I haven’t been writing much lately, because the 104o heat around our not-air-conditioned house in the San Fernando Valley has made all kinds of things slow down. We close the windows and pull down the shades early in the morning before it starts heating up, and the house is never as hot as the outside, but still, day after day in a house that comes close to being 90o gets wearying pretty quickly.
All of which got me to thinking about how one cares for tattoos in hot weather and abundant sunshine. Since I don’t have any new ink and I don’t spend a lot of time in the sun (I am a melanoma survivor) I don’t have to do much out of the ordinary. But for those of you who are in different situations, here are some suggestions.
If your ink is new and is in an area usually covered by clothing, be sure to wear lightweight fabric and loosely fitting clothes. Find some clothes at the thrift store that have a fairly busy pattern so that any weeping ink or stains won’t be so noticeable–and that you won’t mind discarding and replacing if need be. If your ink is new and it’s usually visible, do your best to stay out of the sun till it heals. The chemicals in sunscreen are not good for injured skin.
If you sweat on newly inked skin, it will sting. You might want to keep some soft cotton handkerchiefs on hand to blot away sweat without hurting your ink. Once again, the thrift store is a great place to look, and you can just toss the handkerchiefs when you no longer need them.
Sun has been known to fade the colors in tattoos (red is especially susceptible) and to make the ink change color (most noticeably, some black ink turns a murky dark blue or dark green). Once your tat has healed, obviously it’s important to protect it from the sun. Make sure you wear sunscreen and keep the ink out of direct sunlight as much as possible. If you go swimming, you need to be aware of the power of sunlight reflected off the water as well. The worst sunburn I ever got was when I thought I was safe because I was in the water.
What happens when tattooed skin gets sunburned? You need to be extra careful not to pick at it if it starts to peel, and you need to be extra careful not to let it get burned again. You paid a lot of money and put a lot of creativity into your ink, and it would be a shame to have it turn into a murky mess because you didn’t take simple precautions.