Tattoo Aftercare & Day By Day Healing Process

So, you got a tattoo. Awesome! Now it’s time to take care of that tattoo, like a responsible body art enthusiast. If not, you run the risk of scarring and infections.

Tattoo Aftercare Instructions

To avoid tattoo infections, practice good tattoo aftercare. First, do not touch your fresh tattoo. Your artist should have covered it with an antibiotic ointment followed by a bandage – you should keep this on for as long as they recommend, which will typically be just a few hours.

Day 1

Once your ready to remove the bandage, do so gently, and then use a fragrance free soap and warm water to clean it. Once you’re done, dab your tattoo gently with a towel to dry. Finally, use a tattoo aftercare lotion to moisterize – this will help with the healing process.

Day 2 to Day 3

You should clean and apply lotion once or twice a day for the first few days. You may notice that your tattoo looks less glossy and more dull than when you first had it inked – this is normal and part of the healing process. Your skin will start scabbing and there may be excess ink running off your tattoo when you clean it.

Day 4 to Day 6

The redness on your skin should start to fade and the scabs will be more pronounced. As with the previous days, you should continue to clean the area and apply tattoo aftercare ointment/lotion – just make sure you are gentle with the area and that you do not pick off the scabs, as this may cause scarring.

Day 7 to Day 14

During this period your scabs will begin to flake off – you should not pull them off but instead let them fall off naturally. Your tattoo moisturizer will come in very handy here as it will help soothe your skin against feeling itchy.

Day 15 to Day 30

In the final stage of healing the scabs should be mostly gone. The outer skin should have healed, although the color of your tattoo will still be a bit dull – it will still take several more months for the lower layers to heal completely and your tattoo to reach its full aesthetic potential.

Tattoo Aftercare Lotion

After you’ve removed your bandage, apply a thin layer of tattoo aftercare lotion or ointment to your tattoo at least once or twice a day. You should do this for at least a month, or until the outer layer of your tattoo has fully healed.

Moisturizing your tattoo promotes the formation of healthy new skin cells. It helps keep your skin safe from infection and preserves the quality of your tattoo. It will also help prevent itching, which you absolutely should not do with a new tattoo.

Things To Avoid

  • If your tattoo is located in an area that you struggle to reach, such as your back or shoulder blades, or if you have any trouble with hand or arm mobility then ask someone else to help you take care of it for the first couple days. This way you don’t risk it rubbing against things when you can’t reach it.
  • Avoid wearing clothes that are too tight or which cause excessive rubbing against your tattoo.
  • You should avoid vigorous exercise right after getting your tattoo as sweating can lead to infection, so be sure to take it easy for at least 2-3 days.
  • Don’t pick at the scabs. Once your tattoo has finished healing, take care not to pick off scabs and allow them to fall off naturally. You can let your artist know if you have any questions or concerns about the healing process, but it’s best for you to avoid peeling them off yourself because that could leave scarring behind.
  • Also be sure to protect your new tattoo from direct sunlight with clothing or a tattoo sunscreen so it doesn’t fade or become damaged.

Best Tattoo Aftercare Products

To help ensure a quick and smooth healing process, invest in some good tattoo aftercare products.

Dove Beauty Bar and Neutrogena are excellent options for a fragrance free soap. Avoid Vaseline, as it is petroleum-based and may cause your tattoo ink to fade.

For a fantastic moisturizing lotion we recommend Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion. There are also other great lotions by Lubriderm, Curél and Eucerin.

Mad Rabbit Tattoo also have a full range of products dedicated to tattoo aftercare – check out our review here.


How Long Does Tattoo Healing Take?

It takes up to 4 weeks for your skin to heal on the surface. This is referred to as the outer or upper layer. However, the skin below your tattoo will take up to 6 months to heal fully. This is why it is important to follow proper tattoo aftercare.

Do Tattoos Hurt?

Tattooing is not something most people would call comfortable; however, if your artist is doing the work properly and using high quality needles, then it shouldn’t be too painful (and if it is, you should seek another artist). Don’t worry too much about how much pain you’re in after getting tattooed; most of that will go away within minutes or hours. What you do need to watch out for is skin infection and scarring.