The Do’s and Don’ts of Tattoo Aftercare

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A tattoo holds more significance than just being a form of artistic expression or a reflection of personal style. It encompasses a medical aspect as well, as the tattoo artist utilizes a needle to intricately insert ink beneath the surface of your skin.

But here’s the deal: whenever you mess with your skin like that, you’re opening yourself up to all sorts of potential problems like scarring and infections. That’s why taking care of your tattoo is super important. And guess what? You and your tattoo artist both have a role to play in this whole healing process. It’s not just on them to make it look good, it’s on you to take care of it too.

Now, here’s where things can get tricky. Some states don’t even require tattoo artists to give you aftercare instructions. And even if they do, it’s usually up to the artist to decide what info to dish out. Kinda wild, right? So, it’s on you to figure out how to handle your fresh ink once you leave the parlor.

How to care for your tattoo

Aftercare starts as soon as your tattoo is done.

Cover up

Alright, listen up! After you get inked, your artist should slap on some antibiotic ointment on your fresh tattoo and wrap it up with a bandage or plastic wrap. This little setup is important because it keeps nasty bacteria away from your skin and stops your new art from rubbing against your clothes and causing irritation.

Now, here’s the deal: you gotta keep that dressing on for as long as your tattoo artist tells you to, which could be a few hours. It’s gonna soak up any fluids or extra ink that might leak out of your tattoo. So don’t be in a rush to peel it off, alright? Let it do its thing.

How to Gently wash tattoos

Alright, here’s the next step in the tattoo care routine, and it’s all about keeping things clean. Once you’ve given your tattoo some time to settle in that bandage or wrap, it’s time for a gentle wash.

Now, pay attention and listen up, because you don’t want to mess this part up. Grab a mild, fragrance-free soap and some lukewarm water. We’re talking about a gentle touch here, no need to go all rough and tough on your fresh ink.

Lather up that soap in your clean hands, making sure it’s nice and sudsy. Gently, and I mean gently, wash your tattooed area with your soapy hands. No need for scrubbing or rubbing like you’re in a wrestling match. Treat your tattoo with care, my friend.

Once you’ve covered every nook and cranny, rinse off the soap thoroughly with lukewarm water. Don’t leave any residue behind. And here’s a pro tip: pat your tattoo dry with a clean, soft towel. None of that rough towel action, alright? Be kind to your fresh ink.

Wait for it to heal

While your tattoo to be better state or heal, you should:

  • wear sun-protective clothing whenever you go outside
  • call your tattoo artist or doctor if you experience any symptoms of infection or other problems

You shouldn’t:

  • cover your tattoo with sunblock until it’s fully healed
  • scratch or pick at the tattoo
  • wear tight clothing over the tattoo
  • go swimming or immerse your body in water (showers are fine)

Tattoo Aftercare Products

  • Use a mild, fragrance-free soap or a tattoo-specific cleanser to clean the tattooed area.
  • Recommended soap options: Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar, Liquid Neutrogena, Dial Gold Antibacterial Deodorant Bar Soap (although not fragrance-free, it is often recommended by tattoo artists).
  • For the first day or two, use an ointment like A+D Original Ointment, Aquaphor Healing Ointment, or a product recommended by your tattoo artist.
  • Avoid 100% petroleum-based products like Vaseline, as they can cause ink fading.
  • Exception: Vaseline may be helpful during showers to protect the tattoo from water.
  • Vaseline may also be useful on healed tattoos or exceptionally dry skin surrounding the tattoo.
  • Apply a thin layer of ointment or moisturizer to allow the skin to breathe.
  • After 2 days, switch to a regular fragrance-free and alcohol-free moisturizer.
  • Recommended moisturizer options: Lubriderm Daily Moisture Fragrance-Free Lotion, Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion for Dry Skin, Curél Fragrance-Free Lotion, Eucerin Intensive Repair Lotion.
  • Avoid moisturizers with additives like colored dye that could dry out the skin.
  • Proper care will help your tattoo remain vibrant and beautiful.

Coconut Oil and Tattoo Aftercare

Coconut oil is often touted as a natural remedy for tattoo aftercare. It has several benefits that make it appealing for fresh ink. Firstly, coconut oil is highly moisturizing, which is crucial for the healing process of a tattoo. It helps keep the skin hydrated and prevents excessive dryness. Additionally, coconut oil is known for its pleasant tropical scent and natural properties, making it an attractive choice for those who prefer natural products.

It may also offer anti-inflammatory effects due to the presence of lauric acid, which can help soothe redness and swelling around the tattooed area. However, it’s important to note that some individuals may be allergic to coconut oil, so a patch test is advisable before applying it to the tattoo.

While coconut oil can be a beneficial addition to your aftercare routine, it should not replace following the basic aftercare guidelines provided by your tattoo artist, such as using a gentle soap for cleaning, avoiding sun exposure, and proper moisturization. Always consult with your tattoo artist for personalized advice based on your specific tattoo and healing process.

Dry Healing

In this method, you skip the moisturizer and embrace a different approach to aftercare. Now, hold on tight, because it’s a bit controversial.

With dry healing, you follow all the other standard steps, like staying away from the sun and keeping your tattoo clean. But here’s the kicker: no moisturizer allowed. Proponents of dry healing argue that by avoiding moisturizers, which can contain artificial ingredients, you reduce the risk of skin irritation or allergic reactions. However, it’s worth noting that without moisturizing, you might be more prone to itching.

Now, before you dive headfirst into the dry healing trend, it’s crucial to have a chat with your tattoo artist. They’re the experts and can guide you on whether dry healing is suitable for your specific tattoo and skin type. They’ll weigh the pros and cons and provide personalized advice to ensure your tattoo heals beautifully.

Remember, when it comes to aftercare, what works for one person may not work for another. So, keep an open mind, consult with your tattoo artist, and make an informed decision.

Potential side effects and Complications of Tattoos

For the first few days after you get your tattoo, your skin may be red, itchy, and sore. You may notice excess ink, along with blood and fluid, leaking from your skin. This is normal.

If you begin experiencing symptoms of any of the following complications, see your doctor;


Taking care of your tattoo is no joke because if you neglect it, infections can creep in and wreak havoc. Picture this: infected skin that’s all red, warm, and painful, and even leaking pus. Yikes!

But wait, there’s more. If the equipment or ink used by your artist was contaminated, you might be at risk of bloodborne infections like hepatitis B, hepatitis C, tetanus, or even HIV. Yeah, it’s serious stuff.

And here’s a chilling fact: there have been cases of other infections, like those nontuberculous mycobacterial skin infections, being transmitted through tattoos. It’s enough to make you shudder.

Allergic Reaction

Listen up, because here’s the scoop on tattoo ink and potential skin reactions. If you happen to be sensitive to the ink your artist used, brace yourself for a possible red and itchy skin reaction right at the tattoo site. According to a nifty study from 2019, it turns out that red dyes are the biggest culprits when it comes to triggering allergic reactions. Those pesky reds, blues, and blacks aren’t just causing allergic woes though. They can also stir up nonallergic skin reactions like photosensitivity, making your skin more prone to sun-related shenanigans.

So, before you dive into getting inked, it’s worth considering your skin’s potential sensitivity to specific ink colors. Do your homework, talk to your tattoo artist, and make an informed decision. After all, you want your tattoo experience to be all about fabulous art and self-expression, without any itchy surprises.


Damage from the needle or from picking at the tattoo can cause your body to produce scar skin. Scars can be permanent.

Long-term tattoo aftercare tips

Once your tattoo has healed, you move into maintenance mode. Though you don’t have to specifically care for it after 3 or 4 months, there are things you can do to prevent the ink from degrading.

Tips for long-term tattoo aftercare

Let’s break it down for some straightforward tattoo care tips:

  1. Stay squeaky clean: Keep your skin fresh and clean by washing it daily with a gentle, fragrance-free soap. It’s all about maintaining that pristine canvas.
  2. Hydration is key: Keep your skin hydrated from the inside out by drinking plenty of water. Moisturized skin helps your tattoo heal and look its best.
  3. Guard against the sun: Protect your tattoo from the sun’s harmful rays by wearing SPF clothing. Sun exposure can fade and damage your tattoo over time, so keep it covered and shielded.
  4. Choose your wardrobe wisely: Be mindful of what you wear to avoid any potential harm to your tattoo. Scratchy fabrics like wool can irritate and potentially damage the artwork, so opt for soft and gentle materials.
  5. Steady on the scale: Try to maintain a stable weight to prevent any stretching or distortion of your tattoo. Significant weight gain or loss can impact the appearance and integrity of your ink, so aim for a healthy balance.

By following these simple guidelines, you’ll give your tattoo the best chance to shine and stay looking fantastic for years to come. Keep it clean, stay hydrated, dress smart, and be mindful of your body—your tattoo will thank you for it!

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