How to Tan Safely With Your Precious Tattoos

Is tanning lotions are safe for tattoos?

There are a lot of myths around this.

Many believe that applying these lotions on new tattoos does more harm than good, and in this article, we’ll address the veracity of these claims.

If you want to find out how to tan beautifully and protect your tats in one go, read on for the best outdoor tanning tips!

READ MORE: What Does Tingle Tanning Lotion Do?

Is Tanning Lotion Safe for Tattoos?

The tanning process harms your skin, especially when you have a tattoo and tanning lotion helps protect your beautiful tattoos from UV exposure.

A simple tan without lotion can completely ruin your tattoo colors, which is why you need to always use one.

Yes, different brands have varying levels of efficiency.

But in general, tanning lotion offers tattoo protection as it protects them from the sun’s UV rays.

close-up shot of a lady's face and shoulder with colorful tattoos

Can I Use SPF on My Tattoo?

If you want to protect your skin cells from devastating damage, SPF is a must-have when tanning, period. It’s also an essential tool in your kit to prevent your tattoo from fading while tanning. Advisably, use SPF 30 or higher, and choose a good lotion with a tattoo protector built in. 

Does Tanning Bed Require the Use of Tanning Lotion?

“I’m tanning under supervised rays, surely my tattoos are protected, I do not need tanning lotion.”

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the UV rays from indoor tanning beds are just as harmful as direct sun exposure. Some might even say more harmful. As a result, you’ll need that protective barrier even while using tanning beds, since the ultraviolet rays can also cause damage to your tattoo. In fact, the damage from tanning beds tends to happen faster than when tanning in the sun.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget your SPF, even when you’re on a tanning bed.

READ MORE: How to Tan Legs Fast?

Can I Apply Sunblock on a Fresh Tattoo?

Now, here’s where it gets tricky.

It’s safe to apply sunblock or the best tanning lotion for tattoos protection on tattoos, but please do not apply either of them to a fresh tattoo. You’re to cover new tattoos for a few weeks so they can heal before you apply sunblock or tanning lotion. To be on the safer side, please make sure you follow your tattoo artist’s aftercare guidelines when you get a fresh tattoo.

Tanning lotion cannot fully protect a fresh tattoo that’s exposed to the sun. You should allow a couple of weeks for a protective skin layer to be formed over the tattoo before you begin to apply sunblock or tanning lotions.

How Do You Protect Your Tattoo When Tanning?

The feeling of the warm summer sun on your bare skin is one of the best there is. But when you have tattoos on, you have to take a few precautions. Tattoos need protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays and, consequently, should not be exposed. Here are a few ways to protect your tattoo when tanning:


We cannot overemphasize the use of a tanning lotion with tattoo fade protection when you’re out in the sun. It essentially protects your skin (and inked skin) from the harmful rays of the sun. Look for something with Shea butter and other natural ingredients, especially if you have sensitive skin. 

lady in white bikini using tingle tanning lotion

Related: 5 Best Indoor Tanning Lotion for Sensitive Skin

Spray Tan

Spray tanning and sunless tanning lotion are other means for you to protect your tattoo when tanning.

Unlike laying down at the poolside or a tanning bed, spray tanning does not come with harmful UV rays.

Therefore, you can get a golden spray tan and still maintain the fresh look of your tattoo. 

a lady using a best at home spray tan machine to tan the girl in a bikini

Cover Up

Covering your tat- either with clothing or with a bandage- is the BEST for sun protection, especially for fresh tattoo ink.

You can always fill in the skin around it with a sunless tanner after. 

lady in yellow and white bikini

Is Self-Tanner Safe for Tattoos?

Unlike tanning beds or sun tanning, self-tanner is safe for tattoos, as it does not expose your tattoo to UV rays.

Self-tanning which comes in the form of spray or lotions gives that golden tan without direct exposure to rays. Therefore, no UV rays mean your tattoos are safe and will not fade from self-tanning.

For more tips, check the video below:

CHECK: Can You Get a Tattoo With Fake Tan on?


What makes a tattoo tanning lotion different from others?

Tanning lotions have different purposes. This difference exists in the number, for instance, the higher the number in front of the SPF, the higher the sunray protection. Also, some tanning lotions are a bronzer, giving a darker tan than others.

How do I protect my tattoo when tanning?

There are different methods to protect tattoos when tanning, but the major one remains the use of SPF 30 or higher sunblock. Apart from lotion, you can also make use of coverings or clothe when tanning to protect your tattoo.

When can I tan after getting a tattoo?

After, getting a tattoo, wait at least one to three months before getting a tan. This is because your new tattoo needs time to heal and you’re to wait for weeks to few months before getting a tan.


In summary, tattoos are delicate and require protection from sun rays. and fresh tattoos require even more attention.

In general, is tanning lotion safe for tattoos? Yes, except in the case of a new tattoo as explained above. So, go ahead and enjoy your tan while preserving the beauty of your tattoo.


  • “Tattoo Sunscreen and Other Sun-Safety Tips to Protect Your Body Ink.” 2019. Healthline. July 10, 2019.
  • “What Happens to Your Tattoo in the Sun & Why Experts Say You Should Protect It.” n.d. Bustle. Accessed July 15, 2021.
lady with tattoos at the back

Is tanning lotion safe for tattoos? Have you tried tanning with tattoos? Please share your thoughts and experiences below!

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.