Can I Get a Spray Tan with a New Tattoo?

girl tanning with tattoos

So, can I get a spray tan with a new tattoo? Well, the short answer is no, you can’t get a spray tan until your tattoo has completely healed which normally takes about 2-3 weeks.

Tattoo pigment in the skin needs to be considered as a wound and it will trigger an inflammatory reaction like a bruise, a burn, or worse like infections.

It would be a good idea to try a patch test 24 hours before your spray tanning session to check for an allergic reaction.

Once your tattoo has completely healed and is smooth on the surface, self-tanners of any kind are perfectly safe and won’t have any effect on your tattooed skin.

Now let me delve deeper into the topic and explain all the important details.

Does Spray Tan Affect Tattoos?

The active ingredient in tanning products is DHA which has a chemical reaction that results in pigment once coming into contact with amino acids in our skin cells.

This pigment remains on the outer layer of skin (the epidermis) which is why exfoliating, and moisturizing are important things to do before getting a spray tan.

Since tattoos are injected by a needle, they are in the second layer of our skin, known as the dermis.

This harms our body ever so slightly, causing white blood cells to absorb that pigment and move it through the bloodstream. Tattoo pigment is specifically designed to be too large for white blood cells to dispose of, and so it permanently sits there instead.

So, since spray tan only affects the outer layer of our skin, there is no way it can have any influence on tattoos.

When a new tattoo is still healing though, spray tan can cause harm to your skin at this sensitive time, and it is important to take extra care with healing tattoos.  

Does Spray Tan Make Tattoos Darker?

Older tattoos or ones that are light in color may darken slightly due to spray tan, which makes sense given everything we now know about how tattoo pigment and tanning pigment work.

Once all the spray tan has been exfoliated away, your tattoo will return to its normal appearance.

The good news is that this can be prevented. It takes a while for the tanning process to start, so there is a window of opportunity there.

As soon as you’re able to, after your spray tan, gently rub the product off your tattoo with a damp cloth.

Alternatively, have your air brusher apply a barrier of cream to your tattoo prior to your session because a thin layer of moisturizer can prevent the absorption of spray tan on the tattooed area.

Fresh tattoos should not be covered with any sort of cream to work as a barrier and would need to be covered with some light gauze instead.

Spray Tan Before Getting a Tattoo

It is perfectly safe to get a tattoo after having a spray tan.

There is a small chance of having an allergic reaction or getting an infection due to self-tanner being pushed into the lower layer of your skin by the tattoo needle.

However, this is quite unlikely seeing as a tattoo artist would clean the area with some sort of alcohol solution before starting the tattoo process.

It is still recommended to wait about a week; in order to maintain an even tan, without streaks and such, any harsh exfoliants, makeup, strenuous activity, swimming, and tattooing should be avoided for about a week for the best results with your sunless tan.  

How Long After a New Tattoo Can I Spray Tan?

This completely depends on the tattoo, and it varies from person to person.

Smaller tattoos generally take a week to two weeks to completely heal, however, bigger ones can take anywhere between 1 month to 3 months until the final peel.

In fact, tattoo artists won’t usually add to a tattoo until 2-3 months after for this reason.

Nothing, other than water, specific sunscreens, and aftercare should be applied to a tattoo for the first couple of weeks.

Moreover, a tattoo needs to be treated like a healing wound in the sense that sunlight should be limited as well as submergence in water. So, it’s important to be completely sure that a tattoo has completely healed before getting a spray tan.

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