Did you know the sun can actually fade a tattoo? Not to mention, tattooed skin is no different than any other skin, which means it’s not exempt from sun protection to protect against signs of aging and skin cancer, too. “Tattoos lighten over time when exposed to UV rays, and if they’re not protected, the skin is just as susceptible to sunburns, and burns can lead to scarring and further issues,” says NJ dermatologist Purvisha Patel, MD. “I recommend using a sunscreen stick with zinc or titanium oxide, which are physical blockers of UV rays.”
Miami dermatologist Dr. Deborah Longwill agrees: “The most vital sunscreens are mineral sunscreens,” she says. “One of the leading causes of wrinkling and breaking down of elastin fibers and collagen is UV exposure. To prevent the skin from making pigment on top of your tattoo, you must protect your skin from visible light such as light bulbs, fluorescent lights and UV rays. These lights and UV rays can stimulate melanin synthesis, changing the shade or hue of tattoos.” These are five top options to consider, depending on your skin type and lifestyle.
If you have dry skin…
CeraVe Mineral Sunscreen Stick SPF 50 ($10)
A high, broad-spectrum SPF paired with CeraVe’s signature combination of three essential ceramides for skin barrier health and hyaluronic acid makes for a winning combination to protect tattoos while hydrating dry skin. It’s also recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.
If you have multiple tattoos and need full coverage…
Mad Rabbit SPF 30 Tattoo Sunscreen ($26)
This brand made its big debut on Shark Tank in 2021 with its best-selling Tattoo Balm that preserves body art with natural ingredients and no greasy residue. This new launch ventures into the world of sun care—a mineral, fragrance-free SPF mixed with carrot extract, aloe vera and vitamin C—and is quickly becoming a favorite among celebrity athletes.
“I am in the sun for over four hours a day in the pool training, so I need something to protect my tattoos, defend them and keep them looking fresh,” says two-time Olympic gold medalist Caeleb Dressel. “I love using this sunscreen, as it’s made with natural ingredients, feels good on my skin and protects my tattoos from the sun without fading.”
If you need heavy-duty water-resistance…
EltaMD UV Stick Broad-Spectrum SPF 50+ ($34)
This dermatologist-loved sunscreen brand finally launched a stick format last month, and it keeps selling out. Safe for the whole family and all skin types, it provides 80 minutes of water- and sweat-resistance so you can feel confident getting those extra laps in at the pool without risking a sunburn on precious ink.
If you have sensitive skin…
Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+ ($9)
For those with easily irritated skin, this vegan, zinc oxide–based stick comes highly recommended by dermatologists and is small enough to fit in your pocket. The addition of aloe vera, shea butter, sunflower seed oil and vitamin E allow the formula to nourish skin as it protects, and it’s non-comedogenic so it won’t clog pores.
If you want a sweat-proof formula for outdoor activities…
MDSolarSciences Solar Stick SPF 40 ($22)
Whether you’re a runner, a beach volleyball player, a dog-walker, or anyone in between who likes to break a good sweat under the hot summer sun (or any time of year), this chic, oil-free stick offers 80 minutes of serious sweat-proofing and water-resistance in a broad-spectrum mineral formula. The bonus: it also contains proprietary ProVention-R Liposome technology, which delivers antioxidants to the skin, including vitamin C, to fight free radicals that cause signs of aging.
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