Tattoo Aftercare Tips

Published on April 2, 2014 by Jodie Michalak

Tattoo aftercare is the last step of the tattooing process, and the first step in encouraging the proper healing of your body art.


Most tattoo artists have their own recommendations for tattoo aftercare, which means things may sometimes seem confusing. It’s no wonder tattoo aftercare is such a widely searched term on the Internet.

You can preserve the beauty of your new art by following these simple and basic aftercare steps.


Tattoo Aftercare Basics


Once your artist has completed his work, he will likely bandage your tattoo and send you home with his instructions, which will likely include leaving the tattoo bandaged for a minimum of two hours, followed by a gentle cleansing.


  1. Lightly cleanse your  tattoo with mild soap and water. Do not use any abrasive sponges or washcloths, instead just lightly tap your fingers onto your skin and rinse the area thoroughly.
  2. Blot your tattoo dry using either a soft towel or paper towels.
  3. Allow your skin to dry thoroughly, and then apply a layer of your artist’s recommended lotion of lubricant. Many artists will suggest over the counter products such as A&D ointment, while  others may request you use Tattoo Goo or any other industry exclusive tattoo aftercare products. Be sure to mention if you have experienced any reactions to these products.
  4. Repeat the above steps for up to three days, several times per day.
  5. During the healing process you should not take baths or immerse in water, which includes swimming.
  6. After three days of applying the recommended moisturizer on your new tattoo, you can switch to the application of a mild lotion such as Lubriderm or Aquaphor to help prevent itching and tattoo scabbing.



Sun Protection


Depending on where your tattoo is located you may need to bandage it if you head outdoors during the early healing weeks, otherwise keep it uncovered.


If you hit the beach with your new tattoo, lightly bandage it and make plans to stay in the shade. Once your tattoo is fully healed, you’ll want to apply a sunscreen with a minimum of an SPF30 to prevent the fading of your body art whenever you venture into the sun.


Proper tattoo aftercare is an essential step in caring for your new tattoo. If you do not follow your tattoo artist’s tattoo aftercare recommendations, they are not likely to take any responsibility in a poorly healed piece of body art. Worse yet, the tattoo may require color fill-ins or even removal if you aren’t diligent in cleansing the fresh wound.


Remember that tattooing is an injury to the skin, and a breeding ground for bacteria. If you do not keep your new tattoo clean and dry, you may develop a very serious skin infection that could even enter your blood stream.


You must be pro-active in every tattoo aftercare step, not only to preserve the beauty of your body art, but to protect your health as well.


Signs of Infection


Are you wondering if your new tattoo is infected? Signs of infection may include redness, irritation, pain, swelling, pus and oozing, and perhaps a slight fever. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or are suffering from headaches or dizziness or have trouble breathing, seek medical treatment immediately.


By following these basic tattoo aftercare steps your new body art has a very good chance of healing quickly while retaining all that beautiful ink your artist just layered into your skin.


So long as you don’t pick your  scabs, let your skin get too dry, or forget to apply a sunscreen each and every time you head outdoors, even the most vibrant and colorful New School tattoo can be worn for years without  color touch-ups, simply by following these basic Old School tattoo aftercare tips.


Images courtesy Dan Bires and Prodigy Ink


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