Can You Put Sunscreen on a New Tattoo?

Can You Put Sunscreen on a New Tattoo
Credit: Kheila Cruz

Any skincare enthusiast knows to apply SPF daily on the face and when out in the sun, to protect the body as well. But should you put sunscreen on a new tattoo as it’s healing? And if not immediately how soon? Dr. Joshua Zeichner says that immediately after getting a tattoo you should apply an occlusive, protective ointment over the skin to enhance wound healing. “The tattoo itself should be physically protected from the sun by clothing or bandages,” he says. After the skin fully heals after a week or two, and once there is no open or raw skin, he adds that you should religiously apply sunscreen. Zeichner recommends mineral blocker sunscreens for freshly tattooed skin, since the skin is sensitive.  “Zinc oxide both protects the skin from UV light and forms a protective barrier, which explains why zinc oxide is also used as a diaper cream for babies,” he adds.

Dr. Ellen Marmur adds that UV rays and especially sunburn can permanently fade the colors of tattoo ink making them dull. She recommends an SPF of at least 30 for maximum sun protection. “You also want to use a sunscreen that offers broad spectrum protection, meaning it protects against UVA and UVB rays,” she adds. Here are some dermatologist-approved sunscreens to try at a range of prices, per Zeichner, Marmur, and Dr. Mona Gohara.

Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive SPF 50

A perhaps unusual choice for grownups, Zeichner likes this drugstore gem ($19, for those of all ages because it’s so gentle on skin. Besides zinc oxide, this sunscreen contains colloidal oatmeal to hydrate and protect the skin.

Supergoop Glow Stick

Gohara loves this easy-to-apply product ($25; because you can put it on directly with very deliberate strokes. “The antioxidant infused in helps to protect against fading from UV light,” she says. Toss this one in your purse to touch up your skin protection throughout the day.

Neutrogena Sheer Zinc SPF 50

Both Marmur and Zeichner are fans of this wallet-friendly SPF ($13; Zeichner notes that this sunscreen contains only zinc oxide and can be used for those with sensitive skin. This one is also good for those with eczema.

Colorescience Sunforgettable Powder

The ease of reapplication of a powder can’t be matched. Gohara likes this one by Colorescience ($65; as well, and says to brush this on every two hours. It’s super easy and “the sheer tone helps keeps the tattoo color intact,” she says.  

La Roche Posay Anthelios Mineral Zinc Oxide Sunscreen SPF 50

Zeichner recommends this sunscreen ($34; because “it uses mineral blockers to prevent UV damage along with thermal spring water to reduce skin inflammation,” he says.

SuperGoop Everyday Sunscreen SPF 50

Marmur likes this original formula from Supergoop ($10-48, Water-resistant and designed for everyday use on the face and body, this formula is packed with extracts of citrus, basi, and bois de rose for an aromatherapeutic experience while imparting hydration. Bonus: You can buy a gigunda container of it so you’ll always have it on-hand.

Shiseido Clear Stick UV Protector WetForce Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50+

Gohara again likes this one by Shiseido ($28; for its distinct lack of mess. “This clear formula protects radiant tattoo colors and is great for those with skin of color,” she says. “Traditional lotion and cream formulations often leave the tattoo dull because of a gray or white residue.”

ELTA MD PURE SPF 47 Water-Resistant

Elta makes a tinted version of this as well, but in the interest of maintaining your tat’s vibrancy, it’s best to slather on a bit of this clear SPF ($25; Marmur is a fan of this non-comedogenic and waterproof physical sunscreen for face and body. Its lightweight feel and oil-free moisture keep skin in good condition as it protects from the sun.

BeautyCounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Stick

Are you noticing a trend? Yet another one in the stick category. When it comes to sunscreen, there are no excuses as no days off. Marmur recommends this water-resistant one ($21; that are infused with natural ingredients like cocoa butter for a hydrating effect. Formulated with non-nano zinc oxide, the stick boasts organic coconut oil and shea butter.

Related: The Best Soaps for New Tattoos, According to Experts

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