How To Look After A Tattoo: Our FAQ For What To Do
Q: How Long Does A Tattoo Take To Heal?
A: The bigger and more intricate a tattoo design is, the longer it takes to heal. If you're just judging by appearance, a tattoo will appear to be healed within two to three weeks. After a month, most of the peeling and scabbing will be gone, even if the tattooed skin looks a bit shiny.
For the skin underneath though, you have to remember that the stages of tattooing involve creating a wound in the skin and filling it with ink. That's why it takes those inner layers at least four months to fully heal.
Q: Can I Go To The Beach With A New Tattoo?
A: Yes, but try to limit sun exposure and avoid submerging it in water. For safety's sake and to keep your ink looking vibrant, apply lots of sunscreen and drink plenty of liquids!
Q: What Are The Guidelines For What To Do After Getting A Tattoo?
A: Leave your bandage on for at least an hour. After removing the bandage, wash the tattooed skin thoroughly with hot water and a mild, unscented soap. Make sure you pat it dry and let it air-dry for at least an hour after washing.
Apply a very thin layer of moisturiser or lotion—just enough to moisturize the area a bit. Remember to keep washing your tattoo every day without submerging it, and to use moisturiser once or twice a day to help it heal.
Q: Will These Guidelines Change If My Tattoo Is On A Certain Body Part, Or A Certain Size?
A: Nope! Wash clean, pat dry, moisturise. These basic rules apply no matter how big your tattoo is, or where it is on your body.
Take Good Care Of Your Skin So Your Tattoo Heals Faster
Whatever keeps your skin healthy will help your tattoo heal faster. Eat a balanced diet full of vitamins and minerals, drink lots of water every day, and slap on plenty of sunscreen—it’s that simple.
What About Dry Healing?
Some artists swear by dry healing, which means not using any tattoo cream or moisturiser while your tattoo heals. You're allowed to wash it from time to time, but absolutely no lotion or balm will be applied. While this sounds like the perfectly natural way to make your tattoo heal, it doesn't address the problems of scabbing and itching.
If you have sensitive skin that is easily irritated by most products, you could try this method. But for the average person getting a tattoo, moisturising is best, especially in places with hot climates like Australia. The heat can make skin dry out faster, so a good cream will keep your tattooed skin nice and hydrated.
Our Five Best Products For Tattoo Care
1. Emla Cream
Emla is a numbing cream which has pain relievers lidocaine and prilocaine. You can apply this before getting a tattoo, so the process won’t be as painful. It should be applied at least one hour before your session.
As it is glycerin based, it can make your skin a bit slippery, so tell your tattoo artist first before you apply it. The pain relief that it offers is especially great for more intricate tattoos, or tattoos on sensitive areas full of nerves. You can buy it for $9.95 here.
2. Savlon Antiseptic Cream
Keeping a new tattoo clean is critical to prevent it from getting infected. Savlon cream will keep bacteria at bay so it can heal properly. It's mild and moisturizing, so it can keep your skin smooth too! You can buy Savlon here for $5.99
3. Bepanthen Nappy Care Ointment
This product is used to relieve diaper rash for babies, so in a way, it makes sense that it would help reduce itchiness for post tattoo healing. Many tattoo artists swear by this emollient cream full of vitamins. As odd as it may seem to use Bepanthen, tattoo peeling and itching will be stopped in its tracks with a dab of this. Buy Bepanthen here for $9.49.
4. Palmer's Cocoa Butter Lotion with Vitamin E
It smells like chocolate because it’s full of cocoa butter, and it will help relieve the itching of dry, healing tattoos. This cult fave is known for being the perfect deep moisturiser. You only need a little bit to keep your tattoo from peeling and flaking. Get it the 1L value bottle for $15 here.
This OTC ointment is a pretty thick moisturiser, so just spread a thin layer on whenever your tattoo flakes or gets itchy. It has no preservatives or fragrances, so it’s good for sensitive skin. It’s used to help wounds heal faster, so this is perfect for speeding up the tattoo healing process. Get the 50g tube for $14.95 here.
If you’re unsure which of these recommended products to get, or want to clarify any more questions, always talk to your artist. They’re familiar with all the proper tattoo aftercare guidelines and can give you their expert advice on how to help your tattoo heal. Hopefully, this guide has given you a good idea of what to expect and what to do to care for your new tattoo!