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Don't Fade Away: Protect Your Tattoos This Summer

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    Photographed by Lauren Perlstein.

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    Sunbathing is risky — you know that. But, take in some rays when you’ve got a tattoo and you’re just asking for trouble. Namely, dull ink.

    Here's why: Your tattoo resides in a middle layer of skin, called the dermoepidermal junction. When you get a tan, it’s because melanin is secreted into the top layer of skin, the epidermis. Because the epidermis lies above the dermoepidermal junction, this UV-triggered melanin can make an otherwise brightly colored tattoo look muddy and dull. Probably not what you were going for when you got your ink.

    To help prevent this look — as well as, you know, cancer — broad-spectrum sunscreen is a must. However, to really keep your tattoo super bright, there’s another type of skin-care ingredient you can add to your routine: tyrosinase and melanocyte inhibitors.

    Tyrosinase is an enzyme in your body that, when exposed to UV light, ultimately triggers the melanocyte cells responsible for producing skin pigment, melanin. So, tyrosinase and melanocyte inhibitors, like hydroquinone, kojic acid, and licorice extract — the very ingredients you may be using to treat hyperpigmentation — actually block melanin production. So, SPF the hell out of your tattoos when you are in the sun, and then apply one of those like a spot treatment at night to prevent that murky look.

    Luckily, there are a number of products on the market containing these melanin-blocking ingredients. Click through to see the most effective brightening ingredients and some of the best products that feature them — your ink will thank you.


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