My tattoo didn't sunburn?

OK - searched the archives for tattoo & sunburn and didn’t find any references except how getting a tattoo felt like a sunburn.

In my case, my tattoo was pretty effective sunscreen.

I’ve got an armband (of entwined “christian” fishes) on my left arm and a large multi-colored phoenix on my right. After a weekend outside, my arms are burnt and peeling except where my tattoos are. Strange.

I would’ve thought that the darker pigment would’ve absorbed more sun and gotten burned worse. Then I started thinking about black-body radiation and now I’m of two minds on the possibilities - probably neither one right.

So - for you physicists (or dermatologists… or tattooists) out there, any straight dope?

No direct knowledge on the sunburning, although it does make sense that an opaque tattoo would block the UV light. However, UV rays will also fade the pigments in the tattoo so you probably should rely more on sunscreen and less on the ink.

What’s harmful to the skin cells is UV radiation. Your skin doesn’t normally get hot enough to damage the cells, so it doesn’t matter much that the pigment may be getting very slightly hotter. What’s important is that the pigment is blocking the UV from reaching the skin cells.

Sun will fade your tattoo - I always use sunblock on mine.