You’ve got the ink, left the artist and tattoo shop behind. Now you have to care for the body art investment that has come to life on your skin. The following behaviors are common causes for the ruination of a new tattoo during the first month after completion. Avoiding these 13 common mistakes will help keep your tattoo looking it’s best during the healing and aftercare process, and long into the future.
It’s amazing how common it is that people don’t practice tattoo aftercare once the antiseptic bandage applied by the tattoo artist is removed and the excess ink is wiped away. Sure, there are numerous tattoo enthusiasts that apply the dry healing method of tattoo aftercare, but that is still
actively treating your tattoo as you need to wash your tattoo with soap three times a day to cleanse the wound,
and take other steps to ensure it heals properly.
Some people just don’t seem to think that the pain and expense involved in getting a flash new tattoo is worth
continuing with once the bandage comes off, ignoring after care treatment or risk factors linked to tattoo infection,
discoloration, and color drop out. Not caring for your tattoo isn’t tough or old school, it’s stupid. Look after your ink investment.
Direct exposure to sunlight while your new tattoo knits and heals can be detrimental to both your skin and the
tattoo ink. Understandably, your chosen education, job, or the climate you live in may make it difficult to cover up your body
art or keep it out of the sun. Should you absolutely need to, apply a small amount
of tattoo specific 30+ SPF sunblock every time you go outside uncovered and carry the sunblock with you so that
it can be re-applied.
Make sure if you’re getting inked during a vacation that you don’t roll into the tattoo shop sunburnt – you could be
turned away by the artist – and if possible, wait until you’re just about to journey home to get your prized new
piece of art. This approach will help you get the most out of your time away without having to spend time worry about a tattoo
out in the sun.
By the time you reach the end of your first week after getting a fresh tattoo is when you’ll see the most tattoo
scabbing and peeling.
It’s imperative that during this part of the process, when your tattoo is looking and feeling it’s absolute worst, that
you let the tattooed area heal without picking, poking, prodding or scratching at your skin.
If you mess up during this phase of the process, you could pull out the ink and leave scars, tattoo discoloration,
or also prompt infection.
Use a soft towel, or clean paper towel, when you’re cleaning it or patting it dry after contact with water. Be gentle
to your healing ink always to get the best result.
This recommendation is dependent on the placement of your new tattoo. If your fresh body art is in an area
where you would normally shave, like under your arm, legs, scalp, face or neck, hold off until it’s fully healed.
Scraping over a fresh wound with a razor – even a very sharp one – is not a smart idea. In addition
to scraping off healing scabs before they’re ready to come off you could create a range of other irritants while the
wound knits and heals.
You should be okay to start shaving again about a month into the healing process, once the scabs
have fallen off without assistance and the linework has also finished shedding.
Using some medicated products, like Neosporin and Bacitracin could cause the body to reject it or heal too
quickly, creating an allergic reaction that could involve a significant rash or series of tiny red dots.
Neosporin is mostly used in medical situations and is designed to act as a very thick barrier between the skin and
the atmosphere to prevent the introduction or reintroduction of bacteria. It works by holding the moisture content
within the wound while keeping oxygen at bay.
Some medicated ointment’s properties have an adverse effect on tattoos. The patch of skin that has been
‘traumatized’ by several needles pricking it over and over needs oxygen with a thin layer of moisturization in order
to heal the best way possible.
Neosporin is also petroleum based, so it’s a lot harder to remove from the skin. The extra scrubbing could lead to
further irritation or remove skin not ready to flake or scab. It can even affect the tattoo by fading the ink through
excessive washing that drops color from the tattooed area.
You can get your tattoo wet during the tattoo aftercare process, but make sure you don’t soak in water of any
type for at least three weeks or until the tattoo heals in full.
Water entering the tattoo wound can interfere with the healing process itself or cause infection to the tattooed
area. This would increase the time the tattoo needs for healing – or necessitate the ink being fixed or treated
– and can punish the ink and tissue underneath.
Swimming pools contain chemicals, and a lot of people use them. The substances carried by chlorinated water
and the people who swim in them are not suitable for the wound and can lead to significant consequences.
The risk of infection is also prevalent in natural water bodies – both salt and fresh – due to bacteria and other
contaminants in the water. A person should refrain from entering them
It’s important to let your tattoo breathe.
Tight clothing can stick to your skin or negatively impact airflow which can promote sweating, chafing and
Try to make sure you avoid active wear, which applies technology to move moisture away from your skin and
keep you dry during exercise and leisure activities.
If you live in a warm or hot climate, wear loose fitting clothing that doesn’t constrict movement of air and your
If you live in a cold climate and you need to stay warm, try to choose a fabric such as cotton to put next to your
skin as it breathes better and allows for better moisture flow.
In the wet healing method of tattoos aftercare moisturization is crucial for it to heal but applying too much
aftercare product or soap is equally as damaging to how tattoo heals as doing nothing.
Over moisturization is often the hidden cause of infection as people try to do too much to either speed
up the healing rate or by thinking the ugly part of the healing process can be stopped by lotion, salve, or
Take care, apply lotion in a thin layer at regular intervals but allow it plenty of time to work before putting on
You must not combine each method of the aftercare of tattoos.
Wrap healing is done by keeping your tattoo wrapped in plastic during the entirety of the healing process (you
only uncover to cleanse the wound).
The idea is that the plastic helps facilitate healing as it locks in the natural moisture of your skin rather than
dissipating as it would during the dry healing or wet healing process of the tattoo.
Dry healing is after care of tattoos that refrains from the use of product, lotion, balm or moisturizer in caring for
freshly inked skin.
Wet healing is the current standard practice involving after tattoo care use of salves, lotions, or moisturizing
products in the aftercare process.
Choose one of the healing methods and take care to stick to it. If there are issues with your chosen method, see
your tattoo artist or a healthcare professional and gather information to try and help fix the problem.
Some degree of sweating is to be expected. However, sweating too much is not good for the first weeks after
getting inked. Avoid participating in heavy sweating activities or gym sessions until at least the second round of
layered tattoo peeling is complete.
Gyms, sauna, and activities such as hot yoga can expose your tattoo to bacteria, while running and wearing tight
active wear clothing can stretch and chafe your tattoo.
Avoiding drugs, cigarettes and alcohol all together after getting new ink – particularly large pieces – is highly
recommended in order to maximize your opportunity to stay healthy and hydrated and keep your skin in the best
This approach may be impractical for some people, so try to stick with moderation wherever possible, wash
your hands thoroughly and avoid partying too long and too hard. It’s also a good idea to avoid foods high
in saturated fats and oils.
Don’t touch your tattoo, and don’t let anyone else touch it either. Every time that you need to handle your freshly
inked skin make sure your hands have been washed thoroughly with a mild antimicrobial soap (preferably a
natural, paraben free unscented soap product) before commencing your chosen aftercare ritual.
On completion of your fresh tattoo it gets wrapped in a bandage suitable for protecting fresh wounds. Depending
on the type of bandage, the type of aftercare approach you’ll be taking through the healing process, and the
instructions from your tattoo artist this bandage will be removed anywhere from 3 – 24 hours after the ink is
finished and you’re out of the chair.
Once it’s taken off, avoid re-applying a new bandage. It will be counterproductive to wrap the tattoo again, it
needs to be able to breathe and for moisturization to occur at a different rate.
Following the advice outlined above will maximize the opportunities for your tattoo to heal its best, but mitigating
risk is not eliminating it all together. You may do everything correctly during the stages of healing and still
encounter problems with your healing tattoo.
Should you encounter problems at any stage of the tattoo healing process your first port of call should be to your
tattoo artist or the tattoo shop you got inked. They will be able to allay any fears you might have while the tattoo
heals, recommend an alternative treatment method, or send you to the doctor for medical intervention if there is a
Your tattooist is also likely to be personally invested in seeing their good work heal into a badass piece of
finished tattoo art.
The tattoo session is over but your journey with tattoo aftercare has only just begun. From which soaps to use to what activities
to avoid, we came up with some tattoo aftercare tips that’ll help protect your precious piece. If you want to know how to take
care of a tattoo, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the top tattoo Dos and Donts.
• Listen to your artist! They’ll cover your tattoo with a sterile absorbing pad and bandage after your session, then give
you instructions on how to uncover and clean your piece at home. Some adhesives may cause irritation, so be sure
to disclose any allergies with your artists.
• Wash your tattoo with a mild antibacterial soap. Some soaps are specifically designed for tattoo aftercare.
• Dry your tattoo with a fresh towel paper towel or (ANTI-MICROBIAL WASHCLOTHS FOR TATTOOS)
• Apply an anti-inflammatory balm to reduce swelling and redness. Pain-relieving gels and creams may provide
• Keep your tattoo exposed as much as possible for quicker healing.
• Wear loose-fitting clothing, if possible, to prevent the fabric from pressing against your tattoo.
• Wear your tattoo with pride.
• Don’t remove your bandage too soon! Keep your tattoo covered for as long as your artist recommends. The bandage
absorbs excess blood, ink, topical anaesthetics, ointments, etc
• Don’t use hot water to clean your new tattoo; wash with warm water instead. Hot water will cause your pores to open,
leaving new tattoo susceptible to bacterial infection and ink leakage.
• Don’t put your new tattoo directly under running water—don’t soak it either.
• Never rip the bandage off! Use a bit of cold water to break down the adhesive until it’s no longer painful to remove.
• Don’t re-bandage or cover your new tattoo. Tattoos need to breathe and stay dry to heal.
• Don’t pick the scabs—yuck! Aside from that being a terrible habit, your fingers could transfer bacteria. Your tattoo is
an open wound and vulnerable to infection during the healing process. Let the scabs fall off by themselves or gently
wash them off in the shower.
• Don’t go tanning. Limit your tattoo’s exposure to sun, if possible. If you must be outside, find a tattoo-specific
sunscreen with at least 30 SPF.
• Don’t swim, soak, sweat, or sauna for at least 6-weeks after your tattoo! That may be easier said than done, but wet
tattoos don’t heal properly.
So how long does it take a tattoo to fully heal? According to Healthline, the outer layer of your skin (the skin you see)
will heal within 2-3 weeks. However, the skin underneath can actually take up to 6 months to fully heal. The healing
process occurs in stages and can vary for different people. Applying the above Do’s and Don’ts tattoo aftercare tips
can help the process.
Your tattoo is fine art but will require a lifetime of aftercare.