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Written by Kieran Proctor

Long-Term Tattoo Aftercare

Tattoo

Updated

The initial healing period for a tattoo is 2-3 weeks. That’s 2-3 weeks for the outer layers of skin to heal and during this time, most people will keep up their tattoo aftercare.

Yet, the skin below a tattoo may take 6 months or more to heal properly. And continuing to care for a new tattoo after the initial 2-3 week healing cycle can greatly enhance its color and longevity.

During that first 2-3 week healing cycle, if you forget to put cream on your new tattoo or don’t keep it clean, dry and out of bright sunlight, you’ll get near instant feedback. It’ll begin to itch or you’ll feel pain or get an infection.

But after that initial 2-3 week healing period, the feedback you get for falling behind in your aftercare regiment, is no longer instant. In fact, it can take months or even years, before you’re reminded that you should have looked after your tattoo.

The colors will fade, the lines will begin to look less crisp and the whole thing will blur into a bit of a mess.

Sure, you could go back to your tattooist and pay them more money to touch up the tattoo and make it look new again. But the easier, less painful and cheaper option, is to look after your tattoo the first time around.

Now, when I say you should look after your tattoo beyond the initial 2-3 week healing cycle that all new tattoos go through, I don’t mean that you need to go out of your way to wash it and reapply creams multiple times a day.

To prolong the life of your tattoo and keep it looking crisp, clean and colorful doesn’t require any real effort on your part. There are tattoo specific moisturizers and tattoo specific sun blocks available. Just get yourself some and moisturize the tattoo regularly and use sunblock, when outdoors. Easy.

If you want your tattoo to continue looking fresh, here’s how you should care for your new tattoo well beyond the initial 2-3 week healing cycle. 

Never expose your tattoo to direct sunlight without sunblock

Pretty simple, right? Tattoos are between your layers of skin and the sun can have negative effects on your skin.

The sun in large doses will prematurely age your skin. Getting sunburned can have all kinds of deleterious effects. And these effects extend to your tattoo.

A tattoo specific sunblock should be worn on a regular basis. Anything with a high SPF rating will help prolong the life of your tattoo. And will be a lot healthier for you and your skin over the course of your life, than getting sunburned. So, do wear sunblock when outdoors.

After that initial healing period of 2-3 weeks, it’s okay to go out into the sun and enjoy a day in nature or at the beach. Just remember to use sunblock on your tattoos (and everywhere else). 

tattooed woman wearing sunblock at the beach

Use moisturizer to increase the life of your tattoo

Most men balk at the idea of using moisturizer every day. But you should use moisturizer occasionally. If your skin is all dried out and wrinkly, then so is your tattoo.

Lads, this applies to you more than the ladies. The ladies already use moisturizer in their daily lives. But most guys forget that they too, should be using moisturizer.

The healthier your skin is, the longer your tattoo will continue to look good. Use a basic moisturizer that you’re happy with and use it on a regular basis. Lads, the more often you remember to use moisturizer, the longer your tattoos will continue looking fresh.

Mad Rabbit - Replenish Daily Tattoo Skin Lotion - Tattoo Moisturizer
A moisturizer for tattoos.

Your tattoo will continue to look good for years to come

Using moisturizer and sunblock is all you need to do to care for your tattoo once the initial healing process is done. And the more often you remember to use moisturizer and sunblock, the longer your tattoo will continue to look crisp, fresh and new.

Long term tattoo aftercare is not complicated. And you can even find some moisturizers that have sunblock built in. Which is great for those men who have trouble remembering to use two different creams.

You can simply buy one cream that has both sunblock and moisturizer. Easy.  

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