13 Tattoo Care Tips: Quick and Easy Steps for a Flawless Tattoo

Taking care of a new tattoo is crucial to keeping it looking great and preventing infections. How do you make sure your new ink stays vibrant and heals properly? You’ll find that proper aftercare is easier than you think with the right advice.

A tattoo artist carefully applies ointment to a freshly inked design, following 13 tattoo care tips. The vibrant colors and intricate lines stand out against the skin

We’ve gathered 13 essential tips to help you navigate this process, from cleaning and moisturizing to avoiding certain activities that might affect your tattoo. These steps will ensure your tattoo heals beautifully and lasts a long time.

1. Clean often with antibacterial soap

You must clean your new tattoo daily. This is super important, especially in the first few weeks.

Use an antibacterial soap to keep it free from germs. Because it helps prevent infections and keeps your tattoo looking its best.

Always use lukewarm water. Hot water can damage the tattoo, and cold water might not clean it well.

Use your clean hands to gently massage the soap onto the tattoo.

Try products like Dove Beauty Bar Sensitive Skin Soap. It’s unscented and gentle, which is great for sensitive tattooed skin.

Make sure to wash your tattoo 2-3 times a day. Clean hands only! Touching your tattoo with dirty hands can lead to infections.

Once your tattoo is clean, let it air-dry or gently pat it dry with a clean towel. Avoid rubbing, as it may irritate your skin. This simple routine will help your tattoo heal well and stay vibrant.

2. Use fragrance-free lotion

Using fragrance-free lotion is key to proper tattoo aftercare. Scents and additives in regular lotions can irritate your fresh ink and skin.

Look for lotions that are specifically labeled as fragrance-free. These will be gentler and less likely to cause any allergic reactions.

Products like Aquaphor Healing Ointment and unscented Lubriderm are great choices. Apply these lotions three to four times a day to keep your tattoo moisturized.

Make sure to wash your hands before applying lotion. Clean hands mean you’ll avoid transferring bacteria to your new tattoo.

Consistency is important for healing. Stick to fragrance-free options to give your tattoo the best chance to heal smoothly.

3. Avoid Direct Sunlight for 2 Weeks

Got a fresh tattoo? Congrats! You’re going to want to keep it looking vibrant. For the first two weeks, avoid direct sunlight on your new ink. Sunlight can be rough on a healing tattoo.

UV rays can cause fading and damage. Sun exposure can also increase the risk of infection.

Cover your tattoo with clothing or a bandage when you go outside. If clothing isn’t an option, find some shade or stay indoors during peak sun hours.

Think of this as giving your tattoo time to settle. Treat this period like a mini-vacation for your skin.

4. Stay Hydrated

Drinking water is crucial for your tattoo’s healing process. When your skin stays hydrated, it heals faster and looks better.

Make sure you drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Your body—and tattoo—will thank you.

Don’t forget, staying hydrated isn’t just about drinking water. Eating fruits and veggies can help too, as they contain water and nutrients.

5. Avoid Swimming Pools

You just got a new tattoo, and it looks amazing! But guess what? Swimming pools are a no-go for a little while.

Pools contain chlorine, which can irritate your fresh ink and slow down the healing process. Your tattoo is like an open wound, and the chemicals can cause redness and swelling.

You’ll need to steer clear of hot tubs and the ocean too. Hot tubs might feel great after a long day, but they can be a nightmare for your new tattoo. Bacteria can hide in these warm waters, increasing the risk of infection.

Stick to showers for the first few weeks. You can let water run over your tattoo, but avoid soaking it. A quick rinse is enough to keep it clean without causing damage.

Remember, patience is key. Your tattoo will be healed before you know it, and then you can dive back into the pool!

6. Wear Loose Clothing

Wearing loose clothing is a vital step in tattoo aftercare. Tight clothes can rub against your new tattoo, causing irritation and slowing down the healing process.

Loose clothing allows your tattoo to breathe and prevents unnecessary friction. Opt for soft, breathable fabrics like cotton. Steer clear of materials like nylon, polyester, and wool, which can irritate your skin.

When you’re inside, it’s even better to let your tattoo air out. For example, wear tank tops, shorts, or go barefoot if your tattoo is on your foot. This helps the healing process by reducing moisture buildup and keeping the area clean.

7. Avoid Scratching

Scratching your new tattoo might feel tempting, especially when it starts to itch. Resist! Scratching can damage the design and introduce infections.

Use clean fingers to lightly tap the itchy area instead of scratching. This can help provide relief without harming your tattoo.

Keeping the area moisturized helps reduce itching. Apply your aftercare cream as recommended. This will keep your skin hydrated and promote healing.

8. Apply a Healing Ointment

After washing your tattoo with lukewarm water and mild soap, you need to apply a healing ointment.

Using a healing ointment helps keep your tattoo moist. This prevents it from cracking, drying, or bleeding.

Choose a fragrance-free ointment. You should apply a thin layer two to three times daily.

Make sure to wash your hands before touching your tattoo to avoid infections. Doing this keeps your tattoo clean and promotes better healing.

9. Keep it dry

You might think your tattoo needs a lot of water to stay clean, but keeping it dry is just as crucial.

After washing your tattoo, gently pat it dry with a clean paper towel. Don’t rub it; this can irritate the skin and ruin the tattoo.

Avoid soaking your tattoo in water. Long baths, swimming pools, and hot tubs are off-limits until your tattoo heals. Water can introduce bacteria and cause infections.

Keep your tattoo out of the sun as well. Sun can dry out the skin and damage the ink.

Stick to showers instead of baths. Showers are faster and expose your tattoo to less water. Keep it brief to minimize wet time.

Don’t use harsh towels. A soft cloth or clean paper towel works best to avoid irritation.

10. Consult Your Tattoo Artist

It’s always a smart move to consult your tattoo artist before getting inked. Before your appointment, make a list of questions you might have about the process. This helps clear up any doubts and makes you feel more confident.

Ask about the design details. If you have a rough draft, show it to the artist. They’ll let you know what works and what doesn’t in the design. This step ensures your tattoo looks exactly how you want it.

Discuss any health issues you might have. Being open helps the artist prepare and take necessary precautions. This can prevent complications and make the experience smoother for both of you.

Don’t forget to ask about aftercare. Your artist’s advice on how to care for your new tattoo is invaluable. They know the best practices to ensure your tattoo heals well and looks great for years to come.

Also, talk about the cost. Knowing the price upfront eliminates surprises later on. Be upfront about your budget and discuss any possible adjustments to the design if needed.

11. Use SPF 30+ Sunscreen

Your tattoo needs to be protected from the sun. Use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to keep your ink vibrant and your skin safe.

The sun’s UV rays can fade the colors and cause damage. Opt for a sunscreen that contains 14.5% zinc oxide. It offers broad-spectrum protection and is gentle on your skin.

Consider using sunscreens with soothing ingredients like aloe and shea butter, as recommended by dermatologists. These not only protect but also moisturize your skin, making it look healthy and bright.

Many sports sunscreens, like EltaMD UV Sport Sunscreen, are water-resistant and perfect for active lifestyles. Choose sunscreens with a lightweight, non-greasy feel to avoid that sticky sensation.

Tattoo-specific sunscreens, like Coola’s Mineral Body Organic Sunscreen Spray SPF 30, are great options. They offer UVA and UVB protection without any fragrances that might irritate sensitive skin.

12. Avoid Heavy Exercise Initially

After getting a tattoo, you might be eager to hit the gym. It’s best to wait.

Heavy exercise can stretch and irritate the tattooed skin, leading to complications. It’s recommended to avoid intense physical activities for at least 10-14 days. This includes activities like running and weightlifting.

Sweat on a fresh tattoo isn’t great either. It can increase the risk of infection. So, stick to light activities and give your tattoo some time to heal properly.

13. Do not re-bandage

Once you remove the bandage, avoid the urge to re-bandage your tattoo. Keeping the tattoo exposed to air helps it heal faster and reduces the risk of infection.

Covering the tattoo again can trap moisture. This can make an ideal environment for bacteria, which you definitely don’t want!

Your tattoo needs to breathe. Air exposure helps the skin form a protective scab that guards against infections. If you’re worried about dirt or germs, wear loose clothing instead.

Re-bandaging might seem like a good idea, but it can actually prolong the healing process. So, let your tattoo get some fresh air and heal properly.

Proper Cleansing Techniques

Taking care of your tattoo properly starts with cleansing it the right way. Using gentle soaps and the correct drying method are crucial to avoid infections and keep your tattoo vibrant.

Using Gentle Soaps

When cleaning your new tattoo, gentle and unscented soaps are your best friends. Harsh soaps can irritate the skin and might even cause the ink to fade.

Opt for liquid antibacterial or antimicrobial soaps. These are effective at keeping the area clean without causing harm. Remember to use lukewarm water to wash the tattoo as hot water can be too harsh.

Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your tattoo. Rub the soap gently to form a lather and avoid scrubbing, as this can damage the skin.

Here’s a quick rundown of recommended steps:

  1. Wash hands.
  2. Apply gentle soap with lukewarm water.
  3. Gently lather over the tattoo.

Pat Dry Instead of Rubbing

After washing, drying your tattoo the right way is equally important. Always pat dry using a clean paper towel. Avoid towels, as they can harbor bacteria.

Rubbing the tattoo can peel off the scabs prematurely, which could lead to patchy spots in your ink. By patting dry, you minimize the risk of disrupting the healing process.

Follow these simple steps:

  1. Use a clean paper towel.
  2. Gently pat the tattoo dry.
  3. Avoid rubbing or using harsh cloths.

Maintaining Moisture

Keeping your tattoo moisturized is crucial for its healing and appearance. The right balance of moisture helps prevent cracking, drying, and infections.

Choosing the Right Moisturizer

Picking the right moisturizer can make or break your tattoo care routine. You want a fragrance-free and alcohol-free product to avoid irritation. Aquaphor and unscented lotions are popular choices.

Apply a thin layer two to three times daily. Beginning soon after getting the tattoo, consistent moisturizing is key to preventing the area from drying out.

Pat your tattoo dry with a soft cloth before applying any product. This ensures that the moisturizer locks in the right amount of hydration.

Keep in mind that a thick ointment is often better for the initial days, transitioning to a lighter lotion as healing progresses.

Avoiding Over-Moisturizing

Too much of a good thing can be bad. Over-moisturizing can clog pores and trap bacteria, leading to infections or slow healing.

Apply just enough product to cover the tattoo smoothly without leaving a thick residue.

Listen to your skin. If it feels overly greasy or you notice tiny pimples, you may be overdoing it. Reduce the amount or frequency.

Letting your tattoo breathe is just as important as keeping it hydrated. Leave the tattoo uncovered to allow proper healing and avoid suffocating the skin.

Balance is key—moisturize adequately but don’t over-saturate.

Avoiding Sun Exposure

When you get a tattoo, keeping it out of the sun is key to maintaining its vibrancy and preventing skin damage. Two effective strategies are using sunscreen and wearing protective clothing.

Using Sunscreen

Protect your tattoo by applying sunscreen with at least SPF 30. Do this about 15 minutes before going outside.

Sunscreen helps in preventing the ink from fading and shield your skin from harmful UV rays.

Make sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially if you’re swimming or sweating.

Rub the sunscreen gently onto your tattoo to avoid causing any irritation. Use a generous amount and ensure you cover all areas of the tattoo.

Mineral sunscreens are often recommended as they provide the most protection.

Wearing Protective Clothing

Another great way to protect your tattoo is by wearing protective clothing. Long sleeves, hats, and even special UV-protective clothing can help shield your skin. This is especially useful for tattoos in areas that get a lot of sun like your arms or chest.

If you can’t always wear long sleeves, carry a towel or lightweight cover to drape over your tattoo when needed. Also, try to stay in the shade whenever possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Tattoo aftercare can be tricky, especially if it’s your first time. Here are some key tips and tricks to help you through the healing process.

What are the best practices for the first 48 hours of tattoo aftercare?

Clean your tattoo gently with antibacterial soap. Pat it dry, don’t rub. Use a fragrance-free lotion to keep it moisturized.

Avoid direct sunlight and keep it covered with a sterile bandage for the first 24 hours. Don’t forget to stay hydrated—drink plenty of water!

How can I prevent my new tattoo from being irritated by clothing?

Wear loose, breathable clothing to prevent friction. Avoid tight jeans and synthetic fabrics that can trap moisture.

Cover the tattoo area with a clean, soft cloth if you’re worried about irritation.

Change your bandage if it gets damp or dirty.

What are the essential do’s and don’ts after getting a new tattoo?


  1. Keep your tattoo clean and moisturized.
  2. Use fragrance-free products.
  3. Stay hydrated and eat a balanced diet.


  1. Avoid scratching or picking at your tattoo.
  2. Stay out of swimming pools and hot tubs.
  3. Skip direct sun exposure and heavy workouts.

After how long is it safe to shower normally with a new tattoo?

You can take a shower after the first 24 hours, but avoid soaking the tattoo. Use lukewarm water and mild, fragrance-free soap. Pat the area dry gently without rubbing.

Full immersion in water, like baths or swimming, should be avoided for at least two weeks.

When is it okay to start wearing clothes over a fresh tattoo?

Generally, after the first 24 hours, you can start wearing clothes over your tattoo. Make sure the clothes are clean and soft. Avoid tight or irritating fabrics that might rub against the tattoo.

How long should a new tattoo be kept covered to ensure proper healing?

Keep your tattoo covered for the first 24 hours with a sterile bandage. After that, allow it to breathe. But continue to protect it from dirt and sun exposure. If your tattoo is still weeping or sensitive, you might keep it lightly covered for an additional day or two.

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