Tattoos are awesome, well, so is tanning…
However, the ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or tanning beds expedite tattoo fading. So, today we’ll show you the best tattoo tanning lotions to keep your tattoos looking brand new while you work on your beach bod!
At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Tanning Lotion for Tattoos:
- Ed Hardy “Black Elixir” Tanning Lotion – Our Top Pick
- Australian Gold JWOWW Natural Black Bronzer
- Snooki Hot Skinny Sizzling Super Dark Maximizer
- New JWOWW (TATTOO color protection)
- Supre Tattoo Dark XXX Black Bronzer Tanning Lotion
Best Tanning Lotions for Tattoos
Ed Hardy “Black Elixir” Tanning Lotion
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Australian Gold JWOWW Natural Black Bronzer
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Snooki Hot Skinny Sizzling Super Dark Maximizer
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New JWOWW (TATTOO color protection)
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Supre Tattoo Dark XXX Black Bronzer Tanning Lotion
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Ed Hardy’s tanning line was inspired by Don Ed Hardy, a famous tattoo artist. Their products claim to have something for everyone. The Black Elixir includes anti-aging properties, an extreme bronzing blend, and a multi-stage release (extreme, immediate, and delayed). Its scent is named “Jackfruit and Lotus,” and the official product actions are “Tan Enhancer / Bronz.”
The Ed Hardy Elixir does a good job protecting tattoos, but its bronzing might be a little darker then you think. If laid on too thick, it can even give off the orange spray tan look.
- Very effective at protecting your tattoos
- Decent sized bottle
- Fairly priced
- A little darker than expected
The Australian Gold brand was found in 1985 and, unlike many specialty lotions, stocks some products in drugstores. Australian Gold’s JWOWW natural bronzer includes a yogurt base infused with pear extract, black current oil, and Kendi oil extract, all geared toward skin softening/smoothing. Its “Ink-drink Complex” contains Shea Butter, Beeswax, and raspberry meant to rejuvenate and restore tattoos.
As a bronzer, this product is awesome. Great tone, and goes on smooth with a pleasant scent.
- Great tone
- Smells nice
- Good for the money
- Look out for fakes
Supre Snooki is also among the Supre tanning product line. The active ingredients are water, seed oil, and glycerin. It is a “tingler,” promising an immediate rush of heat. Its “Tattoo Color-Shield” is designed with essential minerals, aloe, and algae to protect color and vibrancy.
If you’re not used to it or have sensitive skin, the tingler might be too intense for you. As a tanning lotion for tattoos, the shield does a good job keep colors true.
- Ideal for serious tanners – tingles
- Strong protection
- Not for sensitive skin
- Doesn’t smell great
4. New JWOWW (TATTOO color protection)
Australian Gold’s JWOWW Tattoo Color Protection is not intended to aid tanning. It is solely meant to protect tattoos while tanning. Its “Mineral Tattoo Protection” includes undefined minerals, Honeysuckle Extract, and Grape Seed Oil. Grape Seed Oil is an antioxidant, but honeysuckle extract lacks sufficient evidence to state whether it is effective. It, too, contains an “Ink Drink Complex” of vitamins A and E along with beeswax and raspberry.
It claims to be fragrance-free, but it kind of has an unpleasant odor. Overall, this tattoo protector does what it was made to do well, which is protect your tattoo while you’re tanning in the sun.
The Supre Tanning product line is manufactured by Sun Evolutions with the mission statement, “Embrace the ultimate in tanning performance and skin care beyond compare.” Supre Tattoo Dark XXX Black Bronzer provides more tattoo protection information than the prior two reviews. It is defined as a bronzer listing both DHA and natural tan enhancers, though it did not embellish on the latter. Their “Tattoo ColorShield Technology” uses aloe and algae to maintain color, and an “Inkcredible” moisture blend including cocoa butter, sunflower oil and olive oil for nourishment and rejuvenation.
Supre Tattoo Dark XXX can feel “watery” on your skin. And sometimes, it has a tendency to run off and/or stain home surfaces.
- Decent bronzer
- Smells ok
- Quite watery – runs off
- Can stain skin sometimes
Tanning Lotion – All You Need to Know
Fun Facts about Tanning and Tattoos
Both statistics about tanning and scientists recommend minimal skin exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Regardless, 2016 US statistics about tanning show 30 million people use tanning beds at least once a year and statistics about tattoos show 45 million people have at least one tattoo.
Tattoo ink exists as permanent scar tissue in the layer of skin cells between the dermis and epidermis. The latter is the visible surface layer. According to cosmetic chemist Kevin Ewell, UV rays activate specific cells called melanin. Melanin cells discharge a tanning pigment that rises to the epidermis, covers and eventually fades tattoos.
UV exposure is inherently dangerous. The FDA website states “a tan is the skin’s reaction to exposure to UV rays.” The fluorescent bulbs in tanning beds manufacture intense doses of UV-A and UV-B radiation. Quality tanning lotions include protective ingredients from UV rays, moisturizing ingredients to reduce the risks of damage, and healing ingredients for aftercare. Because the tanning pigment from melanin is what eventually causes the tattoo ink to fade, some tanning lotions pointedly incorporate ingredients geared for tattoo protection.
Is Tanning Lotion Real or a Scam?
New consumers may question whether tanning lotions are ever real or a niche scam. Tanning lotions cannot be 100% guaranteed effective because of each person’s unique body chemistry, but the science behind tanning lotion is real.
Tanning lotions aim to enhance UV rays during controlled tanning sessions and condition the skin to absorb tanning pigment. Concurrently, it is important to preserve or add to the skin’s moisture. L-Tyrosine, an amino acid, stimulates melanin production and is the main ingredient in effective tanning lotions. The remaining active ingredients involve a blend of vitamins, minerals, and natural oils. Moisturizing ingredients are emphasized because the dehydrated skin will peel. Peeling skin reveals an uneven skin-tone and shortens the tan’s longevity.
Some tattoo lotions contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which colors dead cells on the skin’s surface. DHA is also found in sunless tanning lotions. Scientists debate DHA’s safety because it chemically alters skin cells, but it is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for cosmetic use.
What Makes Tanning Lotion for Tattoos Different?
Tanning lotions that claim to protect tattoos reference moisturizers, vitamins, and minerals in the ingredients. This is consistent with standard, long-term tattoo care. Commonly recognized ingredients include raspberry, Beeswax, Shea Butter and Aloe Vera.
- Raspberries are antioxidants high in vitamins A, and C. Antioxidants limit free radicals that cause skin cell damage. Vitamin E and Pomegranate are also antioxidants in quality indoor tanning lotions. For tattoos, antioxidants work to repair the damage from UV-A and UV-B rays.
- Beeswax is known for anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. In tanning lotion, it serves to protect, soften, and heal skin. For tattoos, beeswax acts as a protective layer between the UV-A and UV-B rays and assists with healing afterward.
- Shea Butter is a vitamin A cream used for hydration and healing. Not all Shea Butters are automatically good quality. Tanning lotions are usually scented, which may chemically alter the Shea Butter and compromise its integrity. A preferable alternative for tattoos is a separate container of all-natural Shea Butter.
- Aloe Vera is a plant extract known for soothing, antioxidant, and hydrating properties. “After-sun” products use it as a main ingredient for healing and restoration. For tattoos, Aloe Vera is included to assist with healing after tanning.
Personal Factors To Consider
Every person’s skin is unique in body chemistry and individual preferences. The main varieties available are bronzers, accelerators, and tinglers.
Bronzers rely on natural pigments or DHA as a dye. As previously stated, DHA works by dying dead skin cells. The intended “pro” is a deeper tan more quickly, which is advantageous for fair-skinned people. A typical “con” is a propensity to turn skin orange or to run (known as “streaking”).
Accelerators focus on hydration as a natural tanning agent. Accelerators do not carry the “orange skin” risk. It is recommended for those with fair or sensitive skin.
Tinglers stimulate the skin through micro-circulation. The goal is to maximize tanning pigment absorption while both smoothing and firming skin in the process. Consumers with sensitive skin report an extremely unpleasant sensation, sometimes described as painful.
As an article from Skinbeautifulcare.com notes, tanners may hit a “tanning plateau” that tanning lotion can overcome. They also point out the importance of reading the product label and focusing on quality.
A small portion of tanning lotions contains a Sun Protection Factor (SPF), but most do not because SPF may harm the bed’s acrylic surface. These lotions are not sold in professional establishments. Seeing a visible difference in skin shade will take longer because of the other protective ingredients differentiating tanning lotion from regular sunscreen.
Additional Information and Alternative Routes
Tattoo experts and artists unanimously recommend never exposing new tattoos to UV rays. The healing timeline varies, but three-to-four weeks is the norm and following the specific aftercare instructions provided for new tattoos should be the priority.
If the motivation for purchasing tanning lotion is solely based on tattoo protection, there are other options. According to HealthGuidance.org, using a high SPF sunblock is an effective method of protecting tattoos. For indoor tanning beds, direct contact with SPF on the bed’s acrylic may damage it, so sunblock should be reserved for skin that will not make contact with the bed, or for stand-up beds with no direct skin contact.
Finally, most tanning businesses offer a questionnaire to establish skin-tone. Some lotions are geared for fair, medium, or dark skin tones (fair = I or II, medium = II, III, IV, dark = IV or V). Most establishments sell lotions on-site and will assist in choosing the safest and most effective lotion.
That’s everything you need to know when deciding on some tanning lotion for protecting your tattoos. We’ve listed 5 good lotions to choose from, now it’s up to you which one you choose. Get out there and enjoy the best of both worlds with some tanned skin and a cool looking tattoo!