top of page

Tattoo Aftercare Instructions

Getting a tattoo is an exciting process. After careful consideration of your design and placement, you have now been inked with a meaningful tattoo that you probably cannot wait to show off. Still, before you do, there are a few steps to take to ensure your piece heals without any issue. Tattoo aftercare is important but also simple and involves keeping your skin clean and dry and avoiding exposure. Aftercare is an essential step as failing to do so can result in infection and irritation.

  • Removing Bandage

  • When you get a tattoo, your tattoo artist will apply a layer of petroleum jelly or antibacterial cream onto your skin and cover it with plastic wrap or a bandage. The covering process helps prevent bacteria from getting into the skin and acts as a barrier between your skin and clothing, reducing friction and preventing irritation. The first step in your aftercare would be to remove this bandage after around two to three hours; unless you are informed differently. Some artists may want you to keep the bandage on longer to prevent leaking and friction. It is important to remember that certain placements may require you to keep the wrap on for longer. Always wash your hands thoroughly before touching your skin.
  • Wash

  • Before touching your skin, it is essential to wash your hands by scrubbing them with soap. The first wash of your tattoo and the surrounding area is important, and this should be done using warm water. You want to clean the area with hypoallergenic or unscented antibacterial soap, but do not scrub and avoid using a cloth as this will irritate the area. After washing your tattoo, pat the area dry using a paper towel. You do not want to rebandage the area.

  • Hydrate

  • Once the skin is completely dry, you can hydrate it. This should be done with an unscented moisturizer. This could include creams like Aquaphor, Vaseline, or Shea Butter. You need to take care not to over-moisturize and use a thin layer of cream. You can ask your tattoo artist for their recommendation on which cream is best to use and how long you should wait to apply it; each artist will have slightly different aftercare tips, and some may want you to wait longer. 

  • Allow the Tattoo to Breathe

  • Your skin needs time to breathe and should not be rebandaged. It will still feel tender and could be red and warm to the touch. It’s important to keep it clean, wash it several times a day, apply moisturizer, and let it air. It is also advisable to wear loose-fitting clothing to avoid rubbing against the skin.

  • Avoid Sun Exposure

  • You want to avoid submerging your tattoo in water, for example, going swimming, and direct sun exposure for several weeks. When going outdoors, it is advisable to wear clothing that can cover your ink as the sun can cause it to fade faster. Sunburnt skin will hurt, but it can also increase the risk of infection, make the healing process longer, and damage your design. Once your tattoo has healed, you want to continue to avoid the sun as much as possible and always apply sunscreen to it.

  • Day 1

  • The first few days after getting your tattoo, you want to treat it as an open wound. You need to take care to keep it clean and dry, moisturize it, avoid direct sunlight, and do not submerge it in water. It is important to consider the environment you work in and the climate as hot weather or physical work will result in more sweat, and you will need to clean your skin regularly. Your skin will likely appear red and feel warm.

  • Day 2

  • The aftercare for your tattoo on the second day will be similar to the first. You can repeat the steps mentioned above to ensure it is kept clean and hydrated. You want to continue treating it like it is a wound. By day two, you should not be using a bandage anymore; some tattoo artists may have requested you keep yours on longer than average.

  • Day 3

  • It is possible, especially for smaller designs, that your tattoo will already look as if it has healed. It isn’t, so you want to continue taking the appropriate measures to keep it clean and hydrated for several weeks to avoid infection. 

  • Week Two

  • From day one to week two, you want to continue repeating the steps to keep your tattoo clean, dry, and moisturized. At this time, any redness or swelling that you may have had should have disappeared, and the scabs may be flaking off. You want to take extra care to be gentle when cleaning your tattoo to prevent ripping the scabs.

  • Week Three and After

  • Everyone heals at different times, and how fast your tattoo will heal depends on the placement and size. Around week three and after, most of the scabs and flakes should have disappeared. Your skin should not appear red or swollen, and the outer layer of the skin has healed. At this point, it is much harder for your tattoo to become infected. However, you still want to follow the steps to clean and moisturize the area daily and avoid direct sunlight.


  • Keep your tattoo clean by regularly washing it.

  • Use a fragrance-free soap to prevent irritation and wash with warm water.

  • Pat the skin dry with a paper towel after washing it. Wait some minutes to make sure it is completely dry before adding moisturizer.

  • Find a great unscented lotion for aftercare.

  • Use clean bedsheets to prevent infection or irritation.


  • Never pick at the scabs or scratch the skin, even if it is itchy.

  • Do not stop cleaning and caring for your tattoo, even if it appears to be healed in the first few weeks.

  • Remember that colored tattoos and larger pieces take longer to heal, give it time, and do not rush this process.

  • Avoid submerging your tattoo in water.

  • Keep it away from direct sunlight and even after it has healed, use sunscreen.

bottom of page