Tattoo Aftercare Secrets: Proven Tips for Optimal Healing

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Congratulations on your new tattoo! You’ve just become a walking piece of art, a canvas adorned with work that speaks to you as an individual.

But before you go running off without a further though – your journey isn’t over yet.

In fact, it’s just beginning. Enter the world of tattoo aftercare, where you’ll learn to nurture your new creation and keep it looking as fresh as the day it was born.

In this guide, we’ll dive deep into the ins and outs of tattoo aftercare. We’ll explore the tattoo healing process, share essential aftercare tips, and help you navigate common issues that may arise.

So sit back, relax, and take this time to understand why this step is crucial in the lasthing quality and health of your newly acquired artwork.

The Tattoo Healing Process: A Journey Of Patience

Once you have made the decision to get a tattoo, it becomes a very important experience.

It’s not just about the art itself. It’s also about the incredible journey your body undergoes to heal and preserve your new masterpiece. Let’s break down the tattoo healing process stage by stage.

Stage 1: The Fresh Wound (Days 1-3)

Imagine your new tattoo as a fresh wound – because that’s exactly what it is.

In the first few days, your ink may be red, swollen, and oozing a mixture of blood, plasma, and ink.

This is all part of the process and whilst not everyone’s favourite part, just the way things are.

Your body is working hard to start the healing process, sending its best troops to the front lines.

Stage 2: The Itchy, Flaky Phase (Days 3-7)

Imagine your new tattoo as a fresh wound – because that’s exactly what it is.

In the first few days, your ink may be red, swollen, and oozing a mixture of blood, plasma, and ink.

This is all part of the process and whilst not everyone’s favourite part, just the way things are.

Your body is working hard to start the healing process, sending its best troops to the front lines.

Stage 3: The Peeling, Scabby Era (Weeks 1-2)

Welcome to the world of peeling and scabbing, where your tattoo sheds its old skin like a snake.

It’s not the most glamorous phase, but it’s a sign that your body is doing its job.

As tempting as it may be, don’t pick at those scabs. Let them fall off naturally and trust the process.

Stage 4: The Grand Finale (Weeks 2-4)

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the final stage! Your tattoo should be fully healed within a month, give or take.

But keep in mind, everyone’s body is different. Factors like the size and location of your tattoo, your individual healing powers, and how well you’ve followed aftercare instructions can all impact healing time.

Essential Tattoo Aftercare: Dos and Don'ts

Now that you’re familiar with the healing process, let’s talk about how to care for your new ink.

Proper aftercare is crucial for preventing infection, promoting healing, and keeping your tattoo looking its best. Here are some essential dos and don’ts to keep in mind.

The Dos:

      • DO follow your tattoo artist’s aftercare instructions religiously. They know their stuff, they want the best for you and their work to heal as well as possible.


      • DO wash your hands thoroughly before touching your tattoo. You don’t want any nasty bacteria getting into the wound and causing you any unnecessary grief.


      • DO use fragrance-free, hypoallergenic products on your tattoo. Your skin is sensitive, so treat it with kindness, even if it is just for this window of healing!!


      • DO keep your tattoo moisturised with a thin layer of tattoo-specific lotion or ointment. A little goes a long way, so don’t overdo it.


      • DO protect your tattoo from direct sunlight, especially during the healing process. Think of your tattoo as a vampire – it needs to avoid the sun at all costs. And no, it’s not recommended you begin biting people in this window..


    • DO wear loose, breathable clothing over your tattoo. Give your ink some room to breathe and avoid anything too tight or restrictive.

The Dont's:

  • DON’T use harsh soaps, scrubs, or exfoliants on your tattoo. Be gentle, like you’re handling a delicate flower.
  • DON’T soak your tattoo in water, including baths, swimming pools, and hot tubs. Showers are okay but keep them short and sweet.
  • DON’T pick, scratch, or rub your tattoo, no matter how itchy it gets. Hands off, my friend.
  • DON’T expose your tattoo to direct sunlight or tanning beds. If you must be in the sun, cover up with clothing or a high-SPF, fragrance-free sunscreen.
  • DON’T use petroleum-based products on your tattoo, as they can clog pores and trap bacteria. Stick to tattoo-specific aftercare products.
Close-up view of a heavily tattooed arm with various black and grey designs following our tattoo aftercare advice

The Best Tattoo Aftercare Products: A Buyer's Guide

With so many tattoo aftercare products on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of the best options to keep your ink looking fresh:

Fragrance-free, hypoallergenic lotion: Look for brands like Aveeno, Lubriderm, or Eucerin. These gentle lotions will keep your tattoo moisturised without irritating your skin.

Tattoo-specific aftercare products: Brands like Tattoo Goo, Hustle Butter, and H2Ocean offer specialised aftercare products designed specifically for tattoos. These can include lotions, ointments, and even soap.

Unscented, antibacterial soap: Opt for a gentle, liquid antibacterial soap to clean your tattoo. Avoid bar soaps, as they can harbour bacteria.

Sunscreen: Once your tattoo is fully healed, protect it from the sun’s rays with a high-SPF, fragrance-free sunscreen. Look for brands like EltaMD, Neutrogena, or La Roche-Posay.

Remember, when it comes to tattoo aftercare products, less is more.

You don’t need to slather your tattoo in a thick layer of lotion or ointment. A thin, even layer is all you need to keep your ink moisturised and happy.

Troubleshooting Common Tattoo Healing Issues

Even with the best aftercare routine, you may encounter some bumps in the road during the healing process. Here’s how to deal with common tattoo healing issues:


Itching is a normal part of the healing process, but it can be maddening.

To relieve the itch, try gently slapping the area, applying a cold compress, or taking an oatmeal bath. Avoid scratching at all costs, as it can damage your tattoo and lead to infection.

Scabbing and Peeling:

Scabbing and peeling are also par for the course when it comes to tattoo healing.

As tempting as it may be, don’t pick at the scabs or peeling skin. Let your body do its thing, and the scabs will fall off when they’re good and ready.

Redness and Swelling:

Some redness and swelling are normal in the first few days after getting a tattoo.

However, if the redness and swelling persist or worsen, it could be a sign of infection. Keep an eye out for other symptoms like fever, chills, or oozing pus.

If you suspect an infection, don’t hesitate to contact your tattoo artist, or head to a doctor for a second opinion.

Long-Term Tattoo Care: Fresh for a Lifetime

Tattoo aftercare doesn’t end once your ink is fully healed. To keep your tattoo looking vibrant and sharp for years to come, follow these long-term care tips:

Protect your tattoo from the sun by applying a high-SPF, fragrance-free sunscreen whenever you’re going to be outside. The sun’s UV rays can fade and damage your tattoo over time.

Keep your tattooed skin moisturised to prevent dryness, flaking, and fading. Use a gentle, fragrance-free lotion or moisturizer daily.

Avoid using harsh soaps, scrubs, or exfoliants on your tattooed skin. These can strip away the ink and cause your tattoo to fade or blur.

If you notice your tattoo starting to fade or look dull, consider getting a touch-up from your tattoo artist. Touch-ups can help refresh your ink and keep it looking its best.

If you have any concerns about your tattoo, don’t hesitate to reach out to your tattoo artist or a dermatologist. They can provide expert advice and help you troubleshoot any issues that arise.

When Tattoo Removal Is the Only Option

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we end up with a tattoo that we just don’t love anymore.

If you find yourself in this situation, tattoo removal may be an option. The most common methods of tattoo removal include:

Laser tattoo removal:

This method uses high-intensity laser light to break up the ink particles in your skin, allowing your body to absorb and remove them over time.

Surgical excision:

For smaller tattoos, a dermatologist or plastic surgeon may be able to surgically remove the tattooed skin and close the wound with stitches.


This method involves using a rotating abrasive device to sand down the top layers of skin, removing the tattooed area.

Keep in mind that tattoo removal is not a quick or easy process. It often requires multiple treatment sessions, can be painful, and may not completely remove the tattoo. It can also be expensive, with costs ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on the size and complexity of the tattoo.

If you’re considering tattoo removal, it’s important to do your research and consult with a qualified dermatologist or tattoo removal specialist. One such expert is our partner, Zapp Tattoo Removal, located conveniently at the same location as our tattoo studio. Zapp Tattoo Removal is a trusted name in the industry, offering state-of-the-art laser tattoo removal services.

The team at Zapp Tattoo Removal, led by certified laser technicians, uses the latest technology to safely and effectively remove unwanted tattoos. They offer personalised treatment plans tailored to each client’s unique needs, ensuring the best possible results.

If you’re ready to say goodbye to an old tattoo and start fresh, visit Zapp Tattoo Removal’s website to learn more about their services and book a consultation.

When to Seek Professional Help

While most tattoo healing issues can be managed at home with proper aftercare, there are some situations where it’s important to seek professional help. Contact your tattoo artist or a doctor if you experience any of the following:

Signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, warmth, pus, fever, or chills

Allergic reactions to tattoo ink or aftercare products, such as rash, hives, or difficulty breathing

Excessive pain, swelling, or redness that doesn’t improve with home care

Slow healing or non-healing tattoos that don’t seem to be improving after several weeks

Concerns about the appearance of your tattoo or the tattoo removal process

Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health and the health of your tattoo. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if something doesn’t seem right.

The Bottom Line

Getting a tattoo is a big decision, but it’s also the start of an incredible journey. By following proper aftercare instructions and using the right products, you can help your tattoo heal beautifully and stay vibrant for years to come.

Remember, everyone’s tattoo healing experience is unique. What works for one person may not work for another. Listen to your body, pay attention to how your tattoo is healing, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Above all, enjoy your new ink! Your tattoo is a work of art, a symbol of your individuality and creativity. Wear it with pride, take care of it with love, and let it be a reminder of the beautiful, badass human being you are.

Now go forth, my inked-up friend, and show the world your true colors. And don’t forget the sunscreen – your tattoo (and your skin) will thank you for it.

This method uses high-intensity laser light to break up the ink particles in your skin, allowing your body to absorb and remove them over time.

Omnia Tattoo is Melbourne’s premier tattoo studio, where artistic vision meets world-class craftsmanship. Our team of talented tattoo artists specializes in a wide range of styles, from intricate fine line work to bold traditional designs. We’re committed to creating tattoos that reflect your unique story and style.

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