Tattoos fade—a reality for those who love their ink. 

Still, the dulling and spreading should be a long process, taking place over the course of years, managed with:

  • Simple but diligent care
  • Common sense
  • Occasional touch up maintenance by your artist

Too many people fail to properly care for their new tattoos during the crucial first weeks, and harsh summer weather increases the damage to your fresh ink if you slack on the aftercare process. 

Here are some important things you need to know about caring for your new tattoo this summer to keep it looking great.

Stay Out of the Sun—Priority One

Don’t expose your tattoo to harsh, direct sunlight at all in the first 10-14 days if you can possibly help it.

Stay in the shade, cover it with clothing, and plan the timing of your tattoo sessions to avoid getting work done immediately before outdoor events you don’t want to miss.

While showing off your new ink is tempting, throwing on a bikini and heading to the pool right after completion is a really bad idea. 

When it comes to the sun, common sense is your best friend.

A Common Mistake—Clothes Don’t Necessarily Mean Covered

People often feel safe if their tattoo is in a discrete location or covered by clothing. 

Covered means safe, right?

Not always. 

If your tattoo is new, it’s extremely vulnerable to UV rays, which cause scarring, blurring, and fading.

You need to go the extra mile, starting with understanding that the UV protection capability of clothing varies. 

A thin, white, cotton T-shirt covering a new back or shoulder tattoo may not be enough protection. Most of the UV rays shine right through thin fabric.

Since the heat makes thicker clothing an uncomfortable option you’d probably like to avoid, consider these additional measures:

  • Liberally apply sunscreen, even under clothing 
  • Thoroughly cover your tattoo with a bandage beneath thin fabric

Either of these options can help increase the chances your tattoo gets the protection it needs.

If you’re wearing thin, loose clothing, it’s hard to control when the harsh direct rays are bleeding through, or when movement is causing your tattoo to make repeated brief appearances into direct summer sunlight, adding up to significant exposure over time.

Sunblock Is Your Best Friend

Once your tattoo is healed and the soreness and scabbing have subsided (generally 10-14 days after you get it), you need to apply an SPF30 or higher sunblock liberally to the entire tattooed area every time you go out during the summer.

Every time.

If you will be spending more than 2-3 hours in direct summer sunlight, like at the park, the lake, an amusement park, or at a ballgame, you need to reapply sunscreen every few hours.

This is a good idea for new, fragile tattoos, and also a good habit to establish for the entire life of your ink. 

Keeping your tattoo beautiful and free from summer damage requires some effort.

Follow the Aftercare Directions—It’s Up to You

Proper healing is a must.

Follow your artists specific aftercare instructions so that you clear the highly-vulnerable period as soon as possible, without scarring and fading.

It’s highly recommended that you go the extra mile to care for your new tattoo, particularly in the harsh summer months.

At the end of the day, how you choose to care for your body and the ink you’ve invested in is your decision. 

Make sure you’re clear on the instructions on how to care for your new tattoo before you leave the shop. Ask any follow-up questions you have, and remember that fancy tattoo healing or aftercare products are not substitutes for diligent care.

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