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Best sunscreen for tattoo protection

Sunscreen for tattoos is a specially formulated sunscreen that protects the tattooed area from sun damage and fading.

Since the skin of a tattooed area is different than regular skin, it needs protection. If you choose to go without sunscreen tattoo protection, it can take years off your tattoos by causing them to fade and discolor. There's no turning back once they're faded - you'll be left with poorly defined or completely blurred-out designs.

Moreover, sunlight can bring out colors that the artist didn't intend to be visible. You want to keep this coloring as rich as possible for as long as you can so purchase the best sunscreen for tattoos specifically designed for this purpose.

Now when you know the importance of such a product, let's look at some of your options.

Updated September 27, 2021
Best Sunscreen for Tattoo Protection.

TOP 7 Sunscreens for Tattoo Protection

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Sunscreen
Best Overall

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Sunscreen Milk Body & Face is fragrance-free, ultra-lightweight sunscreen milk with Cell-Ox Shield Technology that provides broad-spectrum SPF 60 UVA/UVB protection. It's formulated to be water-resistant 80 minutes and non-greasy, fast-absorbing texture. Thus, it melts into the skin leaving it soft, comfortable and protected all day long. Suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin and ideal for the face and body. It leaves no residue behind and is paraben-free.

This non-comedogenic formula contains the solar filter system Mexoplex, an exclusive active ingredient complex that helps to protect the skin from sun damage and signs of aging. Formulated with patented MELI OPLEX, a patented peptide technology aids in the prevention of broad-spectrum UVA/UVB damage. It also contains the antioxidant Mexoryl SX, which is an advanced sunscreen filter that provides advanced protection from UVA rays.

Antioxidant Protection: Cell-Ox Shield technology, a patented combination of two powerful antioxidants, protects skin from oxidative stress caused by UV rays.

Oxybenzone Free: The sunscreen does not contain oxybenzone, which may be an endocrine disruptor that can affect your hormones.

Pros
  • Can be used on the face or body
  • Formulated with Cell-Ox Shield Technology
  • Broad-spectrum UVA/UVB prevention
  • Oxybenzone Free
  • Quick absorption, leaving no white cast or greasy feeling on your skin
  • For all skin types
  • Water-resistant up to 80 minutes
Cons

Inkeez Ink Shield Sunscreen Spray SPF 50
Designed for Tattoo Protection

Inkeez Ink Shield Sunscreen Spray SPF 50 is a vegan, coconut-scented sunscreen spray that provides UVA and UVB protection. It is designed to be used on tattoos and skin art while out in the sun. The product has been tested by dermatologists and tattoo artists to ensure it does not interfere with the ink or alter the look of your tattoo.

The special ingredient in this product is called Ink Barrier Technology (IBT). IBT was created after years of research into how tattoos fade when exposed to sunlight. IBT helps protect your tattoos from sun damage, fading, and migrating into surrounding healthy tissue by creating a protective barrier. The ingredients that make up the formula are FDA approved, so you can be sure it's safe for you and your skin. As long as you're where full-spectrum sunscreen, IBT will keep your tattoo looking fresh and vibrant.

Pros
  • Designed to be used on tattoos
  • Vegan
  • Affordable price
  • Coconut-scented spray
  • Provides UVA and UVB protection
  • It does not interfere with the ink or alters the look of your tattoo
  • Feels light on the skin
  • Made in the USA
  • Dries fast
Cons
  • It runs out quickly

EltaMD UV Sport Broad-Spectrum SPF 50
Best Water Resistance

The EltaMD brand was developed by dermatologists to provide patients with high-quality skincare products that are both safe and effective for daily use at home.

EltaMD UV Sport Broad-Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion is a mineral-based sunscreen that provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays and which is great for use while enjoying outdoor activities. This water-resistant formula features zinc oxide as the active ingredient for effective sun protection and is non-greasy, odorless, and unscented.

The formula also contains antioxidants to help protect the skin from free radical damage. This sunscreen lotion is ideal for use while enjoying all outdoor activities.

Dermatologist-recommended sunscreen lotion is fragrance-free, oil-free, and PABA-free.

Available in a 3 and 7 oz. size.

Pros
  • Best for outdoor activities
  • Non-greasy, odorless, and unscented
  • Antioxidant properties
  • Fragrance-free, oil-free, and PABA-free
  • Available in different sizes
  • Dermatologist-recommended
  • No white cast at all
  • Water-Resistant
Cons
  • Price is above average

Suntegrity Natural Mineral Body Sunscreen SPF 30
Good Sunscreen for Tattoos

The Suntegrity Natural Mineral Body Sunscreen SPF 30 is a highly effective, chemical-free sunscreen that provides broad-spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays. Made with 20% non-nano zinc oxide, this mineral-based sunscreen is free of parabens, phthalates, and mineral oil and does not contain any nano ingredients. The Suntegrity Natural Mineral Body Sunscreen offers superior sun protection while maintaining a lightweight feel on your skin.

The mineral sunscreen is fragrance-free, cruelty-free, vegan, and made with organic ingredients. It is also water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. Available in 3 sizes and 15 shades, this natural sunscreen has been dermatologist tested and approved.

The downside of this sunscreen is that it may be too heavy for everyday use. And it's not recommended for anyone with a history of eczema.

Whether you're heading to the beach or just going for a walk in the sun, stay protected from UV rays with one of these best sunscreens for tattoos.

Pros
  • Free of parabens, phthalates, and mineral oils
  • Does not contain any nano ingredients
  • Fragrance-free
  • Cruelty-free
  • Dermatologist tested and approved
  • Water-resistant for up to 80 minutes
  • Vegan
  • Available in 3 sizes
Cons
  • It may be too heavy for everyday use

CannaSmack Ink Guard SPF 30
Best Sunscreen for Color Tattoos

CannaSmack Ink Guard SPF 30 Tattoo Sunscreen is a premium quality, 100% natural, non-greasy, hypoallergenic, and water-resistant sunscreen that will protect your tattoos from fading in the sun.

Infused with premium hemp seed oil which is rich in Omega-3, Omega-6, Vitamin A, B, D & E providing much-needed hydration and nourishment to your skin that will help protect your color tattoos.

Although this stick only protects against UVB radiation, its formula is specifically designed to protect your tattoos from fading. Carry it with you when you go outdoors and your tattoos will be bright and vibrant for years to come. Non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic, not tested on animals. Highly moisturizing, it has a light, unobtrusive smell, but nothing strong.

Protect your tattoos from fading in the sun with a unique photostable UVB water-resistant formula. Great for micro-bladed eyebrows and small precise application.

Pros
  • Highly usable for travel and everyday use
  • Designed especially for tattoos protection from fading
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Hypoallergenic, not tested on animals
  • Vitamin-enriched formula
  • Highly moisturizing
  • For all skin types
  • Water-resistant
Cons
  • Small stick size
  • No UVA protection

Sun Bum Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion
Best for Sensitive Skin

Sun Bum is a mineral-based sunscreen with an SPF of 50+. The mineral-based physical sunblock uses zinc oxide as its active ingredient providing the highest level of protection available against both UVA and UVB rays. It's free from chemical absorbers and moisturizes your skin. The Sun Bum Mineral Lotion is hypoallergenic, gluten and cruelty-free, and good for sensitive and tattooed skin. Application is easy and applies smoothly. It has a non-greasy feel, doesn't clog pores, and can leave a white tint which is normal because this lotion, instead of being absorbed, stays on the surface of your skin. It is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

The lotion has a slightly pleasant smell, but this may interfere if you want to use it daily, including for work and other important matters.

Pros
  • 100% mineral-based
  • Best for sensitive skin
  • Hypoallergenic, gluten and cruelty-free
  • Water-resistant
  • Moisturizes your skin good
  • Applies smoothly
Cons
  • Can leave a white tint
  • A slightly smell

Shiseido UV Clear Stick Protector SPF 50
Sunscreen Stick for Tattoos

Shiseido UV Clear Stick Protector SPF 50 is a handy sunscreen that can be used on the go. It's easy to apply, and it absorbs into the skin with no white residue. The convenient shape of this sunscreen makes it ideal for carrying in a purse or pocket, while the invisible, lightweight formula absorbs quickly without any residue for comfortable wear.

It protects your skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays and becomes even more effective in water. WetForce x HeatForce Technology combines two powerful forms of sun protection—a physical barrier with zinc oxide and a chemical barrier with octinoxate — to shield skin from UVA/UV. Can be worn over and under makeup. For all skin types. Water-resistant 80 minutes.

Pros
  • Convenient shape of a stick
  • Highly usable for travel
  • Absorbs quickly without any residue for comfortable wear
  • WetForce x HeatForce Technology
  • Can be worn over and under makeup
  • For all skin types
  • Water-resistant 80 minutes
Cons
  • Some people find it a little greasy
  • It runs out quickly

How to Choose Tattoo Sunscreen?

How to choose tattoo sunscreen?

Before you can choose the best sunscreen for tattoos, you have to know what kind of protection you need. There are two types of tattoo sunscreens:

  1. Physical sunscreen (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) - also known as mineral sunscreen. It protects by deflecting the UV rays not absorbing them, like a mirror reflecting light off its surface.
  2. Chemical sunscreen (absorbs UV rays) - also known as 'chemical block' or simply chemical sunscreen. It absorbs UV rays to prevent sun damage and skin cancer. Photostable ingredients provide long-lasting protection. Chemical blockers are water-resistant (not waterproof) for 40 minutes or 80 minutes, but they may also stain your clothes if you sweat heavily or go swimming.
  3. Combination (chemical and physical sunscreen) - made up of both kinds of filters.

Most tattoo artists will recommend titanium dioxide sunscreen for tattoos. It's safe to use on colored tattoos and it provides the best pigment retention. While they do have UV filters, most sunscreens are not recommended for tattoos because they contain fragrances that can alter your tattoo's color or fade it quicker. However, it has poor water resistance. If you're going to be out in the sun for a long period of time or if you're going in the water, then chemical sunscreens are your best option. Chemical blockers provide better protection against UVA rays (which cause aging) and UVB rays (which cause burning). However, many artists will recommend you go with a combination sunscreen because it provides the best protection against both kinds of rays.

What to Look for in Sunscreen Tattoo Protection

What to Look for in Sunscreen Tattoo Protection?

Many sunscreens do not protect you from both UVB rays (burning) and UVA rays (aging). However, many sunscreen manufacturers mix different ingredients to obtain this. To protect your tattoos properly, look for these best sunscreen ingredients for tattoos when shopping around:

  • Titanium dioxide (6-10%) - which provides the best pigment retention.
  • Zinc oxide (10-25%) - prevents discoloration, skin damage, and skin cancer caused by UVB rays.
  • Ensulizole (4%) - reduces inflammation to prevent fading.
  • Octinoxate (7.5%) - protects from both kinds of rays by absorbing UVB rays.
  • Oxybenzone (5%) - prevents skin cancer and tissue damage.
  • Octisalate (5%) - absorbs UVB rays to prevent sunburns.

Other Choice Criteria

Generally, sunscreens are rated on how long they protect your tattoo and skin against UV rays. Sunscreens do not last forever. The best sunscreens for tattoos will protect your skin from the sun for a period of at least 3-4 hours.

Water-resistance – the length of time that the sunscreen remains effective after being in contact with either water or sweat. If you're sweating heavily, then it's important to know if the bottle says 'water resistant' because while one will protect you up to 80 minutes, the other is only front 40 minutes and can easily be wiped off with wetness.

You should also think about how you plan to use the product. Is it going to be during a long beach day? Then they should provide water resistance for 40 minutes or 80 minutes in the water, which is typically long enough to enjoy a dip in the pool or sea. Remember, there is no 100% protection against UV rays and you can always get sunscreen during an outing in the sun.

SPF – the sun protection factor measures the length of time you can be exposed to UV rays before burning. For example, a sunscreen with SPF 30 means that it will take you 30 times longer than normal to burn without any sunscreen at all. It is important to note that these numbers are not straightforward and may vary depending on your skin type and color.

You should always use a minimum SPF of 30 while trying to protect your tattoos. No matter what kind of sunscreen you decide to go with, make sure that it's at least SPF 30 and contains both UVA and UVB filters.

Non-comedogenic sunscreen doesn't clog pores. It can lead to breakouts or cause the ink to spread across the skin.

It also needs to be PABA-free as these can cause skin irritation.

Fragrance-free - perfume can be irritating to your skin which could lead to breakouts or the ink spreading across the skin.

Using Sunscreen on Tattooed Skin

When applying sunscreen on the tattooed area, make sure that you rub it in evenly to absorb the right amount into your skin. It shouldn't leave white spots all over your tattoos. Make sure you cover every bit of ink on your body (so any other parts that may be exposed). Sunscreen for tattoos should be applied about every four hours. It is important to reapply it after swimming or getting wet, as well as when you sweat excessively (usually at least once an hour).

The best sunscreen for new tattoos is no sunscreen at all. You shouldn't use sunscreen on new or just healing tattoos, as this could stop the tattoo from healing normally.

Another thing to consider is sunscreen sprays. These are easy to apply on tattoos without getting your hands greasy but they may not be the best option. The sprays are not as effective as the lotions with the same sunscreen ingredients.

Many sunscreens can leave a white residue that will clog your pores or change the look of your tattoos. It also needs to feel good against the skin, so check how it feels on your skin before purchasing.

What Sunscreen Tattoo Protection Doesn't Have

  1. One thing sunscreen tattoo protection doesn't have is retinol. Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that protects against oxidative stress and free radical damage. It also helps heal the skin in a way that's similar to how a sunburn does. If you're using sunscreen with retinol it may cause irritation to the skin that could potentially harm your tattoo.
  2. Another thing it doesn't have is vitamin C because this can change the color of the pigment in your tattoos.
  3. Finally, sunscreen protection for tattoos doesn't have antibacterial or antifungal properties. Sunscreen tattoo protection should not replace other methods that prevent infection.
  4. UV rays can still damage your skin and tattoo. Sunscreen won't block all of them, but it will slow the process down.

What type of sunscreen is best for tattoos – cream, oil, or spray?

Sunscreens are usually either cream, oil, or spray. It is important to use the best sunscreen for your needs so you don't cause any type of harm to your tattoo. Cream sunscreens are the most common and the best option for protecting tattoos because they're less likely to irritate the skin. Oil sunscreens can clog pores which can lead to breakouts or ink spread. They also tend to leave the skin feeling greasy. Spray sunscreens can be harder to control and you might not get the coverage you need. Out of these, sunscreen creams are the best choice for tattoo skin and ink.

Verdict

There are many different sunscreens on the market today and it can be difficult to choose the best sunscreen for protecting your tattoos. Since you can't simply pick a sunscreen and go, it is helpful to think about the features you want in your sunscreen. Remember that SPF is important and so are UVA and UVB filters. You should also look for sunscreens that are water-resistant, free of fragrance, non-comedogenic, PABA-free, oil-free, and lightweight.

You'll want one that's safe and effective on tattooed skin without expensive, unnecessary features. According to this research, some of the best sunscreens for tattoos include La Roche-Posay, Inkeez Ink Shield, and EltaMD.

These are all great options for tattoo protection so make sure you read their ingredients to ensure there is all you need and don't need and buy it!