It’s July 1st and I couldn’t think of a more appropriate topic than summer tattoo care!
We often neglect our beautiful (and expensive) pieces of art because we just want that summer glow! Unfortunately that bronze comes at a cost..
At one point in my life, tanning was practically my religion. I didn’t care about the risk of developing skin cancer or the fact that I was slowly destroying my tattoos.. I just HAD to be tan! I thought I was doing a good job at keeping sunscreen on my tattoos, but it still broke down the pigment, causing my color and line work to fade and in some areas, disappear completely. I’ve since had to have all of my tattoos from my ‘pre-pale’ days completely reworked since their quality had degraded so much.
When you’re tanning the top layer of skin it makes it much harder to see through to the tattoo underneath, making your design look muted and murky. The sun also prematurely ages the skin, causing wrinkling, brown spots, and the texture of an old leathery boot. Do you really want your $5,000 sleeve looking like a worn out piece of leather? On top of you paying AGAIN to have your tattoos reworked, you’re walking a risky line being tattooed AND a sun worshipper. If cancerous moles form under a tattoo they’re much harder to detect when you can’t clearly see your skin through the design.
At this point you might feel like you have to adapt the lifestyle of a vampire in order to keep your artwork looking fresh, but we all still need a bit of sunshine every now and then. My advice is to invest in a high quality sunblock that provides an SPF of 30 or higher. A favorite of mine so far was developed by tattoo artist, Scott Irwin. Body Armor is a natural and organic sunblock, which is wonderful for those that are trying to eliminate using chemical filled lotions and sunscreen.
We’re not just talking about tanning beds and the beach though.. Even just driving in your car you can overexpose your shoulders and arms to too much sun. If it looks like it’s going to be a clear sunny day, apply sunblock and bring a small travel sized bottle with you to reapply for long car rides. Also try to keep a thick blanket or hoodie in your car to drape over your arm or any exposed skin during your drive. This will help filter out some of those rays when you’re in a pinch without sunscreen!
One last tip.. never put sunblock on a new tattoo. Follow your artist’s aftercare instructions and keep your tattoo covered by thick clothing and/or avoiding the sun until it’s healed.
Most of this is common sense, but if you’re just now starting your tattoo journey you may not know the long term effects that sun exposure has on your work. Follow these tips and you’ll keep your artwork looking fresh for much longer!