Tattoo Aftercare – How To Take Care Of Your New Tattoo!

aftercare Dec 28, 2020

Getting tattooed is one thing. The aftercare is something completely different, but just as important as the tattooing, if not more! If you don’t take care of your tattoo, it can become pale and uneven or even scarred or completely faded. In fact, a tattoo is not permanent until it is completely healed.

As an artist, I can give you a great tattoo, but as soon as you walk out the door it’s your own responsibility to take really good care of it. And I actually expect you to do so.


Your Tattoo Healing Is Your Own Responsibility

There are many mistakes people make when they are newly tattooed. One of the most common mistakes is lubricating the tattoo too much at a time and not letting the skin breathe. This can quickly lead to rashes and pimples, and possibly also an infection. 

A tattoo artist creates your art by puncturing your skin thousands of times at a rapid pace. This process creates a large area of vulnerable skin—an open wound. When you finish your tattoo session, your tattoo immediately enters the first healing phase.

The Three Tattoo Healing Stages

1 – The first stage is essentially considered the open wound stage. This is the period of time in which your body is still trying to seal its open skin and when you are at the greatest risk of infection and complication. Your body will try to seal its open wound by excreting a substance, called plasma, that will help this process. It is natural for our bodies to produce this healing element, which helps to break down dead tissue and rebuild new tissue. Under normal circumstances, these healing elements would dry up or evaporate quickly, creating a scab. However, in tattoo healing, scabbing is detrimental to the design.

To avoid this, you keep the tattoo well-moisturized and covered with a tattoo bandage throughout the healing process. This keeps the skin from scabbing and allows the body to heal without creating a pesky shell that could potentially pull out the ink.

The Goal Is Basically To Minimize Crust To Prevent Any Ink Loss.

2 – During the second stage of healing, the skin becomes tight and itchy. During this portion of the healing, the top layers of skin that were traumatized throughout the tattoo loosen and begin to lift off, giving the skin a peeling appearance. It will essentially look like a peeling sunburn. Again, keeping it moisturized during this process can help ease the itching and protect the tattoo from any additional trauma caused by drying out.

3 – The third stage of healing actually takes place below the skin after the open wound portion of the tattoo has closed up. At this point, the ink begins to settle into the layer of skin called the dermis. Your risk of infection has passed at this point in the healing, however, it is vital to keep the area well-moisturized to prevent any early blurring as the tattoo wraps up the final stage of healing.

The Dark Jungle Of Recommendations

You will need aftercare products, preferably made especially for fresh tattoos. Tattooists often recommend different products for many reasons. Products come and go. It is not easy for busy tattoo artists to keep up with all the new ones and get to test everything along the way. Check with your studio about what they are recommending right now.

It is not always advisable to listen to a Facebook group or to your tattooed friends about what they recommend. I very often see bad advice from people, even though they have the best intentions and were very lucky with products that should not have been used.

I used to recommend plastic wrap for many years (as in Traditional Aftercare) because it is easy to get a hold of and it protects the tattoo during the first nights. But plastic will now let the tattoo breathe, and it can hurt the tattoo if it isn’t changed often. More and more artists are recommending using Saniderm or similar products. I have used it a lot recently, and I absolutely love it.

In this post, I will cover my 2 ways to take care of your tattoo. The Traditional way, and the Saniderm way. These are only different during the first phase of the healing process. 

Step By Step – Traditional Aftercare

On the same night that the tattoo is made, you can take off the bandage/plastic cover, and start cleaning and moisturizing. 

1 – Clean

  1. Wash your hands
  2. Clean the tattoo thoroughly with a soap made especially for fresh tattoos and warm water so that you see that the pores are completely free of blood and excess ink.
  3. Rinse well with first warm water to open the pores, so that there is no more soap on the skin, and then colder water to close the pores.
  4. Don’t dry the tattoo, leave some water on the skin.

2 – Moisturize

  1. Wash your hands
  2. Massage a very thin layer of the ointment made especially for fresh tattoos, until it begins to penetrate the skin. Remember that it is better to lubricate too little but often rather than too much but rarely.

3 – Cover The Tattoo

  1. Wash your hands
  2. Use plastic wrap or big bandaids from the Pharmacy, and put it tightly on the entire tattoo. Wear the cover overnight during the first 1-3 nights. Consider sleeping with a garment, or tape the ends of the cover, so you can hold the cover airtight and in place all night. 

Repeat the washing, moisturizing, massaging, and re-wrapping for 1 to 3 days from when the tattoo was done, about 3 times daily, depending on how much fluid appears from the pores. If there is not so much plasma coming out, you can stop using Bandage/wrap after 1 day, while if you have a lot of fluid you can continue to wrap it for up to 2 or even 3 days. Make sure that the wrap always looks suitably clean. Not too moist, and not too dry.

When you are at home, you can let the tattoo “air” for hours without wrapping, as long as the tattoo isn’t exposed to bacteria from clothing, children, pets, etc.

After this first healing phase, you will need to moisturize the tattoo at least daily until it’s completely healed, for about 2-3 weeks. Again, remember that it is better to lubricate too little but often rather than too much but rarely.

B – Step By Step Using Saniderm

If your tattoo artist recommends and uses Saniderm or similar products, they will put it on your fresh tattoo as soon as your tattoo session is over.

Saniderm’s tattoo bandage is permeable enough for oxygen and water vapor to pass through. It allows the wounded area to maintain optimal levels of breathability. Saniderm protects against dirt and germs, offering protection from friction and other irritants. You can wear Saniderm for several days at a time while your tattoo heals. This means it allows you to skip out on the frequent washing and ointment applying involved with traditional tattoo aftercare in the first phase of the healing.

The Saniderm Lazy Days

After you apply the first Saniderm bandage, I recommend leaving it on your new tattoo for 12-24 hours. Everyone heals differently, and the length of time will vary depending on how much fluid your tattoo is weeping. When the adhesion of the Saniderm bandage begins to weaken, that’s your cue to remove or replace the bandage. If you notice excessive weeping or fluid under your currently applied piece of Saniderm, it’s okay to carefully replace it with a new one. 

Regardless of how much fluid build-up you experience, you should always change the initial film at the 24-hour mark to clean the area. Before replacing your Saniderm with a new bandage, you may apply a thin layer of Sanibalm or other aftercare products. 

Once you’ve applied the second bandage, it can be worn for up to 6 days. If you find the tattoo weeps into the second piece, remove it during the next 24 hour period. Then wash the tattoo, apply aftercare if needed, and apply the third piece. This third piece can be worn for up to 5 days.

Saniderm should not be worn for more than 7 days in total.

How To Remove Saniderm

The best way to remove Saniderm is to find an edge of the bandage, and then to pull it back over itself in the direction of hair growth. Pulling upward on the Saniderm can be painful, so we don’t recommend it. In some rare cases, people can “stick” to the Saniderm bandage better than others, which can make it more difficult than normal to remove. In cases like this, try removing the Saniderm in a warm shower. The warmth will loosen the adhesive, making it easier and more comfortable to remove.

If that doesn’t work, take a small amount of Sanibalm (coconut, olive, or baby oil can work as well) and apply it around the edges of the bandage. Oils work to weaken the adhesive and make Saniderm easier to remove. Read more Saniderm Product Usage Information.

After these Saniderm Lazy Days, you will still need to moisturize the tattoo until it’s completely healed, for about 2-3 weeks. Again, remember that it is better to lubricate too little but often rather than too much but rarely.

Get 10% off Saniderm products by using the coupon code “ElectricLinda” here.

Tattoo Infections And Inflammations

The vast majority of infections occur because unsatisfactory aftercare is not followed. It is both better and easier to care for the tattoo than to have to care for infections. Take your precautions by taking good care of the tattoo from the start. Should the symptoms occur or if you are in pain; Always consult a doctor for further treatment.

Good Tips For Avoiding Infections And Inflammation:

  • Always wash your hands before touching the tattoo
  • Sleep in clean bedsheets the first nights
  • Wear clean clothes
  • Clean towels
  • Don’t expose your fresh tattoo to animals, children’s hands, etc.

Tanning And Swimming

One of the things you need to avoid when you have a fresh tattoo is direct sunlight. As freshly tattooed, going to the beach or tanning in the solarium for the first few weeks is not very wise. The sun that hits the tattoo will burn you, make it crust, and hurt. You should also not swim, regardless of water, neither in the ocean, pool, or a bathtub. Stick to showers. The tattoo does not benefit from being soaked for more than a few minutes, and many bacteria thrive in all kinds of water.


You CAN work out after being tattooed, but it is not recommended. You can run and bounce, pump, and sweat, but stay completely away from any type of pool training during healing. Pay good attention to the tattoo, and take into account that the body should be able to focus on letting the wound heal. If you do a specific movement that hurts the area where the tattoo is, you may want to stay away from this movement. You may want to lubricate the tattoo just before exercise so that it does not feel tight and dry when exercising. If you exercise too hard or too much, this can go beyond the healing process, you may then heal slower or not have as good protection. Thus, you can more easily get inflammation or infection.

One important thing to keep in mind is when working out in a studio or gym. Clean the equipment well before and after use, and be super cautious. 

How Long Should I Focus On Aftercare?

The average healing time is about 3 weeks. It often takes a little longer on the legs, ankles, and feet. Lubricate the tattoo only when needed. The skin will become more and more normal as it heals and you will need less and less lubrication. Remember that it is better to lubricate too little but often rather than too much but rarely.

  • Never use a towel, sponge, or cloth directly on the tattoo while it is healing.
  • Perfume and deodorant should not be added close to or directly on the tattoo during the healing process.
  • Avoid direct sunlight and solarium for 4-6 weeks
  • No bath! No matter the type of water. Only clean shower, the first 4 weeks
  • Never itch or scratch, at or near the tattoo while healing.
  • If you have pets or small children you should protect the tattoo extra by keeping the tattoo away from all bacteria, as much as you can.
  • Dress according to the needs of the tattoo, do not let seams or tight clothes rub on the tattoo, at least in the beginning.
  • Use sunblock on the tattoo when you sunbathe in the future. Over time, the tattoo will be bleached by the sun, while the colors in the tattoo may look muddy when you tan.

Take good care of your tattoo and it will stay nice for many years to come. If you have any questions about aftercare, you are most welcome to comment below.

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