Healing Tattoos & Aftercare- My Personal Do’s & Don’ts

Whether this is your first tattoo or you’ve been under the needle numerous times, tattoo aftercare is always important.  Proper aftercare helps avoid infection, helps the tattoo heal properly, (potentially) helps save you and your artist the time it would take for touch-ups, and helps prevent fading and blurring of your new tattoo.
There are many theories of what works best, as everyone’s skin can be different, so it’s all a matter of figuring out what works best for you.  But there are a few variables I like to keep controlled each time I heal a new piece.
DO :
  • DO wash your hands and dry them with a clean towel or paper towels.
  • DO wash your new tattoo with unscented antibacterial soap and water about three or four times a day (at most five, over moisturizing can cause issues like rashes or can actually dry your skin out more and do the opposite of what you are aiming for).
  • DO pat dry with clean paper towels after washed, then wait 5-10 minutes until skin is completely dry before applying a *THIN* layer of healing cream over the tattooed area (if the skin isn’t completely dry, the healing cream won’t penetrate the skin completely.
  • DO wear baggier clothes so your tattoo can breathe, and so material isn’t rubbing against the piece tightly.
  • DO make sure your clothing is clean.
  • After the first “peel”, I stop using healing cream and switch to a lighter lotion.  I use a non scented lotion about three to five times per day.  (always wash hands before touching tattoo)
  • Assure that bedding and towels are clean and wash sheets often.


  • DON’T allow it to touch dirty objects such as walls, counters, tables, gym equipment, cell phones  etc. This can of course cause infection.
  • DON’T pick or scratch at the tattoo even if it itches like crazy – instead, just apply some lotion or wash it and pat it dry. Picking at it can cause pieces of ink to fall out and can cause you to need a touch-up which is inconvenient for both yourself and the artist, and is easily avoidable if you are careful/mindful during the healing process.
  • DON’T expose it to any sort of sunlight in general until at least three or four weeks after the tattoo is done. Sun is always bad for tattoos because it fades the ink whether it is new or healed.
  • DON’T swim or get in a hot tub until it is completely healed. This can cause all kinds of infections.  Also avoid soaking in a bathtub.
  • Try not to sleep on the tattoo…meaning don’t let the tattooed skin be planted on the sheets or else it could get stuck to them and pull ink off if you try to rip the sheets from the tattoo they’re stuck to. This happened to me one time which was a hassle to fix and the piece had to get touched up. What you should do in this situation is take the sheets or whatever the tattoo got stuck to into the shower and soak in warm/hot water so it naturally peels off easily without having to rip in order to separate.

This is just how I personally heal my own work, and what has been successful for me.   I’ve learned by taking artists instructions,  researching online, and figured out through experience what works best on my tattoos .

Remember that everybody’s skin heals differently, and this is definitely not the only way to heal tattoos.  It’s a matter of both personal preference, what works best for you, and what the artist who completed your piece personally recommends as well.

I’ve heard of all kinds of methods- some people even believe in “dry healing” and literally not using any products at all, some people wrap pieces in Saniderm or similar products for a few days to protect completely – then once the Saniderm is pulled off the piece is healed or mostly healed.

Again, I always recommend talking to your artist after sessions and asking them for their advice.  I’ve had good luck with my healing method, but I know that each artist has their own preferred method and it never hurts to talk with them and get their tips as well!

Thanks for looking/reading! Share with a friend who may find this helpful!  And if you’re looking for a quality realism artist and you live in the United States, check out my ebook “A Tattoo Collector’s Guide to the Best Realim Tattoo Artists Across America” here!!   https://realismtattooguide.com

1 Comment
  1. Shawn says

    Great advice! Thanks for sharing.

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