Summer is upon us and as we collectively hit the beach (or lake or pool) for some much needed fun in the sun, take a moment to make sure you are not screwing over your tattoos. For us tattooed folks, summer can be an opportunity to show off our ink while having some fun, but taking care of your tattoos during the summer months can be tricky if you are unprepared. The number one rule of keeping your tattoos looking great for the long haul is "cover, cover, cover"! If you are going to have bare limbs, you NEED to use sunscreen... and not some wimpy SPF 15 either. You need vampire-strength suncreen - preferably SPF 50, but definitely at least SPF 30 - AND you have to use it correctly, which means reapplying every four hours or after getting wet. I know - a drag, right? But so is watching your awesome tattoo fade, feather, and bleed from too much sun exposure over time.
Sun is the #1 enemy of tattoos. The more sun exposure your tattoo gets, the worse it will look over time. It is somewhat ironic that the desire (for some) to show off their tattoos during the warmer weather will ultimately result in those tattoos looking like something you might want to keep hidden down the road, but there you have it. If you are going to show your ink, slather it in sunscreen every time.
What about new tattoos and the sun? Those are two things that do NOT belong together, like fish and peanut butter. Summer is a lousy time to get a tattoo for the very reasons that make summer so much fun - lots of sunshine, less clothing, sweating, sand, water exposure - all of which are very bad for new tattoos.
If you get tattooed during the summer (guilty!), then you need to take your aftercare very seriously. First and foremost, do NOT head to the beach, pool, or lake without protecting your new tattoo. If you are still wrapped, then cover the area with lighweight, loose, 100% cotton clothing - period. Stay out of the sun as best you can and definitely stay out of the water. You will also want to avoid getting dirty or sweaty. Dirt, sweat, sand, sun, water - all of these can possibly lead to infection. Keeping your fresh tattoo clean and covered should be your #1 priority.
If you are still healing but no longer wrapped, use Tattoo Goo's sunscreen (not all sunscreens can be used on healing tattoos - Tattoo Goo can) and still try to keep it covered with loose clothing. Sunbathing is a no. Swimming or water sports are a no. Tackle football or serious athletic activity is a no. Sand is a no. If that all sounds like a major buzz kill, try getting an infection on your healing tattoo that ruins your new ink at least or sends you to the hospital at worst. Healing tattoos are no joke. You wouldn't head out for a day of beach volleyball if you had just been injured in an accident and had a huge area of road rash, would you? Healing tattoos are wounds, plain and simple. Treat them with care and caution and they will be a source of pride and joy for years to come. Treat them poorly and you may end up paying a high price for that afternoon in the sun.