Tattoo Aftercare: How Do You Look After Your New Tattoo

You took the plunge! You finally got that tattoo you’ve been wanting for years. While you thought you were well-prepared on the process, you may have found yourself surprised with the amount of work that goes into tattoo aftercare. Stick around to learn how to help your tattoo heal and why you can’t skip this crucial part of the process.

Why Is Tattoo Aftercare So Important?

Whether your tattoo represents something about your personality, is in remembrance of a passed loved one, or is simply for fun, it’s still damaged skin. Just as you would care for a cut or wound, you need to make sure that your tattoo heals properly. This will ensure that your investment is protected and that you can be proud of your tattoo for the rest of your life.

It’s never too late to start caring for your tattoo. Even if there’s been damage already, you can prevent it from looking worse. If you haven’t headed to the tattoo parlor just yet, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about proper tattoo aftercare.

What to Do First

The first day is crucial when it comes to proper healing. Follow the directions given to you by your tattoo artist. You’ll want to find out how long to leave the bandage on and follow this crucial step perfectly.

Once removed, you’ll want to immediately wash your tattoo and apply products as needed or directed. The first day can be quite uncomfortable, so make sure you have time to rest and allow your body to start repairing itself.

Do’s and Don’ts While Your Tattoo Is Healing

If you just need some basic tips, this list of do’s and don’ts will have you on the right track to proper tattoo maintenance.


  • Place an absorbent and sterile bandage over your tattoo immediately after it’s finished.
  • Remove the bandage as instructed.
  • Wash your tattoo regularly with an antibacterial soap, patting dry after each cleansing.
  • Apply a tattoo numbing cream if needed. Apply a tattoo numbing cream or tattoo numbing sprays if needed
  • Avoid tight clothing. If the location of your tattoo permits, prevent clothing from coming into contact with the area.
  • Keep an eye out for signs of infection and seek medical attention if needed.


  • Submerge your tattoo in water. This includes swimming pools, hot tubs, and baths.
  • Go tanning outdoors, indoors, or use a sunless tanning booth.
  • Pick at scabs or dry skin.
  • Scratch your tattoo, even if it itches while healing.
  • Overlook the importance of keeping your tattoo clean.

How to Clean Your Tattoo

There’s a right way and a wrong way to clean your tattoo, especially when it’s fresh. Your tattoo artist might have different instructions based on the size and location of your tattoo, but here are some basic instructions to follow:

  • Before you do anything, wash your hands using an antibacterial soap. Avoid cross contamination by using clean towels to dry your hands and not touching any other surfaces.
  • Using lukewarm water, wet the tattoo. Using water that’s too warm can open the pores and make the area more susceptible to infection. Don’t place the skin directly under the tap. Instead, cup water in your hand and gently pour it onto your skin.
  • After wetting the area, use a fragrance- and alcohol-free soap to begin cleaning the skin. Gently move your fingers in small circular motions to apply the soap. Don’t use a wash cloth.
  • Once the area is clean, pour lukewarm water on the area until all the soap has been rinsed off.
  • Dry the skin by blotting it gently with a paper towel. You can also let it air dry. Don’t rub it with a washcloth.

Don’t be alarmed if you notice bleeding ink when washing your tattoo during the first few days. This is normal. Just remember to be as gentle as possible.

How to Wrap Your Tattoo in Plastic Wrap

You’ll find controversial information regarding wrapping tattoos in plastic wrap. Follow the instructions provided by your tattoo artist, as the size and location of your tattoo will play a factor in your tattoo aftercare process.

If you’re using plastic wrap, here’s how to go about it:

  • Once you’re able to remove your bandage, gently do so. Wash your tattoo as directed and allow it to air dry.
  • Take a clean piece of plastic wrap and wrap it around the tattoo. It shouldn’t be loose but also shouldn’t be painfully tight. Don’t use any lotion or moisturizer beforehand.
  • When using plastic wrap, you need to make sure you’re changing it often, as plastic wrap can allow moisture to pool and hinder the healing process. Remove the plastic wrap every four to six hours. Wash your tattoo and wrap it again with a new piece of clean plastic.

With the proper care, your tattoo will heal in record time and look just as you had hoped. It might be a lot of work, but tattoo aftercare is always worth the effort.