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Tattoo aftercare tips: What you need to know

Find out what a tattoo pro had to say about aftercare

Man with tattooted arms
Allef Vinicius/Unsplash

A tattoo is more than just a piece of art — it’s a piece of you. Unless you’re hopping on the temporary tattoo trend, you’re going to want your tat to look good 10 years down the line. That means it’s important to start properly caring for it immediately. Not taking extra precautions with your new tattoo can lead to scarring, scabbing, or permanent damage to your new expensive work of art.

Thankfully, there are a lot of ways to approach tattoo aftercare. In this roundup, we’re going to focus on a few all-natural tips and tricks, as supplied by Alfredo Ortiz of Brooklyn Grooming.

Tatoo artist giving a tatoo
Patrick Lefevre/Alamy

Tattoo aftercare tips

Practice tattoo before care

You might not think that a tattoo needs much care beforehand, because, well, it’s just a patch of skin. However, you must make sure you and your skin are absolutely ready to receive the tattoo. That means you need to be moisturizing, cleansing, and actively protecting your precious epidermis from the sun’s harmful rays.

Find a hygienic parlor

Engage in a thorough vetting process when choosing a place to get your tattoo. “Think about it: You’re going to a place where they’re basically going to grate your skin,” Ortiz said. “You have to make sure the place is hygienic and clean so you don’t get an infection.”

Think like a vampire

A lot of people like to get their tattoos just before summer starts, then show off their new ink during the warm season. Unfortunately for these folks, tattoos do not “weather” sunlight very well. Instead of showing off your new tattoo, you should try to keep your ink covered as best you can when you go outside. Don’t worry, that tattoo will be on your skin forever — there’ll be plenty of summers to show it off.

Keep your tattoo clean

Though you can’t go swimming, it’s fine to take quick showers. As it turns out, showering with a tattoo isn’t that big of a deal. “Just try to keep your tattoo away from the actual water flow,” Ortiz added. “Don’t rub it, obviously, and don’t scrub it.” Be sure to use a gentle application of mild soap to keep your tattoo clean.

Wear loose clothing

Your skin becomes very sensitive in the days after getting your ink. For this reason, you shouldn’t wear tight clothing around your tattoo. “I’ve seen people get lower back tattoos on Venice Beach, then just put on their normal pants and walk away,” Ortiz explained. “It’s like sandpaper on the skin. So you don’t want anything tight, and nothing that rubs against the fresh ink of the tattoo.”

Cut out drinking alcohol

At least for the next 48 hours. Alcohol works as a blood thinner, which can cause excessive bleeding around the site of your new tattoo. Blood pooling up around fresh ink could lead to smudges that last a lifetime — it’s just not worth it. Even in small amounts, alcohol helps ink leak out of your skin and will dim your new tattoo quicker.

It’s important to let your tattoo heal before beginning to consume alcohol again. Especially if it is still wrapped up following your visit to the tattoo parlor. Going out to a crowded bar, drinking, and sweating all contribute to an ideal breeding ground for bacteria under that plastic wrap.

Consider dry healing

A tattoo is more than just a doodle on the surface of your skin. It’s a wound etched into your body forever. There are a couple schools of thought when it comes to healing a tattoo: wet healing, which involves the application of all “wet” medicines and ointments; and dry healing, which involves a more hands-off, natural approach. Ortiz is a proponent of the latter method.

“With dry healing, you don’t use anything at first — just water and you just let it dry. After about three days, when the first layer starts scabbing, that’s when you start applying the balm,” he stated. “You must resist the urge to pick the scab, and let it come off naturally.”

Brooklyn Grooming tattoo balm
Brooklyn Grooming/Facebook

Best natural tattoo aftercare

After about three weeks, your tattoo should be more or less completely healed. For the remainder of your life, you can use the Brooklyn Grooming tattoo balm whenever you need a little extra moisture.

“I use it all the time,” Ortiz said. “It’s a personal preference. Sometimes my tattoos get a little dry and it’s like using a moisturizer. It’s really up to you — any time you feel like you need an extra boost, go ahead and use it. Our tattoo balm has unrefined sesame oil, hempseed oil, shea butter — all of which will help your tattoo heal naturally.”

You can buy Brooklyn Grooming’s Tattoo Balm on the website for $22 for a 2-ounce tin.

Other great natural tattoo aftercare options

Fisticuffs tattoo balm
Grave Before Shave

Fisticuffs Tattoo Balm

Fisticuffs Tattoo Balm is pretty much aromatherapy in a tin. Lavender, eucalyptus, and frankincense round out this all-natural scent experience.

Redemption Tattoo Lubricant and Aftercare
Dear Mr. Villian

Redemption Tattoo Lubricant and Aftercare

Redemption tattoo care is a petroleum-based system of salves and creams that lubricates damaged skin. The all-natural lotions are fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and USDA-certified. Redemption is sold in a pack of three 6-ounce containers.

Dr Bronners Organic Magic Balm
Dr. Bronner's

Dr. Bronner’s Organic Magic Balm

Dr. Bronner’s Organic Magic Balm is powered with soothing coconut and jojoba oil to repair skin and encourage fast healing. Camphor and peppermint oils also give it a pleasant perfume that’s neutral and sweet.

CeraVe Healing Ointment

CeraVe Healing Ointment

CeraVe Healing Ointment could make an excellent affordable option for those on a budget. The gentle, non-irritating formula goes on smooth, and it works quickly to heal dry and chafed skin.

Susie Q Skin Aftercare Set
Susie Q Skin

Susie Q Skin’s Aftercare Set

The Susie Q Skin’s aftercare set features an array of balms crafted from therapeutic essential oils, which work together to reduce scarring, itching, and scabbing.

Hustle Butter pic product on a white background.
Hustle Butter

Hustle Butter

Hustle Butter is an awesome vegan solution tattoo aficionados can use before, during, and after the inking process. It combines shea, mango, and aloe butters together with a bevy of essential oils for an invigorating sensation (5 ounces for $20).

EiR Tattoo Balm

EiR Tattoo Balm

EiR Tattoo Balm incorporates shea butter with coconut oil, vitamin E oil, and dried rose petals to create an ultra-lush cream that feels incredible on the skin. Plus, it’s totally vegan, which could be great for eco-friendly customers.

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Hunter Reis
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Hunter has worked with E! News and Entertainment Tonight, where he won a Daytime Emmy in 2022 for video production.
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