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How Long After a Tattoo Can You Tan?

How Long After a Tattoo Can You Tan?

Everyone makes sacrifices for beauty. A toasty tan takes time, effort, and a little money to make perfect. Tanning beds and lotion add up and hurt your wallet over time. However, tattoos take even more monetary investment! Plus, they look awesome. However, how does tanning affect a healing tattoo? Along with that, how do you balance a healing tattoo with your need to tan? This little tattoo tanning F.A.Q. answers all your questions involving tattoo healing. For more in-depth information on the tattoo healing process, our ultimate tattoo care and aftercare guide provides all the answers. In the meantime, this article serves as the ultimate guide for tanning with a new tattoo!

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Product NameStrengthWhere to get it
H2Ocean Sea Life SunscreenSPF 45
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Coppertone Tattoo GuardSPF 50


How Long After a Tattoo Can you Tan in a Tanning Bed?

You might find yourself wondering, ‘how long after getting a tattoo can I fake tan?’ The tanning bed after a tattoo creates some interesting problems. UV rays—the same type of light responsible for tanning your skin—also do significant damage to your tattoo ink. This applies even more while your tattoo heals. Without a protective layer of skin, light reaches the ink directly and starts to break it down. During the first stage of healing, stay far away from fake tans and real sunlight alike.

Beauty visual about suntan. Model’s face divided in two parts – tanned and blanc.


Once your second stage of healing begins, a little precaution goes a long way towards protecting your tattoo. Use fabric with sunscreen on top of it to shield your tattoo while tanning. Yes, it feels weird to apply sunscreen to clothing, but very little clothing keeps out UV rays properly. You may also cut out the fabric in the shape of your tattoo if you want to tan around it.


For the third stage of tattoo healing, feel free to use tattoo safe sunscreen and tanning lotion. Keep in mind that during all stages of tattoo healing, your ink remains sensitive to light. On top of that, tanning technically toasts your skin to that dark color, which diverts resources from healing your tattoo to healing all of your skin. I recommend waiting until at least the third stage of healing until you start tanning again.

For an elaborate breakdown of tattoo aftercare—and how to recognize the signs of healing stages—check out our full article on the subject.


Can you put Sunscreen on a New Tattoo?

When can I put sunscreen on a new tattoo? Sunscreen on new tattoos stings a little bit, and for good reason. During the first three days of healing, fresh tattoos constitute an open wound. Although they need sunscreen more than any other place of your body, putting sunscreen directly on it proves toxic. However, once that wound closes and starts to peel or scab, sunscreen works fine! It helps to learn the different stages of your tattoo. Check this page to see which healing stage matches yours! Stage two works for sun tan lotion and sun block, but I recommend waiting until stage three.


How Long After Getting a Tattoo can I Go in the Sun?

Beyond tanning, UV rays pose a risk from any sort of light source. How long after a tattoo you go swimming also depends on your healing stage, since water enhances the rate at which your skin burns. On top of that, water contains all sorts of germs that pose a risk of infection for your new tattoo. You can expose your tattoo to the sun as early as stage two, but I recommend waiting until stage three. This equates to four to six weeks, depending on the extent of your tattoo. But even after your tattoo healed completely, you should always protect it with a tattoo sunscreen.

Other risks for your tattoo include dirty gym equipment, direct water from faucets, scrubbing of recently tattooed skin, and unclean clothes. Working out, losing weight, and gaining weight also stretch out your tattoo in adverse ways. Try to stick to a healthy weight before and after your tattoo! We compile every hazard and risk in the full tattoo healing guide.


How Long After a Tattoo Can You Tan

In the end, tanning after a tattoo carries a whole set of risks…ones that can be avoided simply by taking precautions! Covering your tattoo or using tattoo-safe sunscreen and suntan lotion helps protect your tattoo. Especially with pigment tattoos, colors fade quickly without proper protection during the tanning process. Hopefully this little tattoo tanning Q&A provided you with some crucial information. For a full run down of the aftercare process—including how to speed up your healing—check out our ultimate tattoo care and tattoo aftercare guide! Until next time, may your tattoo always shine!


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