The Ultimate Tattoo Aftercare Guide

Congrats! You’ve just got your first (or another) tattoo. The most difficult part is over, but now comes the slightly annoying and tricky part. Taking care of your tattoo for the first 2-3 weeks can be stressful. After all the horror stories you read, tattoo aftercare seems like a daunting task. But luckily it doesn’t have to be. You just need to know the rights steps and to follow them daily.


Here is our ultimate guide on tattoo aftercare. Below is everything you need to know to properly take care of your fresh tattoo once you step out of the parlor.

The Ultimate Tattoo Aftercare Guide

The First Day
Your first day of tattoo aftercare might vary depending on your artist’s recommendations. Most commonly however, your artist will hydrate your tattoo, then wrap it with clear film or a bandage to keep it protected.

1. Though you will be dying to look at your tattoo, make sure to keep your bandage in tact for the first 2-4 hours after you walk out of the tattoo shop.

Some artists might recommend leaving it on longer, but it depends on who you consult. The most important is to keep it protected for the first few hours. Depending on tattoo placement, aftercare can be easy or complicated.

2. After removing your bandage, clean your hands. Once your hands are clean, gently cleanse the tattoo with unscented antibacterial soap.

3. Let air dry completely for 15 minutes or very lightly pat dry using a clean paper towel.

4. Rehydrate using a thin layer of Aquaphor or another approved tattoo aftercare product.

The Ultimate Tattoo Aftercare Guide

Days 2-3
These will undoubtedly be the most sensitive days of the tattoo aftercare process. It’s important not to rebandage a tattoo after day 1.

1. Avoid showering with hot water or using scented soaps.

2. Let air dry or pat dry gently before applying another layer of tattoo cream.


3. Keep the tattoo hydrated throughout the day, but make sure to only apply a thin layer to ensure that your skin (and tattoo) can still breathe.

4. Light scabbing might start to form. Scabbing is completely normal, but avoid washing/picking/removing it as much as possible. The scabs will naturally disappear.

If big scabs are accidentally picked off or removed, make sure none of the ink has come out with it.

Days 4-7
You should start noticing it’s easier to shower, less painful to move around, and you can finally wear what you want. But you still need to take caution.

1. Swimming or lounging in hot baths is still a big no-no.

2. Continue to hydrate your tattoo, but less frequently. At least twice a day, morning and night or as needed.

3. Scabbing, if any, should be minimal.

4. Continue cleansing the tattoo as needed. Minimum recommendation is twice per day.

Weeks 2-3
After your first week, you should have a strong grasp on your daily tattoo aftercare routine.

1. Ensure there is no infection by checking your skin around the tattoo. Any burning or itching should be gone.

2. The skin around your tattoo should start looking and appearing more natural. Tattoos can cause slight burning and raising of the skin, but after the first week this should start to disappear.

3. Continue to cleanse and hydrate as needed.

Weeks 3+
Your tattoo should not be oozing, bleeding, or scabbing. Instead, it should be smooth and not painful to touch. Follow up with your artist to make sure you don’t need touch ups or further coloring, etc. You can finally resume your active lifestyle!


Knowing how to properly take care of your tattoo is crucial. Make sure to follow these steps in order to keep infection at bay and protect your tattoo.