When you get a new tattoo, taking care of it properly is crucial to ensure it heals properly and looks its best. While it’s important to follow the aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist, you may also be wondering what you can do at home to help your tattoo heal and stay vibrant.

One of the most important things you can do for a new tattoo is to keep it clean and moisturized. This can help prevent infection and keep the skin from drying out, which can cause the tattoo to fade or peel. But what products should you use? And how often should you apply them? In this article, I’ll share some tips and recommendations for what to put on a new tattoo at home.

Whether you’re a seasoned tattoo enthusiast or getting your first ink, learning how to properly care for your tattoo can help ensure it looks its best for years to come. So, let’s dive in and explore some of the best products and practices for taking care of your new tattoo at home.

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Why Is Aftercare for Tattoos Important?

Lavriv claims that getting a tattoo strains your immune system and that internal preparation is equally as crucial as exterior upkeep. “Partying and doing anything extra is not suggested,” she advises.

A tattoo is an invasive aesthetic surgery, and your immune and lymphatic system will work hard to mend a fresh tattoo.” Or, put another way, be careful.

Why Is Aftercare for Tattoos Important

Initial Cleaning and Drying

When you get a new tattoo, it is essential to take care of it properly to ensure proper healing and prevent infection. The first step in this process is the initial cleaning and drying of your new tattoo. In this section, I will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to clean and dry your new tattoo at home.

Cleaning Your New Tattoo

Cleaning your new tattoo is crucial to prevent infection and promote healing. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your new tattoo.
  2. Remove the bandage or wrap that your tattoo artist applied after getting your tattoo.
  3. Gently wash your tattoo with lukewarm water and a mild, fragrance-free soap. Avoid using hot water or scrubbing your tattoo too hard, as this can damage the skin and slow down the healing process.
  4. Rinse your tattoo thoroughly with lukewarm water to remove all soap residue.
  5. Pat your tattoo dry with a clean paper towel or a soft, clean cloth. Do not rub your tattoo, as this can cause irritation and delay the healing process.

Drying Your New Tattoo

After cleaning your new tattoo, it is essential to dry it properly to prevent infection and promote healing. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Allow your tattoo to air dry for 10-15 minutes after cleaning it.
  2. Once your tattoo is dry, apply a thin layer of fragrance-free moisturizer or ointment to your tattoo. This will help keep your skin hydrated and prevent it from drying out and cracking.
  3. Gently pat off any excess moisturizer or ointment with a clean paper towel or cloth.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your new tattoo heals properly and looks great for years to come.

Applying the Right Products

Choosing the Right Ointment

When it comes to taking care of a new tattoo, choosing the right ointment is crucial. It is important to avoid using products that contain alcohol, petroleum, or any other harsh chemicals that can cause irritation or damage to the tattoo. Instead, opt for a gentle, fragrance-free ointment that is specifically formulated for tattoo aftercare.

Some popular options include:

  • Aquaphor Healing Ointment
  • Tattoo Goo
  • Hustle Butter Deluxe
  • After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion

It is also important to check with your tattoo artist for their recommended aftercare products, as they may have specific recommendations based on the type of ink and tattoo placement.

Applying the Ointment

Once you have chosen the right ointment, it is important to apply it correctly to ensure proper healing of your tattoo. Here are some tips for applying ointment:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before applying ointment to avoid introducing bacteria to the tattoo.
  • Apply a thin layer of ointment to the tattoo, making sure to cover the entire area.
  • Avoid applying too much ointment, as this can suffocate the tattoo and prolong the healing process.
  • Apply ointment 2-3 times a day, or as recommended by your tattoo artist.
  • Be gentle when applying ointment, as rubbing or scrubbing can cause irritation to the tattoo.

By choosing the right ointment and applying it correctly, you can ensure proper healing and longevity of your new tattoo.

What To Put On A Fresh Tattoo

Infections may be avoided, and tattoos can look fine with proper maintenance in the first few weeks after receiving one.

Initially bandaged

Aftercare for tattoos begins in the tattoo parlor. After the tattoo is complete, the artist will cover the whole inked region with a thin coating of tattoo jelly or moisturizer. The region will then be thoroughly wrapped in plastic wrap or bandaged.

The bandage or plastic wrap should be left on for at least a few hours following the procedure, despite how alluring it may be to take it off to see the tattoo. The tattoo’s size and location will determine the timeframe.

The open skin is shielded by this coating from germs, sunlight, and rubbing against clothes.

What To Put On A Fresh Tattoo

The first wash

It usually is okay to take off the bandage and clean the tattoo after at least five hours.

After thoroughly cleaning their hands, a person can gently wash their tattoo with warm water and hypoallergenic soap using their fingers.

The skin’s moisture will wash off, and the tattoo can appear dripping ink or thick, gooey material. This reaction is often not an alarm because all that is being seen is extra fluid and ink from the tattooing procedure.

After bathing, wipe the skin dry with a fresh piece of paper towel and leave it to air dry for up to an hour. They should only cover the tattoo with a tiny coating of moisturizer once the region is entirely dried to enable the skin to breathe.

Week one

Before using moisturizer, some tattoo artists advise waiting between 24 and 48 hours, while others advise doing so right after the first wash. Follow the advice of your tattoo artist on when to begin applying moisturizer if you have a recent tattoo.

The skin with the tattoo may feel heated to the touch and seem crimson for the first few days. Additionally, the colors may stand out dramatically from the surrounding skin. As the tattoo continues to heal, it will lose some vibrancy.

During the first three to six weeks after obtaining a tattoo, a person should avoid getting it wet or immersing it in water, except when cleaning it.

A person can use the washing method described above throughout the first week as needed. Depending on a person’s activity level and surroundings, washing frequency varies.

If a person spends their whole workday in an air-conditioned office, they might only need to wash the tattoo once daily. However, a person sweating profusely while working in a hot or unclean workplace must wash the tattoo every few hours.

It is preferable to wash the tattoo with clean fingertips rather than a cloth or towel, which might irritate the skin and hasten the formation of any scabs.

In the first few days, scabs are frequently formed, and ink may still protrude through the skin and must be removed with soap and water. Avoid picking at the scabs or scratching the skin.

Scabbing often does not indicate poor wound care. Any time the skin is damaged, scabs will form and may indicate that healthy tissue is developing beneath the lesion.

As long as there is no known allergy, using an antibiotic cream or moisturizer under occlusion to the wound helps speed up healing and reduce the risk of scarring. The sooner this is done, the better.

The end of the first week is often when any little swelling or redness disappears.

Fresh Vs Healed Tattoo

Week two

The scabs will peel off at the start of the second week. During this week, it’s crucial to exercise extra caution when cleaning and moisturizing to avoid damaging the tattoo.

This week, the skin is probably going to itch a lot. It must not be scratched, though. Additional moisturizer could be useful for scratch relief. Using a moisturizer that has been chilled might help to calm itchy or irritated skin.

If necessary, a nonprescription medication, such as Benadryl, may be ingested to aid the itching.

Week three and beyond

It may take time and patience to reach the last stage of recovery. Most of the bigger scabs should have peeled and dropped off by this time. Dead skin cells and tiny scabs may show up. However, as the healing process progresses, they will gradually go.

Scabs and flaky skin can bring on dryness and dullness. These problems can be resolved using moisturizer and shielding the tattoo from the sun.

By the conclusion of the third week, the skin’s surface ought to have fully recovered. It may take longer for the skin’s deeper layers to recover. But they require a lot less maintenance.

Once the skin’s outer layers have recovered, there is no exposed wound for bacteria to invade, which lowers the risk of infection.

In the months that follow, moisturizing often will help keep the tattoo appearing crisp and clear. In the first few months, it is especially crucial to cover the tattoo while it is healing with clothing and to use sunscreen after it has healed.

Rejection Of Ink Or Allergies

The body may reject ink color at any time during the healing process. The skin may develop a painful rash if the body is allergic to the ink.

Some tattoo artists will evaluate the ink’s allergy potential by putting a tiny bit of it on the skin to prevent ink rejection. It is not safe to use if there is a response.

Because tattoo ink colors contain various chemicals, ink allergies may develop. For instance, crimson ink includes mercury sulfide, whereas black ink contains carbon.

Anyone who notices a rash on or near a tattoo should see a doctor so that they can diagnose and treat the problem. Also, the person might want to get in touch with their tattoo artist.

Rejection Of Ink Or Allergies

Tips for Long-Term Aftercare

Do not itch or pick at it

Depending on the size and quality of the tattoo, it may take anywhere from six weeks to fully heal, according to Carter. Before getting a tattoo, those with immunological problems may want to speak with a doctor or dermatologist, the author observes.

Additionally, he claims that colored ink tattoos heal more slowly than non-colored tattoos, mainly if they are big or close to a joint. According to him, bending might “break” a healing tattoo and result in a scab, slowing down the healing process.

Link work and etched tattoos have less damage to the skin, thus, they usually heal more quickly. The artwork will start to peel on the third or fourth day, which may feel painful or irritating.

However, do not pick or touch the artwork. Even after the peeling stage, the region will still be delicate; thus, it is advised to continue your moisturizing regimen. Continue using fragrance-free products like unscented soap and lotion. Don’t shave.

Do not itch or pick at it

Reduce Extended Sun Exposure

It’s normal for a tattoo to change over time, including fading. According to recent findings, tattoo ink is retained in suspension in the dermis by a specific kind of white blood cell called a macrophage, says Lavriv.

Together, the macrophage and fibroblast bind enough ink particles for the tattoo picture to remain in place and show up on your skin. A fibroblast is another type of cell with a reputation for absorbing ink particles.

These cells persist for many years, and when they inevitably pass away, a fresh macrophage will reabsorb the ink molecules. Your tattoo merges with your body, undergoing shedding and transformation.

And just like it’s crucial to protect your real epidermis from damaging substances and the sun, you’ll need to take care of your tattoo by constantly applying sunscreen with an SPF of 35.

Remember that too much sun might harm your skin and, of course, your creativity. To keep your tattoo appearing new, avoid sunbathing.

Reduce Extended Sun Exposure

When to Visit Your Physician

Although tattoo infections are uncommon, it still helps to be aware of the warning indications. See your doctor if you develop a fever, suffer seeping or scabbing at the tattoo location, or experience swelling that persists for more than a week.

Additionally, consult your doctor if you have elevated, hard tissue in the tattooed region or notice any red sores.

Other advice for caring for a tattoo

Any tattoo artist would advise you that the greater your care for your new tattoo, the more attractive it will be. Additional aftercare advice is provided below to assist make sure your tattoo looks its best:

When cleaning your tattoo, avoid rubbing it.

Don’t immerse your tattoo or leave it wet for an extended time. This prohibits swimming, baths, or using hot tubs for at least two weeks; however, quick showers are OK.

Avoid picking at any scabs that may appear as your tattoo heals. Your tattoo will look ugly if you do this.

For two to three weeks, avoid tanning or exposing your tattoo to direct sunlight. Instead, be sure to cover it with airy clothing and avoid using sunscreen. It’s okay to expose your tattoo to sunlight once it has healed.

However, keep in mind that exposure to the sun without protection will fade your tattoo; therefore, once it has healed, it is advised to apply sunscreen and other types of sun protection whenever you go outside.

Consider applying a warm compress to your tattoo for a few minutes each day if it is very itchy or scabby. Fold two to three paper towels into a compress, moisten them with warm water, squeeze off the excess water, and place the compress on your tattoo. Just be careful not to get your tattoo too much.

Best Tattoo Aftercare Products

Best Tattoo Aftercare Products

WOO After/care Kit

The new After/care Kit from Dr. Woo, a well-known tattoo artist, was created with straightforward yet effective skin-loving chemicals that hasten the healing process after getting inked.

A soothing combination of vitamin E, shea butter, sesame seed oil, zinc, and chamomile are added to the after-care moisturizer in the two-step package, which also includes a gentle cleansing soap with moisturizing glycerin and coconut oil.

They cooperate to lessen irritability and speed up skin healing simultaneously. Just saying, guys, the chic packaging doesn’t hurt either.

Brooklyn Grooming Old School Tattoo Balm

To hasten the healing process of your tattoo, Brooklyn Grooming’s Old School Tattoo Balm combines skin-regenerating hemp seed and sesame oils with vitamin E, beeswax, and shea butter.

CeraVe Healing Ointment

According to Joshua Zeichner, head of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, it’s crucial to keep a tattoo covered with an occlusive ointment right once to promote wound healing and avoid infection.

He suggests a ceramide-rich product, such as CeraVe’s Healing Ointment. Additionally, you should use something oily to protect the tattooed region completely. This ointment goes in quickly yet feels lightweight on the skin, making it an excellent alternative if you don’t like bulkier ointments.

Aveeno Sheer Hydration Daily Moisturizing Lotion

Zeichner advises that even after a few weeks have gone and your tattoo has started to heal; you should continue to maintain the region properly fed and moisturized because the skin is still sensitive to the environment at this stage.

He praises the two-time Allure Best of Beauty winner, saying, “Aveeno’s Sheer Hydration protects the skin with colloidal oatmeal, which delivers both moisturizing and calming characteristics.” Take it from Zeichner and stay covered for as long as possible to guarantee that the region returns to being healthy.

EiR NYC Tattoo Balm

Shea butter, coconut oil, vitamin E, rose-infused olive oil, and rosemary extract are the only five ingredients in EiR NYC’s Tattoo Balm, which is vegan-friendly. Each ingredient helps to relax, hydrate, and nourish the region so that your tattoo heals perfectly.

Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment

Numerous tattoo artists vouch for Aquaphor’s Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment, making it one of the most popular aftercare products.

Keeping the wound wet to aid in healing, Aquaphor absorbs the skin’s natural exudates, according to Matt Marcus, proprietor of Three Kings Tattoo in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Most other creams on the market use variants of this composition because it generates a semi-occlusive barrier on the skin.

This restorative ointment contains petrolatum, panthenol (vitamin B5), and glycerin to feed the skin and speed recovery.

Vaseline Original Petroleum Jelly

Vaseline’s Original Petroleum Jelly ointment, a standard item in many people’s medical cabinets, calms and shields dry, chapped, or irritated skin. According to Marchbein, it also works fantastically on newly applied tattoos. He also suggests covering the artwork with a nonstick bandage to prevent infection from penetrating.

Benton Snail Bee High Content Lotion

Unbelievable as it may seem, snail slime may help the healing process after getting a tattoo. We first learned about Benton’s Snail Bee High Content Lotion in a subreddit for Asian Beauty, where users gushed over it.

Additionally, several dermatologists have approved of it. According to Zeichner, who previously spoke with Allure, “high quantities of hyaluronic acid help plump and moisturize skin, while antioxidants reduce inflammation and encourage healthy collagen formation.”

Snail creams may be helpful to aid in the healing of the skin after tattoos by creating a barrier of protection and moisturizing the skin.

Skinfix Inked Tattoo Balm

It’s not surprising that the Inked Tattoo Balm from the Canadian company Skinfix is excellent, given that it produces several products for sensitive and impaired skin types.

Protective shea butter, jojoba, coconut, and sunflower oils, as well as organic vitamins and antioxidants, are included in Skinfix’s recipe, which is made with 99.5 percent all-natural components. These compounds work in concert to calm the skin and encourage optimum healing. (Oh, and the cool container designed to seem like ink doesn’t hurt either.)


In conclusion, taking care of a new tattoo at home is a crucial step in ensuring that it heals properly and looks great for years to come. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can help your tattoo heal faster and avoid any potential complications.

Remember to keep your tattoo clean and moisturized, avoid exposing it to direct sunlight or water, and wear loose clothing that won’t rub against it. If you experience any unusual symptoms such as excessive pain, swelling, or redness, be sure to consult a healthcare professional.

It’s also essential to invest in high-quality tattoo aftercare products that are specifically designed to promote healing and protect your new tattoo. Look for products that contain natural ingredients such as aloe vera and coconut oil, as these can help soothe and nourish your skin.

Finally, be patient and allow your tattoo to heal naturally. Avoid picking at scabs or peeling skin, as this can cause scarring and damage to your tattoo. With proper care and attention, your new tattoo will look vibrant and beautiful for years to come.