Summer is the season of adventure when people climb out of winter hibernation mode and look to embrace the nicer weather.
It is also a season of spontaneity when we are out and about with our friends. What better way to celebrate the energy of summer than by getting matching tattoos with our friends while in a beach town, on a cross-country road trip, or traveling to a new place?
Unfortunately, summertime might not be the best opportunity to get a tattoo unless you’re willing to temporarily sacrifice some of the free-spirited activities of the season.
There are several things to consider when it comes to summer tattooing — let's look at the important ones before you decide what's best for you.
Summer Tattoo Concerns
Getting a tattoo seems like a great idea in the summer; it may be the first time in a while that you’ve been out in the world after avoiding the cold days of winter and the rainstorms of spring.
If you walk into the tattoo studio for a walk-in or book a tattoo appointment for summer, there are some considerations to account for.
Here are some of the top reasons summer may not be the best time of year to get a tattoo.
At the start of summer, everyone has renewed energy and anticipates the best time of the year. But the source of all that energy, the sun, can do a number on your fresh ink.
When your tattoo is fresh, it is essentially an open wound. Your body fights hard to combat the trauma of your new ink; as such, it will be tender, swollen, and itchy as it progresses through the healing process. These challenges are a given even before we take sun exposure into account.
The sun's ultraviolet rays (UV) make all these symptoms more intense, increasing the risk of infection. Besides that, the sun can have a major effect on the way your tattoo heals.
Excessive direct sunlight can cause pigments to fade rapidly, reducing the much-loved vibrancy of a fresh piece.
Swimming in a Pool
Taking a dip in the swimming pool is a great way to cool yourself in the summer heat, but it is no great friend to a fresh tattoo.
One major concern is the chemicals found in pools. Chlorine is the major culprit — it can slow the healing process of a tattoo, causing inflammation, irritation, and dryness, which can lead to a blurry or distorted tattoo. Hot tubs present the same issues.
Beyond this, waiting at least a month before submerging your tattoo for an extended period is strongly recommended, as it can cause scabs to fall off early and potentially cause scarring.
Many of us can’t wait for that first day we head to the beach with our friends. We spend the winter dreaming of adventures on the boardwalk, tanning in the sand, or taking a plunge in the ocean.
As we’ve noted, the sun can really cause damage to a new tattoo, but there are other considerations when it comes to a beach trip.
When you’re tanning, there's a chance of exposing your fresh ink to physical irritation as you come in contact with the sand. Not only will this cause you unnecessary pain, but it can also further inflame your skin and introduce bacteria into your tattoo.
Taking a plunge into the ocean exposes your skin to saltwater, which can cause dryness, scabbing, flaking, and peeling. These can all disrupt the healing process and affect the final appearance of your tattoo. Wait until healing is complete to get your tanning regimen underway.
You may have heard that intense exercise can be harmful to a new tattoo. Besides potentially overexerting the area you’ve been tattooed in and diverting energy better used for healing your tattoo, sweat is another concern.
Sweat naturally contains water, salt, and bacteria, all factors detrimental to a properly healed tattoo. As sweat comes into contact with your tattoo, it can cause redness, dryness, and inflammation.
Depending on where you live or visit during the summer months, humidity is an environmental factor you may have to grapple with.
Humidity creates excess moisture in the air, an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive and grow. Since a new tattoo is at its most delicate and susceptible to infection in those first few weeks of healing, avoiding humidity is a must.
Finally, getting away from home is among the most exciting parts of summer. Travel is a blast whether crossing a destination off your bucket list or taking a simple day trip.
In the case of a trip to a new climate, some environmental concerns come into play. Your destination may expose your new tattoo to high humidity or extreme temperatures, potentially causing dehydration, irritation, and sunburns.
And in terms of flight, the dry air and change in air pressure in the cabin can cause excessive skin drying.
How to Do Tattoos Right in Summer
Tattooing is a year-round activity, and no one is asking you to avoid it altogether during the summer. Still, it definitely takes a little more planning and intention than some other times of the year.
If you’re going to get a tattoo during this summer season, here are some tips for doing it right.
Keep Your Tattoo Clean
When you’ve just been inked, your body is fighting the trauma caused by the tattoo gun and adjusting to the pigments in your tattoo. It's a work in progress, but an open wound nonetheless, so practicing proper hygiene is a must.
The summer can make this more difficult since we may be exercising, swimming, or doing other activities that make us sweat. Washing your new tattoo regularly with lukewarm water and a gentle antibacterial soap can reduce the potential for infection.
Hydration is important for our bodies year-round, but even more so in the summer when we are exposed to extreme temperatures. Not only does drinking enough water keep our entire body healthy, but it's also important to the tattoo healing process.
As our body heals the trauma from our new tattoo, it needs extra nutrients and fluids, so make sure to get enough H20 in the summer sun.
No one is dying to layer up in the hot sun. In fact, most of us are looking to do the opposite and let loose. But if you want a properly healed, vibrant tattoo, ensure it is covered in the sun.
Looser-fitting clothes are preferable, allowing your tattoo and skin to breathe while reducing excessive irritation from tighter fits.
Once your tattoo is healed, you’ll want to make sure to use high-SPFsunscreen to protect it from the sun. Sunscreen helps to protect your tattoo and the skin around it from the damaging effects of intense UV rays.
Applying and reapplying sunscreen while in the sun can reduce the risk of your tattoo becoming prematurely faded or discolored.
Keep Your Tattoos Moisturized
Moisturized skin is happy skin — the same is true of your new ink. The challenge is that so many environmental factors threaten our skin with dryness and dehydration during the summer.
Keeping your tattoo moisturized can help with the healing process, soothing dryness, redness, and irritation. The nourishing plant oils in our daily tattoo lotion can help lock in hydration throughout your day and be reapplied as much as needed.
Avoid Scratching or Rubbing
There’s no getting around it; healing a new tattoo involves a certain level of itchiness and discomfort. With the summer heat thrown into the mix, this can become even more frustrating as sweat and dryness kick in — not to mention mosquitoes.
Whenever possible, resist the temptation to scratch or rub your tattoo. It can cause increased swelling and irritation and slow the healing process.
Consider Waiting Until the Fall or Winter
This is the piece of advice that many of us won’t want to hear. We get it–this summer reunion may be your friend group’s only chance to get the matching tattoo of your dreams, but at least consider waiting until the fall or winter to get your new piece.
As things cool down in the fall, we start layering up. Our clothes create a barrier between our new tattoos and the sun, reducing UV exposure, sunburns, and the potential for damaged pigments.
With reduced humidity during the fall and winter, your tattoo will also be exposed to less humidity and fewer bacteria–all good things for healing.
Time Your Tattoo Sessions Wisely
Although the summer isn’t the greatest season for getting tattooed, it's not all doom and gloom. With some preparation and the ever-important proper tattoo aftercare routine, there are plenty of ways to do it right.
Mad Rabbit’s sunscreen and other aftercare essentials can help you protect your tattoos against the elements this summer. That way, if you do decide to get inked, you won’t have to miss out on the summer fun. And don’t forget to work with your tattoo artist to plan your tattoo perfectly.