How To Take Care Of Your Tattoo in 5 Easy Steps: The Ultimate Guide To Tattoo Aftercare
You just got a new tattoo, you're excited, and you want to make sure your tattoo heals the best way possible, so it stays looking just as beautiful as it does right now. There’s just one small problem… You don’t know the best way to heal your tattoo, plus there is tons of conflicting information out there about proper tattoo aftercare.
Don’t worry, that is precisely why we made this tattoo aftercare guide. We know that finding reliable tattoo aftercare instructions is hard, everybody says something different, recommends different products, and there is tons of misinformation out there.
That is why we used our years of tattoo healing experience, combined with advice from skin care experts to create this guide. We simplify the tattoo aftercare process down to 5 easy steps, and we tell you the exact products we use to heal our own tattoos. This will take all the guesswork out of taking care of your new tattoo and ensure it heals the best way possible.
Step 1: Remove Wrap
After your new tattoo was finished, your tattoo artist probably cleaned it, snapped a picture of it, then they wrapped it. Depending on your tattoo artist and the tattoo shop, they wrapped it with either regular plastic wrap and tape. Or, they used a tattoo specific bandage like Saniderm or Derm Shield.
Either tattoo wrap is perfectly fine, so don’t worry about that. However, how you remove those tattoo wraps is different, and we will go over that below.
Wait 2-4 hours, then remove.
If your tattoo artist used plastic wrap, removal is pretty straightforward, you pull up the tape (this may hurt a bit, especially on the more hairy parts), then you pull the plastic off, and throw it away.
Tattoo Specific Bandage:
Wait about 24 hours, then remove.
If your artist used a tattoo specific bandage, then your removal will be a bit more tricky, but you will definitely be able to handle it. To remove the bandage you will want to run some warm, soapy water on the bandage to get the corners to lift.
Then, you will begin to pull the bandage away from the tattoo, this will result in the bandage slowly lifting off the tattoo. Once the bandage has all been lifted from the tattoo, then simply pull it the rest of the way off and throw it away.
Step 2: Clean
After you remove the tattoo wrap is when the tattoo aftercare really begins, and the first step is to wash your tattoo. When cleaning your tattoo use a gentle soap that is designed for tattoo aftercare. We recommend Ink tattoo aftercare soap. It will not dry out your tattoo like some other soaps, and its ingredients will help nourish the skin and promote healing.
Avoid antibacterial soaps as they can disrupt the skin's microbiome, cause dryness and irritation, and impede the tattoo healing process. (American Academy of Dermatology, 2018), (National Institutes of Health, 2021), (World Health Organization, 2018).
To clean, dispense soap onto your fingertips or directly onto the tattoo. Mix the soap and warm water together lightly over the surface of the tattoo, and rub it gently to clean away any ink, plasma, or debris that may be on your tattoo.
Do not scrub vigorously. Treat your new tattoo just like you would treat any other wound on your body. Just lightly rub and rinse. Once rinsed, you can pat dry the area or allow it to air dry.
Step 3: Apply Lotion
Once you have thoroughly cleaned and rinsed the tattooed area, it is time to apply the tattoo aftercare lotion. We recommend using Ink Premium Tattoo Aftercare Lotions, they are designed specifically for tattoos and they come in 3 different blends, so you will always have the perfect lotion for your tattoo. Plus, they are made with natural ingredients that nourish your skin and promote healing.
If you are in a pinch you can use other aftercare products, but make sure to avoid any products that contain petroleum. Petroleum will clog pores, cause itchiness, impede the healing process, along with a host of other problems.(American Academy of Dermatology, 2020), Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2016), (International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 2015).
Again, we recommend Ink Tattoo Aftercare Products, they were designed by tattoo artists and skin care experts for healing tattoos, and they are the same aftercare products we use to heal our tattoos.
Apply a thin layer of aftercare lotion to your tattoo and the area surrounding it, and rub lotion in gently. Do not over apply lotion, more does not mean better or that your tattoo will heal faster, a thin layer is all you will need. If you do happen to over apply the lotion, don’t worry, just rub the excess lotion into the surrounding skin and you’ll be good to go.
Basically, you will just apply the tattoo aftercare lotion to your tattoo, the same way you would apply regular lotion to your skin. Don’t overthink it.
Step 4: Ongoing Aftercare
Ongoing tattoo aftercare will continue for the next 10-14 days, or until your tattoo is fully healed. And it is easy, you won’t be doing anything that you haven't done already, you simply continue to clean and moisturize your new tattoo until it is fully healed.
1-3 times daily for 10-14 days
Continue cleaning your tattoo daily with a tattoo aftercare specific soap when you shower, and as needed. Continue this for 10-14 days, then after that resume your normal routine. There is no need to overdo it with washing, just like any wound you should be gentle when applying soap and cleaning.
3-5 times daily for 10-14 days
Continue applying tattoo aftercare lotions 3-5 times daily, or as needed for dryness. You will do this daily for 10-14 days, or until your tattoo is fully healed. Apply a thin layer of lotion, and then rub it in thoroughly. You can switch to a lighter tattoo aftercare lotion after about 7 days if you want. However, this is not necessary to heal your tattoo.
A critical part of proper tattoo aftercare is knowing what to avoid, this includes, but it is not limited to the following:
- Scratching, picking, or peeling, your new tattoo
- Swimming in pools, oceans, hot tubs, etc. (check out our article about swimming while healing tattoo by clicking here)
- Prolonged direct sunlight
- Tight clothing that may rub against your healing tattoo
- Any direct trauma to the tattooed area, including being tattooed again before it has fully healed
Step 5: Maintain Your Tattoo
You have made it. You didn’t think you could do it, but you did. You healed your tattoo like a pro, and it looks awesome! Give yourself a high five, it can be very nerve wracking healing your tattoo, but you made it through it. Bravo!
But what now?
What is my tattoo aftercare, aftercare…?
If you healed your new tattoo following the steps above, not much. You will just treat the tattooed area as you would any other piece of your skin, and you will be able to maintain an awesome looking tattoo for years to come.
- Keep it moisturized
- Avoid sunburns
- Avoid harsh soaps and damaging lotions
- And that's pretty much it.
Oh yeah! There is one more step….
The most important step of all….
Figure out what your next tattoo is going to be! And, if you need help click here to check out some awesome tattoo inspiration articles.
Tattoo Aftercare FAQS:
How long after getting a tattoo can I workout?
You can generally workout the next day after being tattooed as long as you are not in pain, getting the tattoo dirty, rubbing or damaging the tattoo, and following proper tattoo aftercare instructions. (To learn more about working out after getting a tattoo check out this article by clicking here.)
What do I do if my tattoo gets itchy?
When it gets itchy, resist the scratch. If you feel like you need some relief just give it a firm pat/slap. Itchiness usually happens from dryness, and dryness is usually a result of improper tattoo aftercare, or using improper tattoo aftercare products.
So, make sure to follow the tattoo aftercare steps outlined above, and to use the right tattoo aftercare products.
What to do if my tattoo looks and feels “mushy”?
If your tattoo looks or feels this way it means you are over-saturating your tattoo. This can happen from over applying a tattoo aftercare ointment, especially a petroleum based tattoo aftercare product.
Switch your tattoo aftercare product to a lighter tattoo specific aftercare product like Ink premium aftercare lotions, these were designed to not oversaturate your new tattoo, and will help remedy this issue.
What do I do if my tattoo is very dry and cracked?
New tattoo dryness can come from a variety of things including: Using antibacterial soaps or harsh soaps, using a bad aftercare product, not using enough tattoo aftercare, etc.
The solution is simple: ensure your new tattoo is moisturized. To do this follow the tattoo aftercare steps outlined above, and make sure you are using high quality, tattoo specific aftercare products, like Ink Premium Tattoo aftercare products.
What do I do if my tattoo has small white bumps?
The most common reason for small white bumps on a tattoo is clogged pores and/or dryness. This happens from using a petroleum based tattoo aftercare product. This can be prevented by using a tattoo specific aftercare lotion like Ink, which is designed to not clog pores when healing a tattoo. And, by using a gentle tattoo specific soap.
If there are any other tattoo aftercare related questions you have, ask them in the comments below, and we will answer them as they come in.
And, we also have a quick reference tattoo aftercare guide that you can download below while clicking
That should cover how to heal your tattoo and tattoo aftercare in general. Let me know if there is something we didn’t cover or any other tattoo topics you were wondering about in the comments section below.