Here’s What You Really Need to Know About Caring for Your New Tattoo 


Getting a new tattoo feels exciting but the excitement will not last long without proper aftercare. The healing process of a tattoo might take 2-3 weeks depending on the size, location, and design. So, you must know how to treat the fresh tattoo throughout the weeks. Otherwise, you may experience difficulties like delayed healing, irritation, allergic reactions, and other damage to your skin.

Keep scrolling for the most useful tips and tricks for proper aftercare and to ensure you have a long-lasting and vibrant tattoo.

How Is the Healing Process of New Tattoos Related to Aftercare?

The healing process of a new tattoo is divided into several stages, each of which is essential to ensure proper healing. Chances are you can make mistakes during these stages without proper knowledge of tattoo aftercare. So, let’s store some useful knowledge.

  1. Inflammation
    • This is the first stage of healing, which usually lasts for a few days. During this stage, the area around the tattoo will be red and swollen.
    • In case you experience extremely annoying redness or swelling on the tattooed skin, you can ice the area for 15-20 minutes. But this might slow the healing process, so try this only if the swelling is unbearable.
    • Also, don’t apply ice directly on the skin, use a clean towel or something as a barrier.
  2. Peeling
    • After the inflammation subsides, the skin around the tattoo will start to peel, similar to a sunburn. This is a natural part of the healing process and the peeling may take 1 week for smaller tattoos and 2 weeks for larger ones.
    • Which aftercare products are needed during this time? Well, nothing special, really. Instead, you should trust this natural healing response and refrain from picking the peel or scratching the tattoo. Cleaning the tattoo and using a gentle moisturizer will keep your skin germ-free and hydrated throughout the time.
  3. Scabbing
    • As the skin continues to heal, it will scab over (generally, tattoos scab after the first 3 days), which can be uncomfortable but is necessary for the healing process. So, don’t get upset seeing normal, light tattoo scabbing.
    • Keep the tattooed area clean and use a tiny amount of moisturizer (don’t keep the scab wet). Also, avoid scratching or rubbing the scab if you want to avoid further damage. If you notice something like scab bleeds during the healing process, consult with your tattoo artist.
  4. Fading
    • Over time, the tattoo may appear to fade slightly. This is a natural part of the healing process, and the color will typically return to normal after a few weeks.

Initial Tattoo Aftercare

After getting a tattoo, it’s important to go through a well-maintained initial tattoo aftercare process. Start the process by removing the bandage from your tattoo and then begin taking care of your tattoo as suggested below. The aftercare process is a must-follow activity for the next 2 weeks when your tattoo will go through several healing stages.

  1. Bandage Removal
    • After getting a new tattoo, the artist will cover it with a bandage to protect it from bacteria and other contaminants. This bandage should be left on for at least two to three hours, but no longer than 12 hours.
    • When removing the bandage, it is important to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. Gently peel off the bandage, taking care not to pull or tear at the tattoo.
  2. Washing the tattoo
    • After removing the bandage, it is important to wash the tattoo gently with a mild, fragrance-free soap and warm water. Use your hand to wash the area, taking care not to use a washcloth or scrub too hard, as this can damage the tattoo.
    • Rinse the tattoo with warm water and pat it dry with a clean towel or paper towel.
  3. Drying the Tattoo
    • After washing the tattoo, it is important to allow it to air dry for a few minutes. This will help to prevent infection and ensure that the skin is completely dry before applying any ointment or moisturizer.
  4. Application of an Ointment
    • Once the tattoo is dry, apply a thin layer of ointment to the area.
    • There are many different types of ointments available, but it is important to choose one that is specifically designed for tattoo aftercare. Make sure the ointment is gentle enough to your skin and fragrance-free. Some of the most popular ointments for tattoo aftercare include Aquaphor, A&D Ointment, and Bacitracin.
    • Apply the ointment 2-3 times a day or as recommended by your tattoo artist. It’s also important not to over-moisturize the tattoo. 

Essential Aftercare Tips

Proper aftercare is crucial to ensure the longevity and vibrancy of your new tattoo. Here are some essential tips to follow:

  1. Avoid Direct Sunlight and Water
    • During the healing process, it is important to avoid direct sunlight and water, as these can damage the tattoo and increase the risk of infection. Avoid spending prolonged periods of time in the sun.
    • Protect your tattoo by using gentle sunscreen but make sure you start using it once the tattoo is fully healed (after 4-6 weeks of getting the tattoo).
    • Avoid swimming until the tattoo is fully healed because the chemicals in pool water are not great for a new tattoo.
  2. Don’t Pick or Peel Your Skin
    • Picking at scabs or peeling skin can damage the tattoo and increase the risk of infection. Let the tattoo heal naturally, and do not scratch or pick at it.
  3. Wear Loose Clothing
    • Wearing loose clothing will prevent the tattoo from rubbing against clothing and other objects, which can cause irritation or damage to the design. Also, excessive rubbing from tight clothing can slow down the healing process and increase the risk of infection.
  4. Refrain from Physical Activities
    • During the healing process, it is important to avoid strenuous physical activities that could cause excessive sweating or rubbing against the tattoo. Extensive gym activities or playing basketball fall into this category.

Aftercare Products

Choosing the right products for tattoo aftercare can make a significant difference in the healing process. Here are some popular products for tattoo aftercare:

  1. Recommended Ointments and Creams
    • Aquaphor, A&D Ointment, Bacitracin, and Hustle Butter are some of the most popular ointments and creams for tattoo aftercare. These products contain vitamins and minerals that help to moisturize and protect the skin.
  2. Alternative Products Such as Coconut Oil and Vitamin E Oil
    • Coconut oil and vitamin E oil are natural products that are known for their moisturizing and healing properties. These products can help to reduce inflammation and promote faster healing.
  3. Cleaning Products Such as Mild Soap and Saline Solution
    • Mild soap and saline solution are gentle cleaning products that can help to keep the tattoo clean and prevent infection. Use a fragrance-free soap and warm water to gently wash the tattoo, or apply a saline solution to the area using a clean cotton ball.

What If You Notice Signs of Tattoo Infection?

While tattoo infections are relatively rare, it is important to be aware of the signs which can include: excessive redness, swelling, pus, fever, and aching. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

A medical professional will be able to diagnose the infection and provide treatment, which may include antibiotics or other medications. Listen to your medical professional first and foremost and apply any prescribed treatments. In the meantime, here are some steps you can take to treat an infected tattoo:

  1. Clean the Infected Area
    • Use mild soap and warm water to gently clean the infected area, and apply a sterile bandage to protect it from further contamination.
  2. Avoiding Scratching or Rubbing the Tattoo
    • Scratching or rubbing the infected tattoo can worsen the infection and damage the design. Avoid touching the area and keep it clean and dry.

Final Takeaway

Taking care of your new tattoo is crucial to ensure proper healing and reduce the risk of complications. By following these essential aftercare tips and choosing the right products, you can ensure that your tattoo remains vibrant and beautiful for years to come.

Remember to avoid direct sunlight and water, refrain from picking or scratching the tattoo, and seek medical attention if you suspect an infection. With proper aftercare, you can enjoy your new tattoo for a lifetime.

Sign up for your weekly dose of beauty and brains.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Lisa Moreno

Lisa Moreno is a professional tattoo artist who runs her own shop. She is passionate about tattoo art and uses the human body as her canvas to create meaningful and beautiful pieces of art. Lisa has a deep understanding of the human form and spends years perfecting her craft, starting as an apprentice and gradually refining her skills. She is committed to getting to know her clients and their stories to create the perfect tattoo for each individual. She created the website InkRevolt to share her experiences as a tattoo artist and provide information and product reviews to help others.

More from Lisa Moreno


We’re a tease, but we always deliver.

Sign up for your weekly dose of beauty and brains.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.