A lot goes into getting a good tattoo. There’s the endless hours of searching Pinterest boards for inspiration. Weeks, maybe even months, finding the right artist. Not to mention the waiting list to actually get your backside on the chair. So once you’ve taken the needle to the skin, you’re going to want to show it off, right?
Right. Which is why it’s seriously important to know where to get the best sunscreen for tattoos. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been freshly inked or you’ve had your tat for years, protecting your prized skin art (especially in the sun) is a non-negotiable.
To help you choose the right tattoo lotions, I’ve picked out a variety of suitable sunscreens for every kind of tattoo. Continue reading for my go-to recommendations for keeping your skin and ink protected (no matter the size) while you have some fun with the yellow guy in the sky.
If you listened to your mom, you’ll already know the importance of sunscreen (it provides a protective layer against harmful UV rays, btw). But did you know it can also help slow the fading process of your tattoos?
Whether a spray, lotion, or stick floats your boat, I’m going to be taking you through the best sunscreen for tattoos—covering a selection of price points, SPF levels, and more. You’ll find options from Cetaphil and Neutrogena, as well as top tips on what you should be looking out for on the labels.
Apart from the obvious risk of skin cancer and premature aging, the sun can also wreak serious havoc on our ink. So, unless you’re happy with your tattoo(s) fading, you’re going to want to add one of the best sunscreens for tattoos into your routine.
This one from Cetaphil is perfectly sized to pop inside your bag, especially while on city breaks or trips to the beach. With an SPF of 50, it offers ultimate protection that blends quickly without leaving that annoying white cast or greasy residue. The nourishing formula features vitamin E and skin conditioners, so it’ll lock in moisture and hydrate—preventing dry skin and allowing your tattoos to flourish.
SPF: 50 | Cruelty-Free: No | Water Resistant: Yes | Skin Type: All| Special Feature: Vitamin E
Looking after your skin and the artwork that’s sketched onto it doesn’t have to leave your bank account empty. Thanks to an abundance of affordable sunscreens on offer, there are plenty of wallet-friendly ways to stay safe in the sun.
Blue Lizard’s SPF 50 formula comes in stick form. It glides on and rubs in clear (just like your favorite roll-on deodorant) while letting your tattoo breathe and preventing clogged pores. Fragrance-free and water-resistant, it’ll stay on for up to 80 minutes—gently nourishing your skin in the process.
SPF: 50 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Water Resistant: Yes | Skin Type: All| Special Feature: Non-comedogenic
It’s important to lay your sunscreen on thick, but this can prove a little problematic if you’re sunbathing solo. Rubbing in cream can be a logistical nightmare when you’re alone, so you’re going to need something that doesn’t need so much graft.
Beauty by Earth’s spray-on sunscreen takes away all the hard work, allowing you to apply a generous amount that sits on top of your skin to block UV rays and keep your tats protected. Lightweight and silky, it offers SPF 30 and gives off a beautiful whiff of peppermint and vanilla (ideal if you work up a sweat).
SPF: 30 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Water Resistant: Yes | Skin Type: All| Special Feature: Easy spray
Kari Kenner was (and is) just like any mom: conscious of her children being safe in the sun. But after doing some research, she found that most of the big sunscreen brands relied on toxic ingredients. These were not only harmful to her kids but marine life too. Why am I telling you this?
She’s now made her very own sunscreen stick that’s all-natural and made from 25% non-nano zinc oxide. It’s perfect for sensitive skin and acts as the perfect protector for your tattoos. To apply, you simply push up from bottom and dot sunscreen onto skin. You’re then left with the perfect amount to spread and rub.
SPF: 30 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Water Resistant: Yes | Skin Type: All| Special Feature: All Natural Ingredients
Ask any skin expert, and they’ll tell you that applying sunscreen is one of the most important parts of your daily routine. Whatever the weather, you should be putting a little on your face each morning for ultimate UV protection (not to mention helping you look younger for longer).
This one from CeraVe is a brilliant everyday sunscreen that will also stop your tats from fading when it’s time to take off your tee. Formulated with three essential ceramides, the formula will stop you from burning while restoring and maintaining the skin’s natural barrier. It’s oil-free, fragrance-free, and suitable for sensitive skin
SPF: 50 | Cruelty-Free: No | Water Resistant: Yes | Skin Type: All | Special Feature: Essential Ceramides
If you’re anything like me, you’ll find that the worst thing about sunscreen is the white cast it leaves after you’ve applied a little too much. Which is especially annoying if it covers up that chest piece that hurt like hell. Luckily, Amazon has a heap of spray options that will keep you safe but won’t hide your favorite ink.
Lightweight and quick-drying, Alba Botanica’s SPF 50 sunscreen spray is made with 100% vegetarian ingredients, including aloe vera, camomile, and avocado oil. It’ll offer protection even when you’re in the water, but you’ll need to put on some more after around 80 minutes.
SPF: 50 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Water Resistant: Yes | Skin Type: All | Special Feature: Fragrance Free
Whether you’re doing research after getting freshly inked or you googled ‘what is the best sunscreen for tattoos’ in preparation for your next vacation, this guide has plenty of options for you to consider. But if you’re looking for the one that everybody loves, this next pick should be at the top of your wish list.
Given a five-star rating by over 7,000 customers on Amazon, EltaMD’s sport lotion is guaranteed to be a smart investment. It’s been made with an active lifestyle in mind, so it’s ideal for tattooed guys that like to exercise outdoors. Better yet, it’s water-resistant—so it won’t drip into your eyes as you pound the pavement (or sand).
SPF: 50 | Cruelty-Free: Unknown | Water Resistant: Yes | Skin Type: All | Special Feature: Water & Sweat-resistant
Slathering on sunblock is a mucky business. And it’s not exactly ideal when you’re on the move. But thanks to sunscreen sticks, you can easily top up your protection while keeping your tattoos safe from the sun’s blazing wrath.
Thinkbaby’s version is actually marketed for kids, however, the mineral-based formula is great for all ages (especially as it’s designed for baby-soft skin). It’ll fit perfectly into your pocket or bag and can be whipped out whenever it’s needed. You don’t have to worry about stickiness, as this tattoo sunscreen absorbs super quickly, and you won’t even know it’s there.
SPF: 30 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Water Resistant: Yes | Skin Type: All | Special Feature: Travel Size
If your skin is on the sensitive side, I’d like to firstly give you a pat on the back for getting inked in the first place. I’m impressed (even if you used numbing cream). Secondly, you’re going to need to be a little more careful when it comes to choosing the best sunscreen for tattoos.
Sensitive skin can suffer from redness or irritation caused by certain formulas and fragrances. But this fragrance and oil-free lotion from Neutrogena is designed to avoid such problems. Made with 100% naturally-sourced ingredients, it provides gentle sun protection while fighting against skin aging and dreaded tattoo fading.
SPF: 60 | Cruelty-Free: No | Water Resistant: Yes | Skin Type: All | Special Feature: High SPF
It’s not only pale redheads that should wear high SPF. Maximum sunscreen protection is actually recommended for all skin types that want to stay safe as they catch some rays. That includes you with the Jersey Shore tan.
Thinksport’s SPF 50 formula is the best sunscreen for new tattoos. It’ll act as a super sun barrier and will ensure your ink looks fresh, even after long vacations and hours on the lounger. Quick and easy to apply, it’s fast absorbing, won’t leave your skin sticky, and is free of any nose-offending scent.
SPF: 50 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Water Resistant: Yes | Skin Type: All | Special Feature: Reef Friendly
What To Look For In The Best Sunscreen For Tattoos
SPF is a measure of sunscreen protection. More specifically, how much UVB light it can filter out. Each sunscreen will offer a different level of SPF protection. It is recommended to use an SPF of at least 30, although you may need to go higher if you have fair skin or the sun is particularly strong.
Most skin types should be able to handle the different variations of sunscreen. But if you have sensitive skin, mineral versions are less irritating. You also need to ensure you choose the right SPF. The fairer your skin, the higher SPF you will require.
Technically speaking, any SPF will give your tattoo a layer of protection. However, look out for formulas packed with antioxidants and hydrating ingredients. These are particularly great at helping to maintain the integrity of your ink. If your tattoo is fresh, the best sunscreen for new tattoos is a fragrance-free lotion to avoid irritation.
Tattoos are precious. Whether you have a half sleeve or a mega back piece, offering protection from the sun is vitally important for keeping them fresh (not forgetting the health of your skin). By choosing one of the sunscreens listed in this guide, you’re sure to keep your ink looking awesome for longer and won’t be rushing back to your artist asking for a cover-up.
Cetaphil’s stick version has everything you’d expect from the best sunscreen for tattoos. It’s the perfect size for travel, offers a super sun-blocking SPF of 50, and will hydrate your skin without leaving stickiness or greasy residue.
While it can be perfectly fine to apply any regular lotion to your ink, it’s often safer to use specialist creams recommended by your artist or somebody that’s done their research (that’s me). The best sunscreen for tattoos will be fragrance-free, as well as have the right consistency and SPF protection.
The best sunscreen for tattoos is mineral based. Mineral sunscreens sit on the skin’s surface and act as a physical barrier against the sun. In comparison, chemical sunscreens will absorb UV rays. This can potentially irritate sensitive or freshly tattooed skin.
From paintings to books, objects left exposed to direct sunlight can start to fade. The same goes for tattoos. To slow down the fading process, make sure you apply a generous helping of sunscreen to your body art.