SAUNA OR STEAMROOM
Once it is healed, there is very little that will screw up a tattoo. The one exception is prolonged exposure to sunlight. (the other is scarring, but that is patently obvious).
Well, unfortunately it is. The newer inks are better at resisting fading but whatever you do, if you spend lots of time in bright sunlight your tats will fade (over a lifetime, not over a week). Best to try and keep them out of bright sunlight. No one wants to become a cave dweller just to keep their tats looking good, so just use some common sense. Think of your tat as an investment – slather on that sunblock so it doesn’t turn into a dark blob.
Our culture has erroneously labeled the tan as healthy. Did you know that your tan is your skin’s way of dealing with the damage caused by the sun? It’s like the formation of a scab when you have a cut. You will pay for your years of sun exposure when you are in your 40s and 50s. Leathery, wrinkled, dry skin with freckles and liver spots. Melanoma. Skin cancer. Regular visits to the dermatologist. Like I say, “There’s no such thing as a healthy tan!” Take it from a Hawaii local! I’ve seen my share of melanoma here, and they’re not even from surfers or beach bunnies!
Some people have gotten angry at me about this, telling me that they have a seasonal disorder that requires them to get some sun. A little bit of sun is okay (and it gives you a dose of Vitamin D). But all you need is a few minutes’ worth.
Tanning booths are not good for you! They are not regulated by the FDA, and the staff that work at these salons have been known to give out patently false information. Many salon operators will suggest dosages far exceeding industry recommendations, and the FDA would actually prefer that these booths be banned altogether. Do not believe the salon operators who tell you there is NO damage caused by their UV rays. There are indications that tanning booths emit rays that cause the type of damage that only shows up years later, when it is difficult to fault any one operator. Their industry motto is “tan safe.” There is no such thing as a SAFE tan, folks. Sorry.
Kai says: “IT IS TRUE THAT SUNTANNING TO A CONSIDERABLE EXTENT NOT ONLY DAMAGES YOUR SKIN BUT FADES THE TATTOOS.” The UV light rays that damage skin can get below the outermost surface of the skin (that’s why skin cancers are promoted by excess suntanning).
The following is information about suncare and sunblock, as well as some specific brand recommendations.
- Try to use products that do not clog your pores. If your sunblock makes you break out or feel itchy, this may be the cause.
- Avoid sunblock containing PABA, apparently found to be carcinogenic.
- “SPF” stands for Sun Protection Factor. If you can normally stay out for ten minutes without getting sunburnt, then an SPF 2 should protect you for 20 minutes, an SPF 6 for an hour, and so on. HOWEVER, this does NOT mean an SPF 30 will let you stay out for five hours with just one coat. Keep your exposure limited to the minimum amounts, and always use an extra strong sunblock with at least SPF 30 for your tattoo.
- “Waterproof” and “sweatproof” sunblocks protect you while in the water. However, reflections from the water add to your exposure. Make sure you use a high SPF number, and always re-apply your sunblock when coming out of the water.
- Sunblock is not just for the beach! Make it a habit to carry one with you during the sunnier months so you can protect your tattoo always! The Watermelon Stick from the Body Shop is nice and portable, but in a pinch, a tube of lip balm (Blistik, etc.) will work, as long as it has an SPF. Dab a bit on your tattoo whenever you will be outside.