June 16, 2021 4 min read

You finally got that tattoo you’ve been dreaming of; now what? When you first get your tattoo, it’s bright, colorful, and vivid! Tattoo aftercare is the most critical part of getting a tattoo. It is vital to keeping your tattoo looking great for years to come. 

Tattoo aftercare is also essential to your overall health. You need to take care of your new tattoo to avoid skin infections. Additionally, improper tattoo aftercare can lead to scabbing and scarring that will take away from the beauty of your new piece of art. 

How fast your tattoo heals depends on several factors, such as your age, health, and hygiene. Still, there are several steps you can take to encourage healing and keep your tattoo looking as good as the day you got it. Let’s check it out! 

The Importance of Tattoo Aftercare

Believe it or not, the tattoo process puts a slight strain on your immune system. Getting a tattoo is an invasive cosmetic procedure. That’s why taking care of your tattoo is vital to your health. 

Just as with any other cosmetic procedure, you need to put in the work to help your tattoo heal properly. 

Another great way to encourage tattoo healing is to take some time to prepare for your tattoo in advance. The following steps are important before getting a tattoo:

  • Sleep well the night before. 
  • Don’t drink any alcohol or take any drugs before or during your session. 
  • Eat well before your session. If you’re going to have an extended sitting, bring a few snacks with you to eat during your breaks. 
  • Stay hydrated. 
  • Relax! 

Vital Aftercare Steps for Your New Tattoo

Now that you’ve put in the work to prepare for your tattoo and have finished your appointment, you need to take care of that new piece of art! Here is what to expect immediately after your session is complete:

  1. Your tattooer will cover your new tattoo with a thin layer of petroleum jelly and a bandage. 
  2. Remove the bandage after 24 hours. Gently wash your tattoo with antimicrobial soap, like Dial. Rinse thoroughly with clean, cool water and pat your tattoo dry. Don’t rub it! 
  3. If your tattooer uses regular cling film, take it off three to four hours after getting your tattoo. Wash your tattoo correctly and put a new film on before going to sleep. If they use a special tattoo film, follow the instructions above by removing it after 24 hours. 
  4. After the first 24 hours, your tattoo needs to breathe! Don’t put on another bandage, but continue to apply a thin layer of antibacterial ointment twice a day. 
  5. Wash your tattoo twice a day with antimicrobial soap and cool water. Pat your tattoo dry before reapplying your antibacterial ointment. 
  6. Repeat this process for two to four weeks. Continue to apply moisturizer or ointment to your tattoo to keep it moist until it is fully healed! 

Tattoo Aftercare Tips from the Professionals

In addition to the suggested aftercare treatment, the following tips can help you get the best results with your new piece of art:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your tattoo. You are susceptible to germs and bacteria as your tattoo heals, so follow good hygiene practices. 
  • Expect some swelling after your session. This is your body’s normal reaction to trauma. 
  • Use clean sheets and towels while your tattoo heals. Your tattoo will ooze all sorts of fluids in the first few days of healing. This includes blood, clear plasma, lymphatic fluid, and ink. Choose clean sheets and towels you don’t care about because some of your tattoo ink will transfer and stain them.
  • During the first few days, you should treat your tattoo as an open wound to avoid infection.  
  • Don’t wash your tattoo with a washcloth. Instead, use your hands during the first few weeks. Wash gently but firmly. 
  • Rinse your tattoo with cold to lukewarm water when washing. Hot water could harm your tattoo. 
  • Never dry your tattoo with a shared towel. This can lead to infection. For best results, use a clean, disposable paper towel to dry your tattoo. Make sure your tattoo is thoroughly dry before applying ointment. 
  • When using ointments, don’t use excessive amounts as it can cause problems with your skin. As directed, apply a thin layer. Rub it in, so it isn’t clumped on. 
  • Keep in mind that more extensive tattoos can take longer to heal. If your tattoo doesn’t seem fully healed after 14 days, continue your washing and moisturizing routine for an additional week. 
  • Try not to wear clothes that can stick to your tattoo. They can also transfer germs and bacteria to your tattoo. 
  • Avoid the sun and swimming for at least two weeks as UV rays and chlorine can impact your tattoo. 
  • If your tattoo scabs, don’t pick, scratch, or peel it. This could lead to an infection or remove some of the colors from your tattoo. 
  • Your tattoo may itch while it’s healing. Do your best not to scratch it! Apply cold compresses as needed to relieve discomfort. 
  • Tattoo infections are rare but possible. If you think your tattoo isn’t healing correctly or is infected, contact your primary physician immediately. 
  • Drink lots of water! The more you hydrate, the faster you will heal. Hydration is also great for your skin, so it’ll keep your tattoo looking as vivid as the day you got it. 
  • Even years after your tattoo has healed, it’s critical to use sunscreen with at least 7% zinc oxide during daylight hours to keep your tattoo from fading. 

Trust the Process

Tattoo aftercare may seem like a lot of work. It can be overwhelming to remember all the steps you need to take to keep your new tattoo looking fresh and healing right. Be diligent with your tattooer’s instructions and trust the healing process. Don’t skip any steps with washing or moisturizing, and the results will amaze you! 

As always, all content has been written by CA Tattoo Supply, based on our 30-year experience in tattooing. If you have read this and feel we have left out any pertinent information, please add your personal experiences to the comment section below.