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  • Nico Boncales

Why is Aftercare Important

Updated: Jan 24

You just got a new tattoo any reputable artist will tell you the steps to take care of the tattoo, listen and follow these steps to a tee. Aftercare is arguably one of the most important aspects of a getting a tattoo. When getting a tattoo, the needle pierces your top two layers of skin the epidermis which is the top protective layer and the dermis which is the second layer that includes your hair follicles and glands. The ink must be deposited into the dermis due to the epidermis constantly shedding and creating new cells. Because of this a fresh tattoo is considered an open wound and it should be treated as such. If you fall and get a cut you wouldn’t let it get infected it is the same thing for a tattoo, think of it as a whole bunch of little cuts all in one area. The way the tattoo is taken care sets the stage for how the tattoo will look for years to come. Aftercare, however does not stop once the tattoo heals, aftercare continues for the entire life of the tattoo (your entire life).


The proper fresh tattoo aftercare care instructions are as follows

  • Always wash your hands before touching your tattoo!

  • When you get home: Remove bandage within 1 - 2 hours after getting your tattoo. Your tattoo needs to breathe, just like an open wound.

  • Wash your tattoo with an anti-bacterial liquid soap. Be gentle, do not use a washcloth or anything that will exfoliate your tattoo. Only use your hands or a clean wet, soapy paper towel.

  • Gently pat your tattoo dry with a paper towel. Do not rub or use a fabric with a rough surface.

  • The first 5 Days: Rub a small amount of lotion/ointment on your tattoo. Only use an unscented lotion (with no alcohol in the lotion) like Cetaphil or a tattoo ointment – whatever you know you’re not allergic to. Always use clean hands and do not place your fingers back into the ointment after touching your tattoo. Make sure to rub the ointment in so that it is not shiny, or greasy– you want the thinnest amount possible. Pat off any excess ointment with a clean paper towel. Do not use Vaseline, petroleum, Neosporin, or Bag Balm. Wash, dry, and apply lotion/ointment 3-5 times daily, as needed.

  • On the first night, you may want to wrap your tattoo in saran wrap to prevent sticking to your bedding. Do not use any cloth bandages or pads, as the fibers of this material can adhere to your open tattoo and hinder the healing process.

  • Wear clean, soft clothing over your tattoo for the first 2 weeks– nothing abrasive or irritating.

  • After day 3 or 4: On the 3rd or 4th day your tattoo will begin to peel. This is normal! Do not pick at the skin. Begin using a mild, white, unscented lotion, free of dyes or Perfumes.

  • Use lotion for minimum 2 weeks, 1-2 times daily.


Following these steps will reduce the risk of infection and scarring when the tattoo is healing.

As mentioned before the aftercare does not stop once the tattoo is healed. Continued care of the tattoo is just as important to ensure the tattoo looks it’s best. Sun is the worst enemy of a tattoo, just as it is for your skin. Direct sun light will cause your tattoos to fade substantially faster than expected. Not only will direct sunlight cause your tattoo to fade but it also increases the risk of melanoma which is the fifth most common cancer in the United States. Combat this by using a sunscreen with at least 30 SPF, integrating this into your normal skincare routine makes it second nature to protect your tattoo and your skin. Even if you are wearing clothes over your tattoo loose knit fabrics will still allow sun rays through. So, remember sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. The second thing to think about when taking care of a tattoo long term is keeping the skin moisturized. This not only means using lotion but staying hydrated. If the skin is dehydrated it will crack, peel, and wrinkle which can cause abnormalities in a tattoo. Remedy this by using a daily moisturizer as well as staying hydrated.

Being mindful of your tattoo aftercare will ensure your tattoo stays vibrant and visually appealing for years.



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