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Can You Put Sunscreen on a New Tattoo?

Sunscreen and tattoos are two things that might not seem related at first glance. But for health-conscious outdoor enthusiasts, understanding the relationship between the two is crucial.

This article dives deep into the world of sunscreens, focusing on the best choices for your new tattoo and why.


Quick History of Tattoos

Tattoos have been a part of human culture for thousands of years. From ancient tribal markings to modern artistic expressions, tattoos have always been a way for individuals to express themselves, their beliefs, or their affiliations.

Over time, the methods and inks have evolved, but the essence remains the same: a permanent mark on the skin that tells a story.

Recently, tattoos have surged in popularity, becoming more mainstream and accepted. With this rise comes the need for proper new tattoo care, especially regarding sun exposure.


How to Care for a New Tattoo and When to Call a Doctor

A new tattoo is essentially an open wound. It is crucial to keep it clean, moisturized, and protected from external factors, including the sun.

Direct sunlight can fade the ink and prolong the healing process. But knowing which is safe for your tattoo is essential before reaching for any sunscreen.

If your tattoo becomes excessively red or swollen, emits a foul odor, or has a discharge, it might be infected. In such cases, it's essential to consult a doctor immediately.


What Does Chemical Sunscreen Do to a New Tattoo?

Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the sun's UV rays. However, the chemicals can irritate a new tattoo, leading to prolonged healing or discoloration.

Ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate, commonly found in chemical sunscreens, can be harmful not only to your skin but also to the environment.


Hazards of Chemical Sunscreen on a New Tattoo

Chemical sunscreens, often labeled as "organic" in the scientific community, absorb the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. Once absorbed, these dangerous sunscreens transform the UV rays into heat released from the skin.

This mechanism is primarily facilitated by organic (carbon-based) compounds, such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octocrylene, and octinoxate.

For a fresh tattoo, the application of chemical sunscreens can pose several challenges:

Irritation and Allergic Reactions
The active ingredients in chemical sunscreens can irritate, especially on sensitive or freshly inked skin. A new tattoo is essentially an open wound; introducing these chemicals can lead to redness, itching, and even swelling. Some individuals might also experience allergic reactions, manifesting as hives or blisters.

Ink Discoloration and Fading
Chemical sunscreens can interact with the tattoo ink, leading to potential discoloration. The heat generated from converting UV rays can also affect the tattoo's healing process, causing the colors to fade prematurely.

Penetration into the Skin
Unlike mineral sunscreens on the skin's surface, chemical sunscreens can penetrate deeper layers. This can be concerning for a new tattoo as the chemicals might interfere with the ink, affecting its longevity and appearance.

Environmental Concerns
Beyond the immediate effects on the tattoo, ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate are linked to coral reef bleaching. When these chemicals wash off the skin during swimming or bathing, they can enter water systems and harm aquatic life.

In conclusion, while chemical sunscreens might effectively protect against sunburn, they might not be the best choice for new tattoos. It's essential to understand the potential risks and opt for a sunscreen that ensures both your tattoo's longevity and your skin's health.


What Does Mineral Sunscreen Do to a New Tattoo?

Mineral sunscreens, especially those with non-nano zinc oxide, act as a physical barrier, reflecting the sun's rays. They sit on the skin's surface, protecting it without penetrating or affecting the tattoo ink.

Zinc oxide sunscreens make an excellent sunscreen for tattoos.


Benefits of Mineral Sunscreen on a New Tattoo

Mineral sunscreens, predominantly those containing non-nano zinc oxide, have gained popularity for their skin-friendly and environmentally-conscious properties. When it comes to new tattoos, these sunscreens offer a myriad of benefits that ensure both the health of your skin and the vibrancy of your tattoo.

Immediate Protection
Unlike chemical sunscreens that require about 20 minutes to become effective, mineral sunscreens start working the moment they're applied. This immediate shield is crucial for a new tattoo, especially if you're in a sunny environment.

Broad-Spectrum Coverage
Non-nano zinc oxide sunscreens protect against both UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) rays. This broad-spectrum protection ensures that your tattoo remains vibrant and doesn't suffer from premature fading due to sun exposure.

Gentle on Sensitive Skin
New tattoos can be sensitive; the last thing you want is to irritate them with harsh chemicals. Mineral sunscreens are known for their hypoallergenic properties, making them suitable for all skin types, including sensitive and freshly inked areas.

Environmentally Friendly
Mineral sunscreens, especially those with non-nano particles, don't harm marine life or contribute to coral reef bleaching. For the environmentally-conscious individual, this is a significant benefit, ensuring that while you protect your skin, you're also doing your part for the planet.

Moisturizing Properties
Many mineral sunscreens come infused with moisturizing ingredients like coconut oil or shea butter. These ingredients not only protect the skin from the sun but also keep the tattooed area hydrated, promoting faster healing and maintaining the vibrancy of the tattoo ink.

In conclusion, mineral sunscreens, particularly those with non-nano zinc oxide, offer a holistic approach to sun protection for new tattoos. They shield the tattoo from harmful UV rays and nurture the skin, ensuring that your tattoo remains as vibrant as the day you got it.


Frequently Asked Tattoo Sunscreen Questions

Q: Can I use sunscreen on my new tattoo?
A: It's best to use mineral sunscreens for new tattoos, especially those with non-nano zinc oxide.

Q: How soon can I expose my tattoo to the sun?
A: It's best to keep a new tattoo out of direct sunlight for at least 2-3 weeks.

Q: Why is protecting a new tattoo from the sun essential?
A: Sun exposure can cause a new tattoo to fade prematurely and can prolong the healing process. UV rays can break down the tattoo ink, leading to discoloration.

Q: Are there specific ingredients I should avoid in sunscreens for my new tattoo?
A: Yes, avoid sunscreens with oxybenzone, octinoxate, and other chemical filters. Instead, opt for mineral-based sunscreens for tattoos with non-nano zinc oxide.

Q: How often should I reapply sunscreen on my tattoo when outdoors?
A: It's recommended to reapply sunscreen every two hours or immediately after swimming, sweating, or towel drying.

Q: Can I use tanning oils or lotions on my new tattoo?
A: It's best to avoid tanning oils or lotions on a new tattoo, as they can irritate the skin and affect the tattoo's healing process.

Q: Is it safe to go swimming with a new tattoo?
A: It's advisable to wait 2-3 weeks before swimming to prevent bacterial infections and ensure the tattoo heals properly. When you do swim, ensure you apply waterproof sunscreen.

Q: Do tattoos with color fade faster in the sun than black ink tattoos?
A: Colored tattoos, significantly lighter shades, can be more susceptible to fading from sun exposure compared to black ink tattoos. Protecting all tattoos, regardless of color, from the sun is crucial.

Q: How long does it take for a tattoo to heal fully?
A: While the outer layer of skin might heal in about 2-3 weeks, the deeper layers can take up to 4-6 months to fully heal. Proper tattoo aftercare, including sun protection, is essential during this period.

Q: Why is non-nano zinc oxide recommended?
A: It offers broad-spectrum protection, is safe for sensitive skin, and doesn't harm the environment.



Not all sunscreens are created equal when protecting your new tattoo from the sun. Non-nano zinc oxide sunscreens, like Waxhead Sunscreen, are the best choice for your skin and the planet. Always read the ingredients and make informed choices, especially regarding skincare products for your loved ones.





1. Know your ingredients — Flip over your sunscreen and read the ingredients. We want everyone to know what good ingredients are, regardless of whether they use our products or not. Your health is worth it.

2. Buy safe sunscreen — Waxhead is dedicated to using only the healthiest, safest, most effective ingredients in our sunscreens. Shop Safe Sunscreen here.

3. Teach a friend — If you know someone who might still be buying sunscreen with questionable ingredients, please share this post with him/her.





Can You Put Sunscreen on a New Tattoo?

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