(Last Updated On: November 12, 2019)

Getting tattooed is one thing. Taking care of it is something completely different, but just as important as the tattooing! 

If you don’t take care of your tattoo, it can become pale and uneven. 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. So wash the tattoo often at first, and only apply thin layers of ointment, preferably only when needed, when the tattoo feels dry.

A fresh tattoo is an open wound that will bleed and fluid for a few days, depending on the size of the tattoo. Small tattoos fluid less, bigger more. What is important to understand is that all liquid that comes out will become crust if it dries. As long as the tattoo is wrapped, it is vacuum and it will not form a crust. The goal is to minimize crust to prevent ink loss.

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What your tattoo needs

You will need a soap and an ointment, both preferably made especially for fresh tattoos. Tattooists often recommend different products for many reasons. Products come and go. It is not easy 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 friends about what they recommend.

I personally recommend using an ointment that is not oil-based, but rather water-based. The main difference is that oil-based leaves a sticky coating, which can quickly attract dirt and bacteria. A water based, on the other hand, will penetrate the skin faster and thus be less risk of the tattoo. I personally love this series, TattooMED. We sell it with pride in the studio.


You also need something to wrap the tattoo with for the first day, possibly 2 days if it is not completely dry yet. You can use plastic wrap if you do not have sensitive skin. If so, you should rather use some kind of compress or adhesive bandage like Saniderm if the tattoo is large. Then you get the liquid absorbed from the tattoo while protecting it from the bacteria around you.

A fresh tattoo is an open wound that will bleed and fluid for a few days, depending on the size of the tattoo. Small tattoos fluid less, bigger more. What is important to understand is that all liquid that comes out will become crust if it dries. As long as the tattoo is wrapped, it is vacuum and it will not form a crust. The goal is to minimize crust to prevent ink loss.

Before you go to bed the first night

On the same night that the tattoo is made, you can take off the bandage, wash 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. Rinse well with water, so that there is no more soap on the skin. Don’t dry the tattoo, leave some water on the skin. Then massage a very thin layer of ointment with the water, until it begins to penetrate the skin. Then replace the bandage, compress or clean wrapping to wear overnight. Consider sleeping with a garment that holds the bandage in place all night.

The first few days

Repeat washing, lubricating, massaging and re-wrapping for 1 to 2 days from when the tattoo was done, 2 to 3 times daily, depending on how much fluid appears from the pores. That is, if there is not so much moisture coming out, you can stop using Bandage/compress after 1 day, while with larger tattoos, or 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 or that the tattoo seems 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.

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 bath tub. 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. 

Tattoos & Exercise

You can work out after being tattooed, except for any type of pool training. You can run and bounce, pump and sweat. But pay 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 when exercising. If you exercise too hard or too much, this can go beyond the healing process, you can then heal slower or not have as good protection as if you had taken it easy. Thus, you can more easily get an inflammation or infection

How long should I lubricate my Tattoo?

The average growing 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 is is better to lubricate too little or too rarely than too much or too often.

Golden Rules

  • Never use a towel, sponge or cloth directly on the tattoo while it is healing.
  • Perfume and deodorant should not be addedclose 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 sunbath 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, you are most welcome to comment below.

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