If you have a tattoo and want to get your first spray tan, you have to be extra careful. Because tattoos involve placing something under a layer of skin -- and the tattoos are generally meant to be visible and bright -- you have to ensure that you don't ruin the tattoo artist's work, your skin, or your health. The older the tattoo, the easier it will be to get a spray tan without risking complications.
If your tattoo is still fresh, it's still technically an unhealed wound. It's not a good idea to get a spray tan around the tattoo within the first couple of weeks after getting the tattoo, and if you can wait a full month, that's even better. Unique Ink Tattoo notes that tattoos tend to look healed on the surface after a week or two, but underneath that, your body may still be healing. Just as you wouldn't want to get the spray tan liquid in a regular cut or scrape, you wouldn't want the liquid to get into an unhealed tattoo where the liquid might cause infection or irritation.
If the skin where the tattoo is won't be sprayed but is near the area that will receive the tanning spray, talk to the tanning parlor about ways to cover the tattoo without applying pressure. Don't assume just because you're not spraying the tattoo directly that you can forget to protect the tattoo.
Relatively New but Generally Healed Tattoos
Once the tattoo shows signs that it's healed, you still want to be careful, but you can get your spray tan. Cover the tattoo with a barrier cream -- the spray tan parlor should have this on hand, but double-check when you make your appointment -- or with some sort of gauze or padding. The spray tan liquid will not permanently discolor the tattoo, but it will make it look older and darker. Plus, if any part of the tattoo hasn't healed that well or still has a bit of a scab on it, the liquid could cause infection or make the scab fall off prematurely. Spray tan techs have dealt with many clients who have tattoos and will have protection available, or they will be able to tell you what to bring to protect the tattoo.
You can protect these or not as you see fit. Again, the liquid will darken the tattoo, but that will fade away as the spray tan fades. If you want your older tattoo to remain untouched, ask the spray tan tech to use the aforementioned barrier cream or pad.
If you have more questions about tattoos and spray tans, make up a list and ask them when you call a parlor for your appointment. Let the place know ahead of time so the tech can be fully prepared to help you. You can also reach out to places like HD Tan for more information.