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Written by Kieran Proctor

Caring For Your New Tattoo: A Comprehensive Guide To Tattoo Aftercare And Healing



Tattoo Aftercare

So, you’ve just finished getting your brand-new tattoo and you’re buzzing with excitement! But hold on a sec – now comes the important bit: taking care of your new ink.

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with this fun and easy-to-understand guide to tattoo aftercare. We’ve even thrown in some of the commonly asked questions as subheadings to keep things interesting.

Ready to dive in? Let’s go!

What’s The First Thing To Do After Getting A Tattoo?

Congratulations on your new tattoo! You’ve just received a stunning piece of art, that you will carry with you for a lifetime. It’s an exciting moment and it’s natural to want to show off your new ink as soon as possible. But before you do, there are a few important steps you need to follow to ensure your tattoo looks its best for years to come.

The first thing to do after getting a tattoo, is to leave the protective covering on until you get home. Your artist will have covered your new ink with either cling film (saran wrap) or a special bandage. This layer of protection is crucial for keeping your tattoo clean and preventing any infection from getting into your fresh wound on your way home.

Once you’re home, it’s time to remove the covering. And you should first give your hands a good wash with warm soapy water. This will help eliminate any bacteria that may have accumulated on your hands.

When removing the saran wrap bandage, be sure to do it gently to avoid pulling or irritating the skin around your tattoo. The bandage will sometimes stick to the new tattoo. Particularly if you’ve left it on for too long.

If your bandage is stuck to your new tattoo, you can loosen and remove it under running water. Hop into a luke warm (tepid) shower with the bandage still on. And remove the bandage gently under the running water.

Once the bandage is off, you should clean your new tattoo with a mild fragrance free soap. Ideally using a tattoo specific soap. Ensure the slimy feel that the new tattoo had is gone.

But don’t spend too long under the water. As soon as the tattoo feels like the slime coat is gone, hop out and gently pat your new tattoo dry with a clean towel.

Apply a professional tattoo cream as soon as the excess water is removed to prevent the tattoo from drying out and cracking. Drying out, scabbing and cracking causes ink drop.

Tattoo Aftercare Shower

How Do I Clean My New Tattoo?

Once you have removed the protective layer it’s time to clean your new tattoo. It is essential to use lukewarm water and a mild unscented soap.

Make sure the soap is gentle and does not contain any harsh chemicals that can damage your skin or affect the color of your tattoo. A mild unscented tattoo soap is also less likely to cause an allergic reaction or irritation to your skin.

Gently wash the tattooed area with your fingertips. Avoid using any rough or abrasive material that can damage the delicate skin around your new ink.

Be gentle while washing your tattoo – no scrubbing! Rubbing or scrubbing too hard can cause irritation, inflammation and scabbing which can damage your tattoo.

Once you have given your new tattoo a good clean, pat it dry with a clean towel or let it air dry. Remember, your new tattoo is basically an open wound so it’s essential to treat it with care. Avoid using any cloth or towel that may cause irritation or harbor bacteria.

It is also essential to clean your tattoo at least twice a day. Particularly during the healing process. A clean tattoo is less likely to get infected and is more likely to heal quickly. A dirty tattoo on the other hand, can lead to complications such as scarring, inflammation and infection.

Mad Rabbit - Tattoo Safe Soap - Cleansing New Tattoo Soap
Specialized tattoo soaps.

What’s The Best Way To Keep My Tattoo Moisturized?

One crucial aspect of tattoo aftercare is keeping your tattoo from drying out, scabbing and cracking. Because, if your new tattoo drys out you’re more likely to experience ink drop. Here are some tips on the best way to keep your tattoo moisturized:

Use A Tattoo-Specific Aftercare Cream: Your tattoo artist may recommend a specific product for you to use to protect your new tattoo. Make sure you choose a tattoo-specific cream, as it is formulated specifically for tattoo aftercare. Tattoo aftercare creams and salves act as a barrier coat to protect your new tattoo.

Apply The Tattoo Aftercare Creams Regularly: During the healing process, it’s essential to apply the tattoo aftercare cream or slave regularly. Your tattoo artist may give you specific instructions on how often to apply aftercare products. Though in general, you should apply it at least two to three times a day. Or as often as necessary to keep up the barrier coat.

Use A Thin Layer: When applying tattoo aftercare products, you should use a thin layer. Proper tattoo aftercare products aren’t designed to be absorbed. They act as a barrier coat on top of the new tattoo. A thick layer of cream can clog your pores, trap bacteria and will just be sticky and greasy.

Avoid Fragranced Products: When choosing a tattoo aftercare cream, you should avoid products that contain fragrances or other additives that can irritate your skin. Fragranced products can cause allergic reactions, redness and itching which can damage your new tattoo.

Stay Hydrated: Keeping your body hydrated is also important for keeping your tattoo moisturized. Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated, can help to improve your skin’s overall health and reduce dryness.

Mad Rabbit - New Tattoo Repair Soothing Gel

How Do I Protect My Tattoo From The Sun?

When your tattoo is healing, it’s super important to keep it out of direct sunlight. Sunburn can damage your new ink and make it fade more quickly.

Keep Your Tattoo Out of Direct Sunlight: When your tattoo is healing, it’s crucial to keep it out of direct sunlight. Exposing your new ink to the sun’s harmful UV rays can cause it to fade or become discolored. If you must go outside, you should wear loose clothing that covers the tattooed area. Or use a bandage to protect it.

Wait Until Your Tattoo Is Fully Healed: It’s essential to wait until your tattoo is fully healed before exposing it to the sun. The healing process can take up to several weeks depending on the size and location of your tattoo. Once your tattoo is fully healed, it’s safe to expose it to the sun.

Use High SPF Sunscreen: When your tattoo is exposed to the sun after it’s healed, you should make sure to use a high SPF sunscreen to protect it. Choose a tattoo specific broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 for best effect. Apply the sunscreen to your tattoo 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours. And reapply it more often, if you are sweating or swimming.

Avoid Tanning Beds: Tanning beds can be even more harmful to your tattoo than natural sunlight. The UV rays emitted by tanning beds can cause your tattoo to fade, discolor or even become damaged. Avoid tanning beds at all costs. Particularly during the healing process.

Moisturize Your Tattoo Regularly: Moisturizing your tattoo regularly can help to protect it from the sun’s harmful rays. Dry skin is more susceptible to sun damage. So once healed, you should keep your tattoo moisturized with a tattoo-specific moisturizer.

Mad Rabbit - Replenish Daily Tattoo Skin Lotion - Tattoo Moisturizer

What Should I Avoid Doing After Getting A Tattoo?

There are a few things you should definitely avoid doing when you’ve got a new tattoo:

  • Don’t go swimming in pools, lakes or the ocean. The water can contain bacteria that might infect your new ink.
  • Avoid soaking in baths or hot tubs. Showers are best for keeping your tattoo clean while it heals.
  • Don’t scratch or pick at your tattoo. It’s normal for it to feel itchy. But scratching can damage your new ink, cause scarring and ink drop.
  • Stay away from tight clothing that might rub against your tattoo. Loose fitting breathable clothing is best for the healing process.
tattoo aftercare product

When Will My Tattoo Be Fully Healed?

The healing process for a tattoo can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks. Yet this depends on the size and complexity of your design. And the underlying layers of skin can take upto 6 months to fully heal.

During this time, your tattoo will go through a few different stages:

  • Days 1-6: Your tattoo might be red, swollen and tender. This is totally normal – it’s just your body’s way of healing the wound.
  • Days 7-14: Your tattoo will start to peel and it might feel super itchy. Resist the urge to scratch or pick at it!
  • Days 15-30: The final stage of healing! Your tattoo should be fully healed on the surface by now. But it might still look a little cloudy or dull. Don’t worry – this is just the last layers of dead skin cells and it’ll soon flake off to reveal your bright and beautiful ink underneath.

Remember, everyone’s body is different and your tattoo might take more or less time to heal than someone else’s. Just follow our aftercare tips and you’ll have a stunning tattoo that lasts a lifetime!

Pro Tip: When your tattoo itches, lightly tap it with 2 (clean) fingers. Tapping your new tattoo will make make the itching sensation fade.

Tattoo Aftercare Fresh Ink

How Can I Keep My Tattoo Looking Fresh In The Long Run?

Once your tattoo is fully healed, it’s important to take care of it so that it stays looking amazing for years to come. Here are a few tips:

  • Keep your skin moisturized. Dry skin can make your tattoo look dull. So make sure to apply a fragrance-free lotion regularly. Regular supermarket moisturisers are fine to use after the first 2-4 week healing process is complete. Though tattoo specific products are better.
  • Always use sunscreen on your tattoo when you’re out in the sun. UV rays can fade your ink over time. So protect it with a high SPF sunscreen. Ideally one that is designed for tattoos.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eating well, staying hydrated and exercising can all help to keep your skin in top condition. Which means your tattoo will look its best too!

Taking care of your new tattoo is super important for making sure it stays looking fabulous for years to come. Just follow this easy-to-understand Tattoo Aftercare Guide and you’ll be well on your way to rocking a stunning piece of body art that you can be proud of.

So, what are you waiting for. Go and show off your new ink and enjoy the compliments – you’ve earned them!

Tattoo AfterCare FAQ

Do blackout tattoos heal differently?

The aftercare routine and requirements for large blackwork or blackout tattoos are similar to that of any other style of tattoo. But due to the larger area that a tattooist can cover in a single tattoo session, the aftercare requirements are slightly more involved. And a blackout will take slightly longer to heal after each tattoo session.

For a full run down on how to care for a blackout tattoo, see my article on blackout tattoo healing and aftercare. It’s based on my own experience healing my own blackout tattoo sleeve.

Can I use a tattoo numbing cream while my tattoo is healing, if it hurts?

It’s best not to use tattoo numbing products during the healing stages of your tattoo. If you have persistent pain or pain that increases in severity after your tattoo session, you should consult your tattooist. And if necessary, seek medical guidance.

Can I dry heal my new tattoo?

Dry healing can work for micro tattoos and fine line works. But it’s not recommended for larger tattoo pieces or more involved styles, such as blackwork. Dry healing can lead to ‘ink drop‘ if attempted with larger tattoos.

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