Tattoo Aftercare: What You Need to Know

How to Take Care of Your New Tattoo

While you’re in the tattoo studio, your tattoo artist will take good care of you, ensuring that you have a great experience and that the pain is kept to a minimum. Sadly, you can’t take a tattoo artist with you afterward, so it is vital that you learn a little about aftercare and how to take care of a tattoo. For a little while after you have first got your ink, you may need to apply some products and exercise other aspects of post-tattoo care. 

In this guide, we’re covering aspects of tattoo care such as what to put on a tattoo after it has been completed and even how to clean a tattoo. Make sure you minimize the chances of anything going wrong, or your ink getting infected.

Why Is Tattoo Aftercare Important?

Well, tattoos can be quite a delicate thing. There's always a chance that if you don't take proper care of your tattoo, you'll get an infection, have itchy tattoo problems, or you could even end up damaging the tattoo with scarring. Ultimately, it can cause you a lot of pain and misery, and it may not look as good.

New Tattoo Aftercare Guide

The following tips can help you with your post-tattoo care and ensure that you know what to do after getting a tattoo. If it’s your first visit to the tattoo studio then this can be quite daunting, but don’t worry, you will be given advice on how to look after your new ink.

Follow Your Tattoo Artist's Advice

Schedule a tattoo consultation with your artist to let him give you advice on how to look after your tattoo. Always follow their instructions. They may be able to give you specific advice based on where the tattoo is on your body, for instance, or recommend ointments and treatment products.

Tattoo Aftercare products

There are a few products that can make all the difference when it comes to aftercare. You should use an antimicrobial soap for cleaning.

  • An antibacterial ointment can be a good idea. Ensure it is high-quality and specifically designed for tattoos. 
  • As you will need to wrap the tattoo, a specific tattoo wrap rather than just using cling film can also help.
  • As we’ve already discussed, a moisturizer is vital, too. This prevents the tattoo from scabbing and drying out.

If you have any more questions about aftercare and what to put on a tattoo, you can always discuss this with your tattoo artist. This is part of what your consultation is all about, and you’ll probably have time to ask on the day of getting your ink done, too.

How Long Does It Take a Tattoo to Fully Heal?

Getting a tattoo is a big deal, and even with the best aftercare routine for your tattoo, it can take months to heal. Luckily, the bulk of the body’s healing process is in the first 2-4 weeks, but you still might need to keep an eye on the tattoo for up to 6 months while it is completing the healing process.

Tattoo Aftercare Day by Day

After the day you visit the tattoo studio, it helps to have a day-by-day plan to ensure that you are doing all the right things to keep your tattoo in the best possible condition.

Days 1-3 are about keeping the tattoo covered but also clean, and allowing it to breathe for a period of time each day. 

Around days 6 -15 you will get some scabbing, even if you’ve been applying products. Do not pick at this as you risk damaging the skin.

Allow It to Breathe

Although in the early stages the tattoo needs to be wrapped, it is important to remember to let it breathe as time goes on. Don’t wrap it for longer than you have to, and when you clean and apply ointment it is a good chance to leave your skin uncovered. Clothing can get in the way and actually prohibit the healing process. Give the tattoo some time to come into contact with the air rather than spend all of its time under cover. 

How to wash a tattoo?

Always use an antimicrobial soap and water whenever you need to clean, and when you need to dry it be sure to pat dry rather than rub. Once it is dry, this is a good time to apply your moisturizer or ointment.

Avoid any body wash products that are scented or contain harsh chemicals, as these can easily irritate the skin and cause your tattoo to have a negative reaction.

Apply Ointment

Ointment or moisturizer is essential. It serves multiple purposes, especially if you get an antimicrobial or antibacterial model. It keeps you safe from infections and keeps the tattoo looking great, as you will not be tempted to scratch the area! Itching can be the enemy of tattoo healing. Ointment gives the skin the best chance of healing smoothly and not causing you loads of irritation in the process.

Did you know that keeping your skin moisturized is about more than just applying products? You should make sure you stay hydrated, too. 

Long-term Aftercare Tips

After a month or so then the aftercare process will usually become much more simple and straightforward. Most of the initial healing issues will be over. For example, your tattoo will no longer be red and sore, and the scabbing should have all gone away. This means that you just need to make sure that the tattoo is kept safe long-term in a few different, simple methods.

  • Ensure the area is clean. Practice good hygiene and you should have no problems.
  • Protect the tattoo from the sun both with tattoo-friendly sunscreen and protective clothing.
  • Always stay hydrated so that the area doesn’t go back to being itchy or flaky.
  • If you need to apply moisturizer from time to time, don’t be afraid to go back to the tattoo ointment, it won’t do any harm.

As you can see, after the initial stages, tattoos are pretty easy to look after.

Most Common Questions Answered:

Should I let my new tattoo dry out?

It’s possible to use “dry healing” as a method of aftercare for your tattoo, but it is essential that you consider all of the other aspects of aftercare. Otherwise, you can run the risk of your tattoo area getting some nasty scabs, or even permanent scarring as a result. Choosing dry healing for your tattoo area may also be one of the less comfortable approaches. Dryness can quickly become very itchy, or it may even make the tattoo feel like it's burning. If you want to soothe the pain, quality aftercare products are ideal. A dry tattoo is not a good approach to take in most scenarios.

When should I moisturize my new tattoo?

From the second day, you can start to moisturize your tattoo with a thin layer of tattoo-friendly ointment and moisturizer. Do this daily through the healing process, and usually multiple times a day if you feel it getting dry.

Can I leave a new tattoo uncovered?

You need to keep it wrapped in protective film for the initial stages. Your tattoo artist can advise on this, but 1-3 days is usually the minimum that you need to cover the tattoo for.

What are the restrictions after getting a tattoo?

There are multiple restrictions you should abide by when you first get your tattoo:

  • Don’t go swimming, this can risk infection or damage.
  • Choose suitable clothes that allow the area to breathe.
  • Allow a couple of weeks for the healing process.
  • Keep the tattoo clean with simple soap and water.
  • Avoid sun exposure as this can damage the tattoo or make it drier and less vibrant.
  • Moisturize as much as needed.
  • Only use tattoo-friendly products on your ink.

How many days does it take for a tattoo to heal?

The initial healing stage for a tattoo is 2-4 weeks. Your body does most of the healing during this time. However, it is not a complete process after a few weeks and it can take many months for the tattoo to totally heal, so keep an eye on this.

Is it OK to put Vaseline on a tattoo?

In the majority of scenarios, there is no need to put Vaseline on a tattoo. Historically, some artists have recommended this, but really, unless there is a patch of extremely dry skin, Vaseline is not required for your new ink. Other, specialist tattoo ointments usually do a much better job, too. Vaseline is a form of petroleum jelly which can actually trap things in with the tattoo, for instance bacteria. This can cause infections, so you need to be really cautious about what to put on a tattoo and if it could be doing more harm than good.

How long should I leave my tattoo wrapped?

Keep your tattoo wrapped for 1-3 days after you get inked. You can use cling film or a specific tattoo film to achieve this.


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