose from four different formulas, including the Cool Sport one featured here. There is also one for
sensitive skin and another with beachy coconut.
This Aftercare Kit With Sunscreen That Has Everything You Need For New Tattoos
The makers of the original
tattoo aftercare balm packaged everything you need for fresh ink in one kit— including a tattoo-enhancing sunscreen with SPF 30 and olive oil to make your art look nourished and vibrant. (It's not listed whether it's a chemical or mineral formula, however.) Also included is a travel-sized tin of their cult-hit salve, an aftercare lotion that prevents scabbing, and an antibacterial soap to keep new tattoos and piercings extra-clean. "Use sparingly because a little goes a long way," one shopper wrote of the sunscreen. Another noted, "the sunscreen really helps preserve the color too."
Also Nice: A Lightweight T-Shirt With Sun Protection
tee with UPF 50 is able block 98% of ultraviolet rays and gives fresh tattoos much-needed coverage for the first few weeks while they heal. The moisture-wicking polyester weave of this shirt keeps you cool and dry, and it comes in three different cuts if you don't need a full sleeve. This tee is also sewn with flat seams, which minimize chafing, so it's more likely to feel bearable on new tattoos. "I have tattoos on my arms so like to keep them covered up when I'm working out outside. Lightweight and washes great," one reviewer noted. Available colors: 18 Available sizes: Small – 22W