Tattoos can fade with exposure to the sun or UV rays from a tanning bed. The cost of touching up the tattoo to fix the faded color can start to add up and become expensive. When out in the sun or in the tanning bed, protecting your tattoo from the rays will ensure the long life of the bright colors in the artwork. Avoid tanning completely for at least two weeks, which is normally the length of the healing process for a tattoo.
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Sunscreen will protect your tattoo when tanning in the natural sun or in a tanning bed. Use a high SPF to reduce the risk of fading the tattoo; apply 50 or higher. Apply the sunscreen with a cotton swab to cover the intricate details and the outline of the tattoo, which will protect your tattoo and tan the skin around it instead of leaving a border around the design. Using your hands to apply the sunscreen may result in an uneven application and parts of the skin around the tattoo will not tan or the tattoo may not be completely covered. Another option is to use a sun block stick for application. Lay the stick flat on the inside of the tattoo to rub the sunscreen on and use the side of the stick for the outline.
There are several ways to cover up the tattoo while tanning to prevent the color from fading. Cut a piece of fabric that is the size and shape of your tattoo to lie across the skin during tanning. Apply stickers before exposure to the natural sun or the tanning bed. Cut the stickers to the size and shape of the tattoo. Do a spot test on a small part of the skin with the stickers to ensure that your skin will not react to the adhesive. Block the rays by wearing an ankle sock for foot tattoos. Place a hand towel, provided by tanning salons, over the tattooed area for the duration of the tanning session. Wear a sweatband around ankles, wrists, calves and forearms for small tattoos in those areas. For large tattoo areas, such as full backpieces and half sleeves, a T-shirt will cover the piece. Choose a bathing suit that covers hip, stomach, buttock and lower back tattoos with material. A sarong prevents the tattoos on thighs from exposure for women, and long board shorts will cover thigh tattoos for men.