a woman applying cream to her tattooed wrist

How to take care of a tattoo

We all have our own ways of expressing ourselves. One increasingly popular method of doing this is through a tattoo.

Your tattoo might be a significant name or date, a meaningful phrase, some beautiful artwork or something just plain fun.

Whatever you choose to have, this permanent body art shows the world a little bit about who you are and is something many people are very proud of.

Having a tattoo can be a daunting process, with many questions about how long it will take and how much it will hurt, but how much thought is given to the aftercare?

Once your tattoo is complete, it will need good care and attention while it heals to avoid all sorts of problems and complications.

Here, we look at the best way to take care of your new tattoo to make sure that your art and you are at your best.

Tattoo aftercare

Once your tattoo artist has completed their masterpiece, you will no doubt want to show it off, but you will have to wait!

The first thing they should do before you leave is to cover the tattoo in petroleum jelly before wrapping it in a bandage.

After 24 hours you can remove the bandage and gently wash the area with antimicrobial soap.1

Remember, you do not need to rub it dry or you will irritate the area - so just give it a little pat with a clean towel.

Wash the tattoo twice a day with soap and water

From this point on, you will need to wash the tattoo twice a day with soap and water and apply a layer of antibacterial ointment.

This process will last between two and four weeks. During that time you should take care not to wear clothes that will stick to your tattoo.

Tattoo moisturiser

You will need to use a tattoo moisturiser to help keep the area thoroughly hydrated. It is also best to avoid swimming and the sun for the first two weeks.

You need to give your new tattoo proper care, so avoid hot water in the shower as this will not only be painful but can also cause the ink to fade.

Avoid picking the scabs on your tattoo!

You will go through a period of tattoo healing where it may scab or develop hard layers.

This is all perfectly normal, but it is important not to pick or scratch at it as this leaves you vulnerable to infection, colour fade and scarring.

Use suncream

Caring for your tattoo in the first few weeks is vital, but it does not end there.

If you want to avoid the colour fading, you should make sure that you apply suncream to the tattoo whenever you are outside. You should also moisturise it regularly to prevent dryness.

Tattoo care products

You probably never thought you needed to buy products to care for your tattoo, but if you want to achieve the best tattoo aftercare then you might need to start stocking your bathroom shelves.

When it comes to choosing the best creams for tattoo aftercare you need to make sure they are both fragrance-free and alcohol-free to help prevent aggravation and soreness.2

You should also be careful that any moisturisers for tattoos do not include additives such as coloured dye, as they can dry out the skin.

One of the most widely recommended ingredients to use on freshly-tattooed skin is cocoa butter, due to its natural soothing and nourishing properties.

It is important not to let the tattoo dry up in those first few weeks, so choose a tattoo aftercare cream that is mild, gentle but hydrating.

This will also help to protect against scabbing and aid the healing process, so you can soon show off your bright and colourful new ink without regret.

Whatever you have chosen to decorate your body with, you will want to show it off in all its glory.

If you take care of it properly when it has first been completed, you will be able to do so without worrying about any problems.

Remember, if anything does worry you about the way your tattoo looks or feels then you should make sure that you speak to a doctor or pharmacist as soon as you can.

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Last updated: 9 February 2021

Sources
  1. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/taking-care-of-your-tattoo#1
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/tattoo-aftercare#aftercare-by-day

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Doaa Al Mosawi

Doaa Al Mosawi,
International Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: Mar 2019

BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Science

After completing her BSc in Biomedical Science, Doaa worked in Research and laboratory for 3 years. Doaa was also a member of a product development team in a manufacturing company specialising in sun care and personal care products, researching and providing regulatory advice regarding international regulations.