Sunscreen is not only important for standard skincare but did you know that it also combats tattoo fading and helps improve the longevity of your tattoos? You should consider broad-spectrum SPF protection on all your tattoos when you go outside, as UV rays can hit your skin on even the cloudiest of days.
Many sunscreens on the market are actually quite terrible for both your health and aquatic ecosystems, so we’ve chosen the top 6 best sunscreens for tattoos that will keep you, the planet, and your tattoo healthiest in the heat.
Table of Contents (clickable)
Related: Best Tattoo Aftercare Products
La Roche-Posay are one of those brands that are superheroes in the skincare game, and saviors of our ink. This broad spectrum sunscreen, that blocks UVA, UVB, and free radicals upon application, is no exception.
It topped our list for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s a product that is safe to use on your new tattoo after a few days of weeping. If you want to start protecting your tattoo early, this is the sunscreen you want to go with, as it also provides a cooling sensation upon application which is fantastic for a burning or irritated fresh tattoo.
Secondly, it contains Cell-Ox Shield Technology which not only protects against harmful rays, but is also an antioxidant. It is also formulated with the thermal water of La Roche-Posay which has additional antioxidant benefits.
It’s also dermatologist tested, suitable for sensitive skin, fragrance free, non-comedogenic (which means it won’t block your pores), water resistant for 40 minutes, and did we mention it is 50 SPF? That provides you with incredible protection for your tattoo, extending its color and life.
While you may be tempted to go for a higher SPF from La Roche-Posay’s lineup of sunscreens, such as 60 or 100, this begins to introduce ingredients that are not beneficial for your health or the aquatic ecosystem. Stick with the SPF 50 and reapply when necessary.
Ingredients:Active Ingredients - titanium dioxide 6%, zinc oxide 5%. Inactive Ingredients -
water, dimethicone, isododecane, c12-15 alkyl benzoate, undecane, triethylhexanoin, isohexadecane, nylon-12, caprylyl methicone, butyloctyl salicylate, phenethyl benzoate, styrene/acrylates copolymer, silica, tridecane, dicaprylyl carbonate, dicaprylyl ether, talc, dimethicone/peg-10/15 crosspolymer, aluminum stearate, pentylene glycol, peg-9 polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone, alumina, polyhydroxystearic acid, phenoxyethanol, magnesium sulfate, propylene glycol, caprylyl glycol, peg-8 laurate, disteardimonium hectorite, triethoxycaprylylsilane, diethylhexyl syringylidenemalonate, tocopherol, propylene carbonate, cassia alata leaf extract, maltodextrin, benzoic acid, peg-9.
Ink-Eeze is an incredible brand formulated and used by tattoo professionals around the world. They have a wide range of sunscreens available but their new (and first-ever) mineral based formula for tattoos is our absolute favorite, primarily because it's reef safe and has none of the harsh or dangerous chemicals you often find in sunscreen.
This sunscreen is also vegan, cruelty-free, and produced in a sugarcane resin tube that’s 100% recyclable! It’s super safe for you and your tattoos, and includes shea butter which is an ingredient we absolutely love.
It’s non-greasy and water resistant for 80 minutes, and rubs on clear with Ink-Barrier Technology intended to protect your tattoo from fading. It’s UVA and UVB blocking with 30 SPF and moisturizes intensely as it protects your ink.
Ingredients: Butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, butyloctyl salicylate, c13-14 isoparaffin, cera alba, cyclohexasiloxane, cyclopentasiloxane, ethylhelxyl isononanoate, ethylhexy methoxycrylene, glycerin, glyceryl stearate, hydroxyethyl acrylate/ sodium acryloyldimethyl taurate copolymer, laureth-7, leuconostoc/ radish root ferment filtrate, natural vanilla, peg-100 stearate, polysorbate 20, polyacrylamide, silica, styrene/acrylates copolymer, tetrasodium edta, triceteareth-4 phosphate, triethoxycaprylylsitane, vpieicosene copolymer, water, xanthan gum.
Of all the sunscreen options in the Neutrogena line, this one is our favourite; it doesn’t contain any of the harmful ingredients that can be found in some of the other items on their rolodex.
This sunscreen stick is in an easy-to-use, hands-free, non-greasy format that can be thrown into any pocket or backpack. It’s a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 50+ and is water resistant for up to 80 minutes.
Neutrogena is a dermatologist recommended brand and produces their products with sensitive skin in mind, and the active ingredient zinc oxide is also an anti-irritant.
Ingredients:Active Ingredients - zinc oxide (21. 6%). Inactive Ingredients - octyldodecyl, neopentanoate, c12-15 alkyl benzoate, polyethylene, paraffin, silica, neopentyl glycol diethylhexanoate, ozokerite, isopropyl myristate, adipic acid/diglycol crosspolymer, triethoxycaprylylsilane, neopentyl glycol diisostearate, caprylyl glycol, tocopheryl acetate.
We love MDSolarSciences’ sunscreen for it’s natural ingredient list and oil-free formula that goes on clear and absorbs quickly. It’s rich in antioxidants because of the green tea, cranberry and pomegranate extracts, and Vitamin C in its formula, making this product safe for your skin but also safe for the ecosystem.
It’s a fragrance free formula that is also non-comedogenic, and is proven to be water resistant for up to 80 minutes. It also provides broad spectrum protection with SPF 50.
Ingredients:Active Ingredients - titanium dioxide (2%), zinc oxide (17%). Inactive Ingredients - dimethicone, caprylic/capric triglyceride, dimethicone crosspolymer, dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer, butyloctyl salicylate, glyceryl isostearate, polyester-8, polysilicone-15, behenic acid, camellia sinensis leaf extract, caprooyl phytosphingosine, ceramide ap, ceramide eop, ceramide eos, ceramide np, ceramide ns, ceteareth-25, cetyl alcohol, cholesterol, glycerin, iron oxides, peg/ppg-18/18 dimethicone, punica granatum extract, silica, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, tocopheryl acetate, triethoxycaprylylsilane, vaccinium macrocarpon (cranberry fruit extract).
Specifically formulated with tattooed skin in mind, Rilastil’s Sun System Tattoo sunscreen creates a protective barrier on your skin, protecting the color of your tattoo with a water-resistant film.
It has a broad spectrum protection with 50+ SPF, and provides optimal hydration to your tattoo when applied. Clinically tested on tattooed skin, Rilastil’s sunscreen is hypoallergenic and it’s Pro-DNA Complex means it has been certified to be a powerful sun protectant for all skin types.
Ingredients:Aqua (water), dibutyl adipate, diethylhexyl carbonate, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, titanium dioxide (nano), euphorbia cerifera cera [euphorbia cerifera (candelilla) wax], peg-30 dipolyhydroxystearate, bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine, cyclopentasiloxane, butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, butylene glycol, polyester-7, polymethyl methacrylate, neopentyl glycol diheptanoate; silica, dimethicone, nylon-6/12, panthenol, theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter, glycerin, allantoin, schizandra chinensis fruit extract, artemisia umbelliformis extract, buddleja davidii leaf extract, peucedanum ostruthium leaf extract, pinus pinaster bark/bud extract, disteardimonium hectorite, magnesium sulfate, tocopheryl acetate, propylene carbonate, disodium edta, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin, diglycerin, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, bht, parfum (fragrance).
Drunk Elephant’s broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen goes on sheer and also combats against radical and oxidative skin damage. It’s formula is packed full of antioxidants and it's infused with natural oils that not only provide nutrients to your tattooed skin but also give this a soft and pleasant scent with no added fragrances.
Drunk Elephant prides itself on having formulated a sunscreen without chemicals or silicones, and ensures that it’s sunscreen is suitable for even the most sensitive of skins. It is non-irritating, cruelty-free, and also combats natural skin aging through its ultra moisturizing properties.
People love this sunscreen, saying, “Great product! At last, after trying many physical sunscreens I have found the best! ! After searching and searching for a physical sunscreen that contains 20% zinc, leaves NO white cast, blends in lovely like a rich moisturiser [. . . ] Doesn't feel heavy at all. ”
Ingredients:Active ingredients - zinc oxide 20%. Inactive ingredients - water, caprylic/capric triglyceride, dicaprylyl carbonate, pentylene glycol, glycerin, steareth-2, propanediol, steareth-21, polyhydroxystearic acid, cetearyl alcohol, silica, sclerocarya birrea seed oil, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, chondrus crispus extract, haematococcus pluvialis extract, helianthus annuus (sunflower) sprout extract, vitis vinifera (grape) juice extract, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, raspberry seed oil/tocopheryl succinate aminopropanediol esters, hydrolyzed wheat protein, tocopheryl acetate, tocopherol, sea water, acetyl glucosamine, cetearyl glucoside, sodium stearoyl glutamate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, glycine, sucrose, lecithin, triethoxycaprylylsilane, xanthan gum, trisodium ethylenediamine disuccinate, caprylhydroxamic acid, caprylyl glycol, phenoxyethanol, chlorphenesin, sodium dehydroacetate, iron oxides (CI 77491).
La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Mineral Sunscreen is recommended by The Skin Cancer foundation for prevention of sun damage, and your tattoo is going to thank you for picking up a bottle of this good stuff.
The key ingredients are what we really love about this product, including:
We also love that this product is:
Unlike many sunscreens on the market, La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Mineral Zinc Oxide Sunscreen is one that you can use during the early stages of your tattoo, on day three or four, after it has stopped weeping. We love that we can begin to protect our tattoo against sun damage so early in its life by introducing this sunscreen into our aftercare routine, as good moisturization is crucial for preventing unhealthy scabbing.
We are picky about sunscreen, and rightfully so. It not only keeps our skin safe from harmful UV rays, but also ensures our tattoos stay healthy and bright for as long as possible. Here are a few factors we considered when choosing which sunscreens made the cut.
Eco and Health Conscious
The health of our audience and the health of our ecosystems are of immense importance to us. It’s for that reason that we like to follow Stream2Sea’s eco conscious sunscreen guide. We use this as a reference point for what tattoo sunscreens pass the “safety” test for our list.
Many sunscreens promoted on other tattoo websites or advertised as tattoo-safe or reef safe have an ingredient list with one, two, or more of the items on this no-go list. Homosalate and Oxybenzone are two of the most common ingredients found in standard and tattoo branded sunscreen products, which are linked with numerous hormonal issues, and simply aren't necessary in skincare products. We keep those products off our ink and off our review list.
The only item that we deemed allowable from Stream2Sea’s list of ingredients was cyclopentasiloxane, as recent studies prove it is not as damaging to aquatic life as previously believed. This has been highlighted as a con for the products which contain this ingredient, just for your own reference.
With our reviews, you don’t have to check the ingredient list: we did that for you, also using the INCI Decoder website to double-check our findings. We’re here to look out for you and your ink.
You might be wondering what an SPF number even means. Sun&Skin News answers this question by stating, “The SPF number tells you how long the sun's UV radiation would take to redden your skin when using the product exactly as directed versus the amount of time without any sunscreen. So ideally, with SPF 30 it would take you 30 times longer to burn than if you weren't wearing sunscreen. ”
SPF count can be confusing, so to keep you and your tattoos safe and protected, we didn’t include any sunscreens that were lower than SPF 30. This is the minimum recommended amount by many dermatologists and health professionals, so we followed the same standard for our list.
We love zinc oxide as a sunscreen additive, so five out of the six items on our list have zinc oxide as an active ingredient. It’s non-irritating, has no pore-blocking properties, and acts like a kind of umbrella against UV-light, ensuring the longevity of your tattoo and your skin health.
Sun safety is a priority, and broad spectrum sunscreen not only protects you from harmful UVA and UVB rays, but it helps preserve the art on your skin that you’ve spent hundreds - if not thousands - of dollars on.
As with any product you plan to use on your skin, you should perform a 48 hour patch test on the inside of your elbow. If you intend to use any sunscreen on a fresh tattoo, you may also wish to run it by your artist first, so they can confirm whether it’s best for your skin and new ink.