Keep Your Tattoos Looking Their Best With These Suncare Tips

Tattoos are big business. Depending on the size of the piece and where you get it on your body, you can find yourself paying hundreds of dollars to get yourself inked up (via Fash). And anyone who has a tattoo and loves it — we're not talking about those ones people get at 18 and tend to regret later in life — will tell you their tattoo was worth every cent. Whether it's your dog's name or a piece of graffiti you saw outside a bar on the Lower East Side, every tattoo has a story and is unique to the person who wears it.

Tattoos have become so popular that almost half of Americans under 40 have at least one (via Rasmussen Reports). But despite this and the fact that they can be so pricey, not enough attention is paid to the lifelong care of tattoos. It's not just about taking care of it the first week or two after you get inked, but something that requires ongoing attention. And there's no season quite like summer to challenge one's attentiveness to their beloved ink because the sun is a tattoo's biggest enemy.

Whether your tattoo is brand new or decades old, it's important to know how to care for your ink when the summer sun is in the sky.

Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen

The use of sunscreen on tattoos just can't be stressed enough. A brand new tattoo in June can look faded and dull by August if you don't use waterproof sunscreen and apply it regularly, especially if you're going in and out of the water.

"When a tattoo is exposed to direct and/or prolonged sun exposure without sunscreen, it causes the tattoo to have several reactions depending on the stage of said tattoo," tattoo artist Aja-Noelle tells The Zoe Report. "If it is a freshly done tattoo, it can cause severe blistering and cause the ink not to take hold. On the other hand, if the tattoo is somewhat to mostly healed, sun exposure can cause the ink to fade or look bleached out."

As to what level of SPF is best, people with tattoos should opt for the same as people without tattoos. "Apply at least an SPF 30 15 minutes before sun exposure; it should be reapplied with every two hours of prolonged sun exposure," dermatologist Elyse Love, M.D., tells Allure. Nevertheless, some SPF is better than no SPF.

Cover up

Of course, tattoos are meant to be seen, admired, and even ogled sometimes when they're really that amazing. But keeping them covered up in the sun so they can shine, metaphorically speaking, at night is a big part of tattoo care.

Covering up is a great option for people who are allergic to sunblock or don't want to deal with reapplying sunscreen all day long. If you're thinking that putting on more than shorts and a tank top in 95-degree weather isn't something you're willing to do, it may be time to invest in an umbrella. Or, if you head to the park, sit under a tree.

Also keep in mind on those brutally hot days that if your tattoo is new, you want to limit how much you sweat. Sweating, although a necessary bodily function when it's hot out, can mess with the healing of the tattoo and trap bacteria in the skin (via Authority Tattoo).

Stay hydrated

Even if you don't have tattoos, not staying sufficiently hydrated in the summer is never a good idea. Only you need is a few hours in the sun without hydration, sweating yourself silly, to make you feel like you have the type of hangover that comes with a five-martini lunch. Hydration, both internally and externally, is a major component in keeping your tattoo looking amazing (via Inked).

In fact, drinking lots of water isn't just great for your tattoo; it works miracles when it comes to your skin's elasticity (via the Mayo Clinic). People who load up on their daily water intake have fewer wrinkles, don't scar as easily, and even look younger than those who don't hydrate as they should. If you want to make sure your tattoo is still looking its best well into your elder years, then you want to keep those wrinkles and fine lines to a minimum, and water is the key to that.

Choose your colors wisely

Whether it's ink or paint, not all colors are created equally, meaning some fade far quicker than others (via Verywell Health). When it comes to tattoo colors that fade the quickest, those would be the light-colored ones like pastels and white, the latter being barely visible from the get-go. Although you can get about five to eight good years out of these types of tattoos, exposure to the sun will speed up the fading process.

Red, orange, and yellow when used on light skin also tend to fade fairly fast, but still not as fast as pastels and white tattoos. With this in mind, if you're hoping for a long-lasting tattoo — one that can handle a little sun exposure in situations where you just can't avoid it — black, dark blue, and grey will give you at least 10 years of quality looking ink before a touch-up is required to make them look brand-new again (via Ink Eeze).

Get your tattoo in the winter

The final tip that's going to keep your tattoo looking its very best? Get it done in the winter! Yes, this is actually one of the easiest ways to keep your tattoo safe from the damage of sun exposure (via Authent/Ink). Between being covered up to stave off the cold weather and the sun, should you be exposed to it, not being at its summer peak, this really is the way to do it when it comes to getting tattoos. Like, who's going to the beach in their skivvies when it's 10-below?

Like all investments, and some tattoos are indeed investments, it's important to take care of your ink so you're happy with the results not just weeks and months after you get it, but years too. Although tattoos can be removed if you didn't care for them and they look like a hot mess when you're 70, it's something you want to avoid. Tattoo removal is painful, expensive, and time-consuming; it can actually take over a year to have a tattoo fully removed (via Contours Laserspa).

So, instead of going down the tattoo removal road, take care of your tattoo now and be happy you did later.