Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)
It’s that time of year when the temperature is rising and the coats are coming off. Soon it will be summer with all of the outdoor activities that come with it. If you have gotten tattooed by me, chances are you have been given the sunscreen speech. But if I failed to give you that speech for what ever reason at the time of the session (or if you haven’t been tattooed by me)…..here it is in full glory. Like a mother waving her finger “you better do what I say…or else!” But really, it’s for your own good! Really! Protect your investment and your artwork!
Everybody has seen the old guy with the forearm tattoo that is faded and blurred beyond recognition. ”See this part here? It used to be yellow! And the red is all but gone!” A lot has changed in tattooing since then. We have a far better quality of pigment available to us now along with advancements in techniques to apply the tattoo. But the tattoo will always age as your body ages. That is an undeniable truth. But one if the biggest contributors to the aging of the tattoo is the damaging effects on your skin from the sun (or tanning booth). UV rays are just like the lasers that remove tattoos, except they work over a period of time to break down the pigment.
After the skin has finished peeling (2-3 weeks) then you can start using sunscreen. Prior use will irritate the healing tattoo. It is an open wound and it will sting!
If you are going out into the sun for any period of time, including just driving/riding in the car, please, please put on at least SPF 30 as a daily maintenance. Use SPF 50 or higher for longer days. And if you go tanning or please put on as high a SPF as possible EVERY time.
If you have a new tattoo, you must wait around 6 weeks for it to be fully healed before you should even expose the tattoo directly to the sun. Prior to that the skin is still healing and will burn faster than the rest of your skin. I know it is not a perfect world and often the tattoo is in an exposed area, like the lower arm. If that is the case, do your best to keep it from getting the full blast of the sun. ex: Don’t hang your arm out the window while sitting in traffic on the Garden State Parkway…. you get the idea.
Neutrogena makes a whole line of sunscreens that are great for daily use (SPF 30) as well as longer lasting ones (SPF 100) for your outdoor adventure days.
As an example to the amazing powers of sunscreen, the photo below courtesy of Guy Aitchison, shows the same guy who spent a week in Puerto Rico. He used SPF 40 on his right arm and nothing on his left arm.