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How to Protect Your Tattoos From the Sun: Sunscreen, Tape and Sleeves

Posted on October 04 2016

By J.R. Duren –

Good luck finding a definitive answer to the age-old question, “How do I protect my tattoo from the sun?”

If you google the question, you’ll be hit with thousands of DIY tricks, makeups and other solutions that aren’t always the best (or safe). We, of course, would opt for a high-quality sleeve any day of the week, but not everyone wants a sleeve. We get that.

protect your tattoos from the sun
So, we compiled a list of some of the more popular ways you can protect your tattoos from the sun:

  • Sunscreen
  • Tape
  • Sleeves

In each section we’ll cover the method, talk about its pros and cons as well as its effectiveness in protecting your tattoos from the sun.

Sunscreen: Covering Up the Old Fashioned Way

Of all the solutions we’ve read about, sunscreen is definitely the most old-school of all of them. The directions here are pretty simple. Find a sunscreen that’s at least 30 SPF, then apply liberally to make sure your tattoo doesn’t feel the damaging effects of the sun. If you are new to sunscreen, there are chances you have sunspots. But don’t worry! You can use some advanced serums like Polyphenol Dark Spot Diminisher to get rid of them. Apply the serum when you sleep and remember to use sunscreen during the day.

Experts are pretty united on the 30 SPF requirement, but most people you talk to will have their own go-to brand they prefer:

  • Ink Done Right prefers H2Ocean Sea Life SPF 45: “H2O is arguably the best brand for taking care of your skin. This sunscreen is designed to protect both you and your tattoo and can be used on your entire body.”
  • Inked Magazine recommends H2Ocean Sea Life, too: “You pay a lot for a quality tattoo, so treat I like the fine piece of art that it is and make it last!”

We were curious about how accurate these recommendations were, so we checked out what other people were saying about H2Ocean. The sunscreen’s Amazon page has 44 reviews and an average score of 4.5 out of 5 stars. More than 70% of the people who reviewed it gave it 4 or 5 stars, which is a great sign this product lives up to the hype.

Tattoo Skin Sun Protection

One recent reviewer said they’d recommend H2Ocean Sea Life to “anyone looking to protect their ink investment.” Even though the jar looks small, you don’t need to use a lot to protect your ink, and according to several people, you don’t have to constantly re-apply.

One of the downsides to sunscreen is that you won’t always have someone around to help you apply it in hard to reach places. Also, you’ll have to do some research and testing to figure out which sunscreen works best for your skin type. H2Ocean is a great option, but for some users it might not be a good fit. The intense heat of the sun may also cause you to tan if you are incapable of applying sunscreen evenly over your entire body. For this reason, you may want to look into Dr. David Jack skin peels (or any other similar product) to remove the upper skin so you can reveal the fresh, youthful skin underneath.

Taping Over Your Tattoos

What do you do if your tattoo is in a tough-to-reach place and you want to head to the beach alone? Ask a stranger to put some sunscreen over your investment? Probably not a good idea considering where your tattoo is.

In this situation, tape can be a great way to protect your tattoo from the sun.

Piercing and tattoo site Painful Pleasures did a great breakdown on why tape is a good option for protecting a tattoo, but, like lots of website who talk about using tape to cover up, they don’t really talk about how tape is a good option for sun protection.

There are plenty of sites who sell tattoo tape; ours is one of the most popular. We’ve seen the use of tape grow in popularity over the past couple of years, so we made some upgrades to our product that help it cling to your skin in a variety of conditions.

Like we said earlier, sunscreen is a great option but doesn’t necessarily get those hard to reach places. Tape is a great alternative to sunscreen for hikes, barbecues and other outdoor events, but the big downside is the beach.

It goes without saying that, no matter how strong your tape is, water will eventually wear down its adhesiveness.

Protecting Your Tattoos With Sleeves

The final option you have for protecting your tattoos from the sun is the sleeve. This happens to be our favorite choice of the three, and for good reason.

Tattoo Sun Protection Sleeves

Ink Armor sleeves provide a huge advantage over sunscreen. The fabric we’ve chosen for our sleeves blocks 98% of the harmful UV rays that can wreak havoc on your tattoos. Unlike most sunscreens, you don’t have to worry about reapplying every 30 minutes, nor do you have to deal with oily or sticky residue.

Another advantage: They work great in water and air dry really quickly, which we think is the perfect combination for the beach.

And since our sleeves are 80% nylon and 20% spandex, they’re really breathable and won’t give your skin that sticky feeling you get when you’re covered in sunscreen.

There are other options out there, but we think we’ve put together the right combination of high-quality fabric and materials to make Ink Armor a great option for protecting your tattoos from the sun.

About the Author: J.R. Duren has written for numerous online publications and is a regular contributor to the Tat2X Blog.