If you are reading this, congrats! Whether this is your first tattoo or you’re adding another to your collection, it's always exciting to see that fresh ink on the skin. You can admire it all you want (and you should), but let’s not forget about the importance of maintaining it throughout its healing process so that you can preserve that art for as long as possible.
Despite Hollywood’s stories, getting a tattoo is rarely an on-the-whim decision, and often, each tattoo you get is well thought out with special meaning. It’s in your best interest to learn everything you can about protecting your tattoo, from what’s good for it, to what to avoid.
Luckily, we’ve got you covered on what NOT to do, so once you get off the table and go out to show off your new piece, you can give it the best life possible. On top of that, we’re happy to share our secrets for the best tattoo aftercare, too.
1. The Sun
As much as we all love its warmth and good vibes, the sun is no friend to our brand-new tattoo. In fact, they’re more like enemies and should be kept away from each other in order for that tattoo to heal properly.
If your tattoo has direct exposure to sunlight, it could impact the healing process, as well as cause deterioration in the skin and ink, making it fade away quicker. Fading is the last thing that we want to happen, and keeping out of the sun can keep fading at bay.
Obviously, you will have to go outside at one point or another after you’ve gotten a tattoo. You can’t hide from the sun forever! But you can cover your tattoo with clothing when you have to be outside for prolonged periods of time. If you opt to keep your tattoo wrapped up nicely, you can use the wrapping as a protectant from the sun as well.
Applying tattoo-specific sunscreen is another way to ensure that you keep it protected from the sun. Mad Rabbit’s sunscreen works hard to both protect your tattoo and nourish your skin with nutrients from natural ingredients you can recognize like carrot extract and sunflower oil.
Even after your tattoo has healed up properly, you are going to want to keep using sunscreen on it to preserve its boldness.
2. Unwrapping and Rewrapping
You will either wrap it, or you don’t. There’s really no in between. Once the wrap has come off, it’s best to keep it off, and avoid rewrapping it every time you do something.
When a tattoo artist wraps up your tattoo, they are doing it for a reason. They are helping to keep out any bacteria from entering the fresh wound (because yes, a tattoo is an open wound on your skin, no matter how beautiful). Every artist will recommend a specific time for the wrap to stay on, and whatever is suggested is what you should follow. Your artist is truly the expert on your tattoo, and they know the healing process for their work best!
Some might suggest taking the wrap off after a few hours, and others might want you to sleep in it overnight. No matter how long it’s on, once you take it off, don’t rewrap it. If you continue to rewrap the tattoo, it ends up trapping in moisture that you don’t want and risks allowing bacteria to form. If the wrap is off, you want to let your tattoo breathe, which leads us to our next point.
Your tattoo might become itchy, dry, or irritated once the healing process begins and the wrap comes off. Once it’s exposed to fresh air, you might feel the skin start to tighten and peel. The dryness you feel does not mean that you should load up on moisturizer and slather it on there every chance you get.
While hydration is good for your tattoo, putting too much onto the skin can create a space where bacteria can thrive. Similarly to rewrapping your tattoo, over-moisturizing your tattoo can make the wound too damp, preventing it from healing right.
It is essential, however, for you to be applying a thin layer of moisturizer to your tattoo several times a day. Our fragrance-free Daily Tattoo Lotion is good for the later part of the healing process, while our Soothing Gel works for fresher tattoos. This will keep your skin hydrated and allow for your tattoo to heal in the quickest way possible — just don’t slather on really thick creams or ointments that just visibly sit on top of your skin. It’s not only unnecessary, but can be bad for your tattoo’s healing process.
4. Medicated Ointments
Often, people will go home and grab some Neosporin or even burn ointment to try and help with the healing process, and while medicated ointments do work wonders on dry, irritated skin, they shouldn’t be used on new tattoos.
Some ingredients in ointments, like zinc, are also thought to strip away the ink in new tattoos, leaving you with art that has faded way too soon. Some allergies to topical ointments can occur, leaving you with rashes and bumps on your new tattoo that will then impact the ink, causing it to fade away, and have you left with a messed up tattoo.
Put that Neosporin back in the cabinet for your next cut or scrape, and grab our Tattoo Soothing Gel to keep your new tattoo fresh and vibrant, without leaving your skin feeling dry and tight. Aloe vera, plant collagen, and chamomile extract are just a few of the ingredients in this formula that work to soothe your skin so it can do its thing and heal.
5. Scented Soap
Washing your tattoo with the right soap is essential for keeping it healthy and clean, but you need to be careful of what soap you are using. Scented soaps often carry fragrances that will irritate your new tattoo.
Unscented, antibacterial soaps should be your go-to. At the height of your new tattoo’s healing process, you generally want to wash it about twice a day. After the worst part of the healing process has passed, you can limit washing it to once a day, but you should still aim to keep it moisturized.
If you have just gotten a new tattoo, your tattoo artist most definitely shaved the area to make sure they had a fresh canvas. If your tattoo is in a spot where you frequently shave, you are going to want to hold off on shaving until your tattoo is completely healed.
Your tattoo will begin to scab over during the healing process and one of the last things you should do is rip one off on accident as you shave. You will then reopen that healed wound, which could interfere with the healing process, and mess up your tattoo.
After about a month of healing, your skin should be ready to shave over again, without risking any additional cuts. Think about it like this: would you want to pull a sharp razor over a fresh, open wound? Yeah, didn't think so!
7. Touching and Picking It
Just like you don’t want to shave off a scab, you definitely don’t want to rip one off. Touching and picking at a brand new tattoo can happen almost mindlessly. If you feel it begin to itch, you might start scratching at it without even realizing what you are doing.
Now, we aren’t saying your hands are dirty… but when was the last time you washed your hands? You may not realize just how dirty they are, and when you are scratching and picking at your scabs you could be exposing your tattoo to bacteria that will cause you a whole world of trouble, plus the whole it-won’t-heal-right thing from above.
Try your best. Fight the urge. Don’t itch it.
8. Wearing Tight Clothing
Another way to minimize the itchiness after a tattoo is to avoid wearing tight-fitted clothing. When your clothing material rubs up against your brand new tattoo, you might feel irritation and intense itch.
In addition to saving yourself from the itch, avoiding tight clothes can help support the healing process because it will let your tattoo breathe.
Wearing loose clothing lets air circulate better around your tattoo, which it needs to heal properly. Fresh air is good for your healing tattoo, so don’t trap it with tight material—enjoy some fresh air!
We’ve talked about moisture a few times now, but we are going to do it again. When you get a new tattoo, you are going to want to avoid over-sweating.
Sorry, you’re going to have to skip the sauna and forego your gym sessions for the next couple of weeks! Sweat counts as excessive moisture, and even though it’s natural and can occur randomly, putting yourself into situations where you know you’re going to be sweating is a big no-no.
Really, this is crucial for the first month, and after that, you should be in the clear!
10. Submerging in Water
Lastly, in order to heal your tattoo properly and help make it last as long as possible, you will need to avoid submerging it in water. Now, this does not mean you can’t shower, because you should be showering in order to properly clean your tattoo with antibacterial soap.
However, you shouldn’t be going for swims, relaxing in the hot tub, or taking bubble baths. Your tattoo could get infected by bacteria floating in the water, or it could result in a tattoo that doesn’t heal properly and shows signs of premature fading.
Listen to your tattoo artist, because they will have specifics on how long it should take for your tattoo to heal. If you avoid these ten things, you should be on the road to ideal tattoo recovery, and will soon be showing that piece off proudly for the world to admire soon!
And as always, for that extra boost to give your tattoo the best chance to heal, explore Mad Rabbit’s tattoo aftercare products to give your skin the nutrients and hydration it needs to heal like it should!