As summer approaches and temperatures rise, hemlines go up and tank tops come out—or off— and our pale skin gets its much-needed contact with the sun. But how do we keep from getting burned on our most sensitive parts? Of course we mean our tattoos. Ink can be a costly investment, and no one wants to sit in a chair for hours being stuck with a needle only to have that bird/Chinese character/set of Black Flag bars fade once the summer comes along. So what is the best tattoo maintenance remedy?
James Motz, manager of New York Adorned (47 2nd Ave., 212-473-0007), warns that proper skin care is essential for keeping tattoos looking as good as the day they got inked. "The tattoo’s only gonna look as good if you take care of your skin," he says.
And even though you’ve heard this advice from everyone, it can never be stressed enough: The numberone must for preserving tattoos—and your skin in general—is making sure to put on sunscreen. "The higher the SPF the better," advises Matty No Times, an artist at Three Kings Tattoo (572 Manhattan Ave., 718-349-7755). "Tattoos break down over time, it’s just something that they do," says No Times. But he stresses that if you’re going to be in the sun, lotion goes a long way to preserving the color.
And it’s not just the sun that’s out to get you. Marina Inoue from Fly Rite
Tattoo (492 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn, 718- 599-9443) says those who are planning to get inked in the summer might want to think about this: You can’t go swimming in the ocean or a pool, and it’s recommended that you stay out of the sun for at least two weeks after getting a tattoo.
Hendrix Alomar, the manager of NorthStar Tattoo (74 E. 7th St., 212-228-6724), says he sometimes encounters customers who ignore his rules and instead get their tattoo care advice from outside sources. And the results can be pretty bizarre, like people applying mayonnaise instead of moisturizer, or using Listerine—ouch!— to clean a tattoo.
Inoue has also seen some pretty weird self-prescribed methods for tattoo preservation. "Some people slather on Vaseline thinking that’s what you should do. You shouldn’t," she says. "I’ve seen dudes walking around in tank tops with their new barbed wire armband blazing in the sun covered in shiny ointment. That’s never good."
And lastly, if you do get a tattoo in the summer, do not apply suntan lotion to the fresh ink. After all, a tattoo is basically an open wound and that, everyone agrees, would not be beneficial—plus it would sting like hell. The best bet for fresh summertime ink is to keep covered up.