No, you cannot get tan immediately after getting a tattoo unless your skin has healed completely.
Tanning gives a lovely warm glow to the skin. If you have pale skin, adding color always makes you look fresh and lively. Those with pale skin often feel it looks washed out, and getting a tan during the summer is one of the best ways of adding some colors to the skin.
However, while the tan looks good on your skin and your skin feels warm and rejuvenated, sun damage is a definite concern. The sun’s UV rays can damage your skin; even the most resilient skin can be affected due to prolonged exposure.
Hence, if you have got a tattoo recently, you must be very careful about getting a tan. Tattoo artists will advise you extensively about caring for your tattoo, and you will find them cautioning you against sun exposure.
You can avoid several complications later by staying careful in the initial days after getting a tattoo.
Types of Tanning
There are mainly three types of tanning. Tanning can happen naturally when exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. You can also tan your skin artificially with certain chemicals. Here are a few types of tanning:
When exposed to direct sunlight, UV rays from the sun turn your skin into a darker, cinnamon hue. Sunbathing on the beach or in a park during the summer is a popular option for people to make their skin appear darker.
2. Tanning Bed
In places where the sunlight is not very strong, or if you want a tan during the winter, many opt for the tanning bed. The device emits UV rays and tans the skin.
3. Spray Tans
Spray tans are cosmetic tans that you can spray on your skin. The brownish color pigments stay on your skin for a while. There are usually quite a few chemicals in these products.
How Long Should You Wait to Tan After Getting Inked?
While it is understandable that you will want to flaunt your new tattoo and lovely tanned skin, it is important to wait until your tattoo is fully healed.
It could take eight weeks for a tattoo to heal completely. It can take even longer if you have an extensive tattoo, like a full-back or a full-chest tattoo. In such cases, expose yourself to direct sunlight or get any kind of artificial tanning only after twelve weeks to allow your skin to heal completely.
There is a common misconception that one can get tanned soon after getting a tattoo by applying sunscreen. It’s very wrong because the chemicals in the sunscreen will irritate the tattoo and could cause rashes.
It is not advisable to apply any over-counter-ointment. Keep the area clean and dry, and allow the skin to heal before applying any cosmetic product to your tattoo.
Why is it Important to Wait to Get a Tan After Getting Inked?
The tattoo on your skin is like an open wound. There may be swelling, redness, and itchiness, and there could be some bleeding as well in the initial 48 hours. The multiple needle piercings will leave your skin raw and prone to irritation.
Unless your skin starts forming scabs, the healing process has not begun. When the scabs start drying, your skin will feel even itchier. Once the dried scabs start falling and the skin has closed completely, your skin has healed.
However, this process takes time, and the more intricate and extensive your tattoo is, the more time it will take. Your skin is very sensitive at this time, and the UV rays and heat from the sun will make your skin even more irritable.
Harmful Effects of Tanning on New Tattoo
If you are wondering why waiting to get a tan after getting a new tattoo is important, here are some of them.
The heat from the UV rays of the sun, or artificial tanning methods, will make your skin red and could even cause blisters if you are not careful. Even healthy skin can develop rashes and blisters from exposure to the sun.
Your skin will be raw and red from your tattoo session, and stepping into the sun will worsen it.
Your skin will feel irritable and itchy if you try getting tanned with unhealed skin after getting inked. Your skin will feel raw to the touch, and you will constantly have the urge to itch your skin.
Moreover, when your skin starts healing, the scabs will make your skin feel stretched and irritable. You may even scratch your skin unknowingly, and this could cause renewed bleeding from your tattoo.
Bleeding may occur if you try getting tanned soon after getting a tattoo. A fresh tattoo may ooze blood and even a whitish fluid in the initial days. With the resultant irritation from the UV rays, this might be aggravated. If you develop rashes or blisters, that will cause the skin to swell and cause bleeding and may even cause the tattoo to seep out the ink. That may distort your tattoo, and all your effort could go to waste.
The chances of infection will increase if you try to get tanned soon after getting a tattoo. Whether sunbathing or getting into a tanning bed, the heat may cause you to sweat, leading to bacteria festering in the open wound.
It is not easy to clean the wound, and before you can do it, the damage would have already been done. Unless the tattoo heals, stay away from the sun to avoid sweating and stay indoors as much as possible.
5. Fading Colors
The UVA and the UVB rays of the sun can cause the pigments to fade. Tattoos fade over time for this reason, but while the ink is still new and hasn’t settled into the skin well, it can cause the ink to fade more. If your tattoo has light colors, it could already look paler than you intended.
Caring For your Tattooed Skin to Avoid Sun Damage
Following a proper after-care routine after getting inked is important to avoid sun damage. Some measures you can take are as follows:
- Try to keep your tattoo covered till your tattoo heals.
- You should also wear loose clothing that will cause you to sweat less.
- Stay away from the sun, chlorinated water, or seawater until your skin has healed and closed completely.
- Do not use spray tans on your new tattoo; the chemicals will easily aggravate the skin.
- Keep the tattoo hydrated and moisturized by applying a light lotion once the scabs start appearing.
- Till the time your tattoo has healed, avoid any products on it. Apply sunscreen with SPF 50 or more once the skin has healed and you step out in the sun. Do not put any lotion, ointment, or sunscreen on the tattoo unless the skin has healed or closed, as the chemicals will irritate your skin more.
- Avoid heavy exercises that might lead to sweating and also make your skin stretch, which could cause further bleeding. In addition, try to stay away from the sun or heated spaces that might cause you to sweat. In case of sweating, clean the area with a mild disinfecting soap, pat it dry with a cloth, and allow the tattoo to rest and heal.
While tanning is a very pleasurable experience, and your skin looks very good with a hint of color, it should be avoided should getting a tattoo. You must protect your skin from sun damage even at other times and more so after getting a tattoo.
Always apply sunscreen once your tattoo has healed. It will prevent the tattoo from fading over time and reduce the intensity of your skin’s losing collagen, which can affect its elasticity. Once your tattoo has healed completely, you can sunbathe, use spray tans or tanning beds with care, and your skin will look great.