In fact, sunburn (via UVB rays) do not affect the dermis (the second layer of skin where your tattoo ink lives), they only affect the outer layer of skin (epidermis).
Whilst sunburn definitely is not good for your skin and will affect your skin and tattoo appearance, the real villain in destroying tattoos are the UVA rays.
It all starts when your tattoo is exposed to UVA rays (these are the bad boys responsible for aging skin), these rays go straight to your dermis and start breaking down your tattoo ink.
Your white blood cells then notice the UVA damaged ink in your system and go straight to work removing it, quite alike it would any other infection or bacteria in your body. This is why sun exposed tattoos not only fade, but they can also completely drop out, as the white blood cells have removed parts of the tattoo entirely.
Some ink types are more susceptible to UVA rays and will either fade very quickly or change colour entirely, for example blacks can often change to blues or green.
It is good tattoo care hygiene to not only apply sunscreen to your tattoos during long periods in the sun when you would expect your skin to get burnt (eg. a day at the beach), but every time they will be exposed to the sun (eg. when outside working or exercising, driving the car, etc).
You can still enjoy showing off your tattoos in the sun, Dr Pickles has an excellent SPF50 Tattoo Protection Sunscreen that with not only hydrate and moisturise your skin, it will protect you from the harmful UVA and UVB rays.
Lastly, do not under any circumstances, use sunscreen on a tattoo that is not completely healed!
During the healing stage, the tattoo is still an open wound, and the ingredients in sunscreen will irritate it.
Instead, while the tattoo is healing, use your usual tattoo aftercare products (we of course recommend Dr Pickles Antibacterial Foam Wash and Dr Pickles Tattoo Balm) and keep it covered with loose clothing (our ¾ sleeve baseball t-shirt is perfect for this!) until it is fully healed.
Firstly, did you know your tattoo does not need to be sunburnt to start breaking down and fading?