Can You Get a Tattoo With Fake Tan On? [Things to Know]

Are you freaking out wondering, “Can you get a tattoo with fake tan on?”

Once, I tanned before a tattoo appointment and was worried that it would impact the tattoo process, but my tattoo artist reassured me that I could get a tattoo with a fake tan on. 

But the long answer is a bit more complicated, so I’m here today to talk about everything you need to know about tanning and tattoos.

Just keep reading.

Quick Summary

  • You have to consider the tanning level before tattooing over a tan.
  • Not all tattoo artists are comfortable working with tanned skin. 
  • Your skin needs plenty of time to heal before you can tan after a tattoo. 

READ MORE: The Best Tanning Lotions for Tattoos

Things to Know About Tattooing Over a Tan 

Before talking in detail about getting a tattoo over a fake tan, I want to explain how tanning works and what levels of tanning you can get. 

tanned legs but can you get a tattoo with fake tan on

Tattooing occurs when you get exposed to UVA light from natural sunlight exposure or tanning beds (or when you use tanning lotions.)

As experts from WebMD explain, “It reaches the lower layers of the epidermis, triggering your skin to produce a brown pigment called melanin.” (1)

On the other hand, tattoo artists inject the ink below the outer layer (epidermis) – the dermis. So, if your epidermis gets too dark or damaged, getting a tattoo can be a problem. 

Check: Can I Use Tanning Lotion on Tattoos?

1. Moderate

A moderate tan darkens the outer layer of the skin without causing redness, swelling, or pain. A medium tan is what you get when you spend a couple of hours on the beach or in the sun. 

2. Sunburn 

Sunburn occurs when UV rays burn your skin, causing DNA damage on a deeper level. The usual signs of sunburn don’t show immediately after exposure but take a while to develop. 

Since sunburn is a painful condition and can damage the dermis, you can’t get a tattoo over sunburned skin. You’ll have to wait for your body to heal to reduce the risk of infections and other complications.

3. Fake Tan

Tanning beds offer several levels of tanning:

  • Levels 1 and 2 use low-pressure bulbs with high UVB rays, so it takes longer to form a tan. But they’re perfect for people that burn easily or want to maintain their tan.
  • Levels 3, 4, 5, and 6 use high-pressure bulbs that produce more UVA rays than UVB ones. So you get a tan quickly and don’t need to visit the tanning salon so often to maintain your skin tone. 

Spray tanning involves spraying your body with a fine mist liquid containing the active ingredient Dihydroxyacetone. It’s a chemical that reacts with the outer layers of the skin. 

So, can you get a tattoo with fake tan on it? Let’s find out! 

Can I Get a Tattoo if I’m Wearing Fake Tan?

You can get a tattoo wearing a light to moderate fake tan. A darker tan can be an issue because it interferes with the tattoo colors and makes the artist’s job more difficult.

tattoo on fake tan but can you get a tattoo with fake tan on

Moreover, remember that tanned skin is damaged skin. And not all tattoo artists are comfortable working with tanned skin because it increases health risks.

But what about spray tan? Can you get a tattoo with a spray tan? Since spray tanning uses a chemical to change the skin’s color, it shouldn’t be a problem for light to moderate tanning.

However, spray tanning solutions contain chemicals that the tattoo needles can push deeper into the skin, causing an allergic reaction and increasing the risk of infection. 

Self-tanning lotions also contain DHA, so can you get a tattoo with a self-tanner on? Yes, you can.

According to dermatologist Arielle Kauvar,

“The resulting reaction causes browning, but unlike the reaction caused by UV rays, it involves only the outermost, dead cell layer of the skin.” (2)

So, self-tanning products won’t interfere much with tattooing unless you overuse them and get your skin too dark for a proper tattoo. 

And how do you get tattooed with a tan? Let’s talk about the process. 

How To Get Tattooed With a Tan? 

If you have a tan and want to have a tattoo, follow these simple steps:

  • Talk to your tattoo artists and ask if your tan will interfere and how the tattoo will look after you regain your natural skin color. 
  • Clean the area well to remove bacteria and germs from the skin, mainly if you have used self-tanners. It will reduce the risk of infection.
  • You have to shave the area because hair prevents the needles from penetrating the skin. If you don’t do it at home, the tattoo professional will do it.
  • Avoid UV exposure as much as possible, and give your skin time to heal before getting a tattoo. 
  • Watch this video for more tips for tanning with tattoos.

But can you fake tan and then get a tattoo the following day? Or get a tattoo and then fake tan? You’d be surprised. 

Can You Fake Tan Then Get a Tattoo?

It’s not a good idea to tan and get a tattoo before the skin has time to heal. You’ll increase the risk of infection, and it can mess up the tan and the tattoo. 

Moreover, the tattoo artist will have to clear your skin well before starting the tattooing, which will remove most of 

Tattooed skin also needs a couple of days to heal. Exposing a fresh tattoo to UV radiation can ruin the ink. Spray tanning and self-tanners can also darken the tattoo or cause inflammation. 

So, how long should you wait after tanning to get a tattoo? It’s not as long as you think!

How Long After a Spray Tan Can You Get a Tattoo? 

In general, you should wait until wait at least a week to ensure the tanning process is completed and your skin tone is even before you get a tattoo.

However, it would be best if you waited a couple of months after a tattoo before you get a tan. Applying self-tanners or spray tanning too early can cause an infection. 


Can I Put Fake Tan on a Week-Old Tattoo?

No, it would be best if you didn’t put a fake tan over a week-old tattoo because there’s a high risk of infection and other complications. Wait a few weeks to complete the tattoo healing process. 

Can I Get a Tan-Colored Tattoo All Over My Body?

You can get tan-colored tattoos all over your body, but it will take longer than natural or fake tanning. 

How Long Does It Take For a Tattoo to Heal?

The outer layer of the skin will heal in about two to three weeks. However, the deeper layer will need up to six months to heal completely.


Can I get a tattoo if I’m wearing a fake tan? Moderate or light tan is not an obstacle to getting a tattoo as long as your skin has healed and is not inflamed.

Still, it would be best to talk to your tattoo artist to ensure the tanning won’t interfere with the tattoo process. And keep in mind that self-tanning products can make tattoos darker. 

fake tanned skin but can you get a tattoo with fake tan on

What do you think about this topic? Can you get a tattoo with fake tan on it? Share your thoughts in the comment section!


  • 1. What to Know About Tanning [Internet]. WebMD. Available from:
  • 2. Fake it to Make it: Sunless Tanning Explained [Internet]. The Skin Cancer Foundation. 2017. Available from:
About Edith Russo

Edith is a self-made entrepreneur with a keen business sense that others admire and a total “can-do” attitude. She’s always coming up with new ideas to anticipate her readers’ needs and help solve all their toughest beauty and skincare problems. READ HER LATEST ARTICLES. FOLLOW HER on Linkedin and Twitter. Learn more about her HERE.

Leave a Comment