Can You Put Sunblock On A New Tattoo?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on July 19, 2017
    Last Updated: December 31, 2020

Most people know that the sun can be extremely harmful to all tattoos no matter how new or old they are. However, many are still unsure about the effects that sunscreen may also have on a new tattoo, and what problems they may cause during the tattoo healing process.

Should You Put Sun Lotion On A New Tattoo?

No, you shouldn’t. While a tattoo is healing, the area doesn’t tolerate products that usually don’t irritate normal skin.

Applying sunscreen to a new tattoo can cause several issues that could possibly prolong healing times, and can even cause long-term damage to the appearance of your ink.

Below are the main reasons why it’s generally discouraged to apply sunscreen to a new tattoo:

Harsh Chemicals

Many commercial sunscreens often contain chemicals in them which can be very harsh to sensitive areas of skin (such as new tattoos).

These chemicals can cause redness, irritation, rashesitching, and if applied too often on a new tattoo, they can also cause areas of ink to fade/lose color.

Artificial Colors & Scents

Lots of over the counter sun protection products contain artificial colors and scents to create a more visual and sensual appeal.

However, many new tattoos can be extremely sensitive to these artificial additives, and even artificial ingredients in soaps and lotions have the ability to cause irritation to a new tattoo.


When a new tattoo is healing, it requires as much fresh air (oxygen) as possible in order to regenerate efficiently.

The problem with putting sunscreen on a new tattoo is that the lotion is generally thick and non-absorbent. This means it usually ends up sitting on top of the skin, thus creating a barrier that blocks out the required oxygen.

Another issue is that if the sunblock is smothered on extremely generously and creates a very thick layer over the skin, this layer creates a warm and humid environment between itself and the skin, and this is the perfect environment for bacteria and germs to thrive and multiply, increasing the risk of infection.


Suncream tends to be quite sticky – it tends to pick up and hold onto grit and dirt for hours after initially applying it.

Because of the greater chance of getting bits of grit and sand etc. stuck against your new tattoo, you are increasing the risk of these little objects getting lodged into the wound, causing potential cuts & grazes, and even infections.

So What Should I Do To Protect My New Tattoo In The Sun?

As mentioned – new tattoos are very sensitive to most things, with the sun obviously being one of them.

New tattoos are so sensitive to the sun in fact, that it’s best to just keep them completely out of strong, direct sunlight until the area has completely healed.

Although this may be a hindrance, especially if you’re going on holiday or you have a day at the beach planned; you must think about the ink on your body that you’ve just paid lots of money for, and which you were most-likely waiting a long time for.

Our advice would be to keep the tattoo out of direct sunlight for at least 2-3 weeks, or until it looks completely visually healed.

If you must go out, try to keep within shaded areas or keep the tattoo covered by dark clothing (lighter clothing is generally less capable of keeping out harmful UV rays from the sun) and wear a rashguard when in the water.

Can I Put Sunscreen On My Tattoo After It Has Healed?

Certainly; and it is completely recommended. The sun is your tattoo’s worst enemy, and prolonged sun exposure can massively increase the rate in which your tattoo begins to discolor and fade.

The sun can do a lot of damage to your tattoo over the years

You should always aim to apply a layer of sun cream to your tattoo each and every time you plan to go out into strong daylight.

You should preferably choose a cream/lotion that is at least SPF 30 that is chemical-free and only contains zinc oxide. There are higher SPF products available but the further benefits of an SPF higher than 30 are negligible.

You should also try to ensure the product is water-resistant, moisturizing, and kind to sensitive skin to make sure your tattoo remains in the best condition possible for the longest amount of time.  If you want to seriously protect your tattoo, clothing will work better than sunscreen 100% of the time.

My favorite and most recommended sunscreen for using on tattoos is EltaMD UV Sport Sunscreen Lotion.

This broad-spectrum sunscreen has all of the attributes required for not only protecting your tattoo amazingly well, but also for helping to keep it bright and vibrant. It’s suitably strong at SPF 50 and is water and sweat-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

Most importantly, EltaMD is extremely tattoo-friendly and doesn’t contain any fragrances, oils, or parabens.


While a strong and good quality sunscreen is definitely helpful at keeping a tattoo protected against the sun, it is not advisable to use any until the tattoo is completely healed. Therefore, you should try to keep your new tattoo away from direct sunlight for at least 2-3 weeks.

However, you should definitely apply sunscreen on a tattoo that has already fully healed and continue to protect the artwork from harmful UV rays with clothing and sun avoidance.  Do this each and every time that you’ll be going out in strong, direct sunlight to keep your tattoo looking good for the long haul.