Tattoo Aftercare: How To Take Care of a New Tattoo (Pictures)

Janis

By Janis | Updated December 4, 2023

Getting a new tattoo is an exciting experience, but it’s crucial to know the proper aftercare to ensure your tattoo heals well and stands the test of time. 

Just as you put thought into selecting your design and artist, aftercare is equally important in maintaining the quality and safety of your body art.

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about tattoo aftercare, from the initial healing process to products and precautions. By following these guidelines, you can help prevent complications like infection or scarring and enjoy your ink with confidence.

Tattoo Aftercare During the First 30 Days and Beyond

In the first few hours after getting your tattoo, it will be covered with a bandage. Your artist will guide you on how long to wait before removing it, usually between 2 to 4 hours. 

After removing the bandage, gently clean the tattoo using a mild, fragrance-free soap and water. Pat dry with a clean towel.

Apply a thin layer of ointment, like a specialized tattoo aftercare product, as per your artist’s recommendations. Do this 2-3 times daily during the first week to keep the tattoo moist and promote healing. Refrain from using products containing alcohol or fragrances. 

Keep the tattoo clean and dry throughout the healing process, which can take from 2 to 4 weeks. Wash your hands before touching it, and avoid soaking it in water, such as during baths, swimming, or hot tubs. 

Showering is allowed, but avoid directly spraying water onto the tattoo.

During the healing process, your tattoo may scab or flake. It is essential not to pick or scratch, as doing so can damage the tattoo and prolong the recovery time. Instead, let the scabs and flakes fall off naturally.

After the first week, switch from ointment to a fragrance-free moisturizing lotion. Continue applying it 2-3 times a day until the tattoo is fully healed.

To protect the tattoo in the long term, avoid direct sun exposure during the first 30 days. After that, always apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30 when going outdoors to prevent fading and damage.

Proper aftercare ensures your tattoo remains vibrant and healthy for years to come.

Post-Tattoo Factors and Complications

Tattoos involve injecting ink into your skin, often making your skin prone to various issues such as infections and allergic reactions. Due to this, aftercare becomes crucial in ensuring a healthy healing process.

Location

Location matters, as some parts of your body have more sensitive skin than others. 

Tattoos on areas with thin skin can lead to more discomfort as well as a higher risk of complications.

Sensitive Skin

In the case of sensitive skin, additional precautions are necessary during aftercare. 

Choose gentle, non-irritating products and avoid exposure to skin irritants.

Infections

Infections can result from improper aftercare or contaminated equipment. Keep an eye out for symptoms like fever, chills, and pus. 

Consult a dermatologist if you suspect an infection.

Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions to tattoo ink can cause itchiness and rashes around the tattooed area. These reactions can happen even years after getting a tattoo, so stay aware of any changes in your skin.

Always follow your tattoo artist’s instructions to give your skin the best chance to stay healthy and maintain your tattoo’s quality.

Things to Avoid

When it comes to tattoo aftercare, there are some things you should avoid to ensure proper healing. 

Direct Sun Exposure

First and foremost, stay away from direct sunlight. 

Excessive sun exposure can cause your tattoo to fade prematurely and can also increase your risk of sunburn.

Friction and Skin Abrasion

Avoid tight clothes that may rub against your healing tattoo. Friction from clothing can lead to irritation and slow down the healing process.

Resist the urge to scratch or pick at scabs. Scratching can introduce bacteria and lead to an infection. Instead, apply a soothing moisturizer to relieve itching.

Water Submersion

Steer clear of swimming pools and baths for the first few weeks. 

Submerging your new tattoo in water can cause the ink to blur and possibly lead to an infection.

Irritating Substances

Keep the area clean, but avoid using products containing strong fragrances, which can cause further irritation. An alcohol-free, fragrance-free antibacterial soap is ideal for gently cleaning your tattoo.

If you notice any symptoms of infection or allergy, consult a dermatologist immediately. By following these guidelines, you can ensure your tattoo heals properly and stays looking vibrant for years to come.

Skincare Products for Tattoo Aftercare

It’s crucial to choose the right skincare products to ensure proper healing and longevity of your tattoo. 

Antibacterial Soaps

Begin by selecting a gentle antibacterial soap for cleansing the tattooed area. 

Hypoallergenic soaps are ideal as they’re less likely to cause irritation.

Moisturizers and Ointments

Your tattoo will need adequate hydration to heal well. Opt for a moisturizer specifically designed for tattoo aftercare. This cream will keep your tattoo moisturized and help maintain its vibrancy.

Avoid using petroleum jelly, as it may clog pores and hinder the healing process. Instead, consider a healing ointment or an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment to protect against infections and promote healing.

Tattoo Balms

When choosing a balm to soothe and moisturize your tattoo, look for one that is fragrance-free and contains nourishing ingredients. 

Some key components to look for include:

Shea Butter

Tattoo balms containing shea butter are highly beneficial for tattoo aftercare. Rich in vitamins A and E, shea butter aids in skin healing, moisturizing, and reducing inflammation.

Using balms with shea butter helps in keeping the tattoo vibrant while soothing the skin. 

Cocoa Butter

Cocoa butter is another desired ingredient in tattoo balms due to its high fatty acid content. These essential fats help form a protective layer over the skin, sealing in moisture and aiding in the healing process.

Furthermore, the antioxidant qualities of cocoa butter also help to soothe and recover the skin from the intense tattooing process, keeping your new ink looking fresh and healthy.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is another vital component in tattoo balms due to its soothing and hydrating properties. It helps to alleviate itching and irritation, which is common after getting a tattoo and supports faster healing.

Despite these benefits, some individuals may experience allergic reactions to aloe vera. So, always perform a patch test before applying the product over the entire tattoo, and always choose a balm free from unnecessary additives.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a valuable component of tattoo balms. This helps the skin regenerate and bring back its former appearance.

Known for its restorative properties, it promotes skin healing after a tattoo session, and its antioxidant properties keep the skin healthy.

By incorporating these skincare products into your tattoo aftercare routine, you’ll be on your way to a beautifully healed and vibrant tattoo.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to care for a new tattoo?

To care for a new tattoo, keep it covered with the wrap provided by your tattoo artist for the first 2-4 hours. 

Afterward, gently clean it using mild soap and lukewarm water. Pat it dry and apply a gentle, fragrance-free lotion to keep it moisturized.

How long should the healing process for a new tattoo take?

The healing process for a new tattoo typically takes 2-3 weeks. During this time, the tattooed skin will scab and peel, eventually revealing the final colors and design. 

It’s crucial to follow proper aftercare procedures to ensure optimal healing.

Which products are recommended for tattoo aftercare?

Products for tattoo aftercare should be mild, fragrance-free, and gentle on the skin. 

Some of the recommended products include mild soap, fragrance-free lotion, and ointments. Always consult your tattoo artist for specific recommendations.

What should be avoided during the first week of tattoo care?

During the first week of tattoo care, avoid soaking your tattoo in water (e.g., swimming or bathing), exposing it to direct sunlight, picking at scabs, and applying alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. 

These actions can slow down the healing process and damage your tattoo.

What precautions should be taken during long-term tattoo care?

For long-term tattoo care, continue to use fragrance-free lotion whenever your tattoo feels dry. Protect your tattoo from the sun by using sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher. 

Monitor for signs of infection or complications, and consult a doctor or dermatologist if you have concerns.