When it comes to tattoo aftercare, there is really no perfect method.

That said, your new body art required an investment of your time and money — you’ll definitely want to take care of it.

Tattoo aftercare is a pretty straightforward process, but there’s still a pretty useful list of do’s and don’ts for healing your brand new tattoo. There are some steps you need to take to be sure that it turns out to be everything you imagined over the long term.

The Critical Time — What to Do On Day 1

Let me help you get started with the proper aftercare for your tattoo right off the bat so that it heals properly and turns out looking fantastic.

The following are the best tips for what to do and not do on the first day wearing your amazing new body art:

What to Do With That Nasty Bandage

Your tattoo artist will bandage the fresh artwork.

Here’s your first challenge when it comes to tattoo aftercare — keep the bandage on for about 2 hours, but no more than 5 hours. You’re trying to hit this prime-time window.

It’s important to keep your new tattoo protected initially, but it actually has to begin drying to heal properly, so leaving it on too long isn’t that great an idea.

Get It Clean, But Wash Carefully

Wash the area with warm water and antibacterial soap — orange Dial soap is best as it contains NO PERFUMES OR DYES.

Lather the soap in your hand and gently wash the affected area.

Whatever you do, there’s to be no scrubbing, no washcloths, and no loofahs — scrubbing on a new tattoo is absolutely taboo.

Very gently blot it dry with a clean paper towel. Don’t be alarmed if you see some ink on the paper — it’s normal for some excess ink will slough off in the early going.

Don’t Slather It, Moisturize It

Apply small amount of unmedicated ointment, such as Aquaphor. Let me repeat that — only use a small amount so that it forms a thin film over the inked area.

Don’t use an antibacterial ointment, like Neosporin, and, although there are some specialty products like tattoo aftercare lotions or creams on the market, you don’t really need them.

You can probably see, at this point, that common sense is the key to the whole tattoo healing process.

Keep That Artwork Clean — Stage 2

Wash the fresh tattoo area twice per day before applying the thin Aquaphor layer.

You’re going to need to continue this cycle for 3-5 days, then switch from Aquaphor to an unscented lotion such as Lubriderm.

Always use a small amount of lotion — too much prevents your new tattoo from healing.

On that note, you’re going to see the tattoo peel slightly, and this is entirely normal.

Your Tattoo Is Almost Healed — Stage 3

There are still a couple of things you need to take care about as the days go by:

  • Avoid direct sunlight — it can fade your new tattoo
  • Avoid submerging your tattoo for two weeks — showers are fine, but do not scrub

Here’s one more tip that’s really important when it comes to tattoo healing:


Keep it moisturized and the scabs will slough eventually. The scabs will be the color of the tattoo — there’s no need to panic. It normally takes 2-4 weeks for a tattoo to completely heal.

Tattoo Healing and Aftercare — Common Sense

Now that we’re pretty well done, I’d like to summarize this all for you once more: Tattoo aftercare all comes down to a common rule of treating the new tattoo gently.

The ink just under your skin is going to be pretty fragile for a little while.

It’s art.

Picture your skin as a delicate canvas, and your tattoo as a painting — you need to treat in much the same way.

Gentle treatment with common sense are the keys to tattoo healing and aftercare.

Ask Questions About Tattoo Aftercare Up Front

Make sure you’re clear on the instructions on how to care for your new tattoo before you leave the shop.

Rest assured, a decent artist isn’t just going to ink you up and then kick you out. Ask any follow-up questions you need to, and remember that you don’t really need to purchase any fancy tattoo healing or aftercare products.

Fill out our contact form and let’s talk about a free consultation. We can discuss both your upcoming work and your tattoo aftercare concerns — click here.