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Can you put sunscreen on a new tattoo?

Tattoos are such a fun way to express yourself. They can represent a loved one, be your favorite quote, or just be something you want to look at everyday because – let’s be honest – tattoos are BEAUTIFUL! Tattoos tell a unique story on your skin, so it is important to keep them looking like they did the day you got them. 

What kind of damage can the sun cause? 

Let’s start off by getting into what kind of damage the sun can do to your skin. It is important to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. To make it easy to remember the difference, we like to say: UVA=Aging and UVB=Burning.  

UVB rays are responsible for sunburn and all the not-so-fun stuff that comes along with it like blistering and itchiness. But getting just a few bad sunburns in your life significantly increases your risk of getting skin cancer. UVB rays are also much stronger during the summer months, although you still can get sunburn during the winter.  

UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin causing wrinkles and uneven pigmentation. Keep in mind that UVA rays penetrate through glass and are equally as strong all year long, so UVA rays are just as strong in January as in July! They are also responsible for causing skin cancer. 

What damage can the sun do to your tattoos? 

Well, tattoo ink is held in the dermis, which is the second layer of skin, just under the epidermis. Like we said, UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and cause damage right where your tattoo ink is. Sun damage on tattoos can cause the ink to break down and since UV damage is cumulative, after time the lines will become splotchy and blurred. Additionally, UVA rays can cause your tattooed skin to sag and wrinkle – we know, not cute.

UVB rays, on the other hand, can be particularly troublesome, especially for new tattoos. Fresh tattoos that are still in the healing process are just like an open wound and can get severely damaged if they are exposed to direct sunlight. According to Healthline, new tattoos that get sunburned may take longer to heal. They might even itch and blister. As you probably already know, you’re not supposed to scratch, touch, or peel your new tattoo to begin with, but compound that with a nasty sunburn and you’re asking for your fresh ink to be pulled out before it has a chance to heal beautifully.

With that being said, you are not out of the woods if your tattoo is fully healed. UVB rays can cause lasting damage to older tattoos and may even change their appearance over time. The risk is that your lines can become undefined or start to blur, and the ink yes, even with black and grey tattoos – may become discolored.

Can you put sunscreen on a new tattoo? 

You actually don’t want to put sunscreen on a tattoo that is still healing. Your artist will give you instructions on the best products to use during this healing process. Instead, you’re going to want to limit your time in the sun for at least a week after getting your fresh ink. It does make it a little easier since you’re also not supposed to be swimming or soaking the new tattoo in water at all until it’s fully healed. But after – and only AFTER – your tattoo is fully healed, sunscreen is the best option for keeping your ink looking fresh. 

Make sure to consult with your tattoo artist on when you can start applying sunscreen to your fresh tattoo! 

What is the best sunscreen for tattoos? 

When choosing the best sunscreen for tattoos – and the rest of your skin – first make sure that it is broad spectrum and has an SPF of 30 or higher. This is a general rule of thumb for all sunscreen use, as broad-spectrum sunscreen indicates that it protects against both UVB and UVA rays and SPF 30 or higher is going to provide the best UVB protection for your skin.  

We also recommend using mineral sunscreen for your tattoos. Mineral sunscreens work by creating a physical barrier between the sun and your skin to reflect UVB and UVA rays away from your skin. Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, work by absorbing the UVA and UVB rays into your skin and converting them to heat. Mineral sunscreens are also known for being gentle on the skin, so you don’t have to worry about any skin irritation. 

Finally, you’re probably going to want to use sunscreen that moisturizes your tattoos. If you’ve ever applied lotion to a tattoo, you’ve probably noticed how much bolder and brighter it looks.  

What are the best CōTZ sunscreens for tattoos? 

CōTZ Sensitive SPF 40

We recommend CōTZ Sensitive SPF 40, as it has a moisturizing formula that blends beautifully on any skin tone and on skin with tattoos. The dewy finish will leave your tattoo looking bright, bold, and glowing. Plus, it was formulated for sensitive skin so no need to worry about irritation.


CōTZ Mineral Sun Stick SPF 45

We also recommend keeping CōTZ Mineral Sun Stick SPF 45 around for easy on-the-go reapplication. This tinted mineral sunscreen stick is the perfect sunscreen companion as it will fit comfortably into your bag, backpack, or FannyPack for easy access. It glides on invisibly to a sheer, glowy finish. It’s perfect for touch-ups, particularly on tattoos.


Additional tips for protecting your tattoos 

Reapply your sunscreen at least every 2 hours, and more often when you’re swimming or sweating. 

Wear clothing that protects your skin against UVA/UVB rays. 

Avoid direct sunlight as much as possible between the hours of 10am and 2pm, when the sun is at its highest point and is most powerful. 


When people say tattoos are an investment, they’re not wrong. It is so important to take the steps to properly care for your tattoos, so you can enjoy them for a lifetime. Is all this tattoo talk making anyone else want to schedule their next appointment? Don’t forget to tag us when you use CōTZ Mineral SPF on all your beautiful pieces!

Comments (1)

  • Thomas Clarence on November 15, 2022

    It never would have occurred to me that you should avoid placing sunscreen on a tattoo that is still healing. A friend of mine is wanting to get a tattoo soon, and as far as I know, he is going to go going on vacation shortly after that. I will have to tell my friend that he will need to avoid sunscreen on his trip so that his tattoo can heal properly.

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