Tattoo aftercare is probably the most important step towards a healed, healthy tattoo. However, because aftercare, or rather lack of it, can easily make things go wrong with the tattoo, some people go overboard with some aftercare steps, like tattoo moisturizing for example.
Keeping the tattoo hydrated and moisturized is pretty important, but overdoing it can be counterproductive and lead to some healing issues.
So, if you’re guilty of over-moisturizing your tattoo, you’re at the right place. In the following paragraphs, we’ll discuss tattoo moisturizing, the risks of overdoing it, and how to fix the issues resulting from over-moisturizing. Let’s get started!
Tattoo Moisturizing: Quick Insight
Why Do You Moisturize a Tattoo?
When you get a new tattoo, it will take between 24 and 48 hours to stop oozing blood and ink, and start the process of closing and healing. That is when your aftercare routine takes a new level and focuses on keeping the tattoo healing properly. One of the important steps of the healing process is lotion and ointment application to keep the tattoo hydrated and moisturized.
The reasons moisturizing is essential in the aftercare routine are numerous. For example, lotion and ointment applications can;
- Help with tattoo itching
- Prevent tattoo flaking and scabbing
- Prevent tattoo peeling issues
- Keep the skin hydrated and healthy
- Prevent the tattooed area from drying out
- Prevent tattoo cracking
- Promote new skin cells and faster healing
If you do not moisturize your tattoo, you’re risking it to peel too much and mess up the design. Furthermore, the tattoo will become unbearably itchy and you might even start scratching the area, which could also result in issues, such as a tattoo infection. Not to mention the drying out of the tattoo, which could lead to cracking, flaking, and serious scabbing as the tattoo heals.
How Often Should You Moisturize Your Tattoo?
Professional tattoo artists always recommended one moisturizes their tattoo(s) once or twice a day. The best way to moisturize a tattoo is by doing it in the morning and in the evening. It is also important to apply lotion or ointment after taking a shower, to protect the tattoo from drying out.
Note: Make sure to wait between 10 and 20 minutes to apply lotion/ointment onto the tattoo after a shower. In that time, the tattoo will dry naturally, so when you do apply a moisturizer, it will soak into the skin nicely. By applying lotion onto a wet tattoo, you’re risking overdoing it.
How Much of a Moisturizer Should You Apply?
It is essential to only apply a thin layer of a fragrance-free, organic lotion or ointment over the tattoo. Many seem to slap on a lot of lotion onto their tattoos, believing it will moisturize and hydrate the tattoo more thoroughly. However, such an application can only lead to over-moisturizing a tattoo.
What Are The Risks of Over Moisturizing a Tattoo?
By applying thicker layers of lotion or ointment, several times a day (or every hour or two as some people do), you’re risking over-moisturizing a tattoo. By over-moisturizing a tattoo, you can cause the following problems;
- Due to excess moisture, the tattoo won’t be able to dry and heal
- Excess moisture can create a perfect environment for bacteria and germ growth
- Over moisturizing can lead to tattoo inflammation and infection
- Excess moisture can cause clogged pores since the moisturizer prevents the skin from breathing
- Excess moisture can cause the tattooed skin to break out
To avoid these issues, make sure to follow the moisturizing rules we mentioned before. However, make sure to not under moisturizing your tattoo as well.
Some people are afraid they might over-moisturize their tattoo, so they leave it dehydrated, which results in heavy scabbing and tattoo dryness. So, make sure to stay in the middle and simply apply a thin layer of lotion/ointment twice a day.
How Can I Fix an Over Moisturized Tattoo?
If you’ve applied too much lotion or ointment on a tattoo, here’s how you can fix it;
- Make sure to wipe off the excess lotion/ointment by using a paper towel or a soft, cotton towel; be gentle and do not push the skin or swipe across the tattoo with the towel quickly and harshly.
- Let the tattoo dry and soak in the remaining lotion; if it’s taking too long you can use a fan on its lowest settings to blow warm air into the tattoo. However, this can be potentially dangerous if you bring the tattoo too close to the fan. Make sure to keep the fan away from the tattoo 30cm to 50cm.
- Do not reapply any lotion for the rest of the day. Let the tattoo soak in and process the lotions that have already been applied. However, if you do shower later, you can apply the thinnest possible layer of lotion just to prevent over-drying the tattoo.
- Continue applying the lotion/ointment the next day as we recommended; twice a day, preferably once in the morning and once in the evening, especially after taking a shower.
What Are The Risks Of Lack of Tattoo Moisturizing?
Just like it is easy to over-moisturize a tattoo, it can be even easier to under moisturize it. Some of the risks of lack of hydration and moisturizing include;
- Drying out of the tattoo
- Cracking of the tattoo
- Scabs not falling off
- Excessive itchiness
- Improper tattoo peeling
- Overall tattoo healing issues (prolonged healing time)
Every type of supposed tattoo aftercare that goes from one extreme to the other will disrupt your tattoo healing process in one way or another.
Make sure to always follow your tattoo artist’s aftercare routine rules and do not go overboard with your own ideas of how much or not at all should your tattoo be moisturized. Of course, you should listen to your body, but, by over-or under moisturizing, you’re not doing yourself or your tattoo any favors.
Other FAQS Regarding Tattoo Moisturizing
What Moisturizer Should I Use For My Tattoo?
We recommend you always go for tattoo-friendly, fragrance-free, non-irritating, and organic lotions and ointments. Here are some of our favorite tattoo moisturizers;
- Bepanthen Diaper Care Ointment – this ointment has a gentle formulation made to soothe a tattoo during its healing process. The ointment helps with the soreness and itching since it is an antiseptic cream. Professional tattoo artists recommend the Bepanthene ointment to speed up the recovery and nourish the tattoed skin with vitamin B5.
- Brooklyn Grooming Tattoo Balm – this balm is specifically made for tattoo aftercare, and it is designed by professional tattoo artists. The balm has a rich, regenerative formula that can promote faster healing. It contains nourishing ingredients like shea butter, hemp, and sesame seed oil, as well as organic vitamin E. The balm is organic, unscented, and vegan.
- Aveeno Sheer Hydration Daily Moisturizing Lotion – the Aveeno lotion is perfect when you want to increase the hydration of the tattoo. It is perfect for cases where the tattoo is dry and under moisturized. The lotion formula is rich in glycerin, caprylyl glycol, and citric acid, which keep the skin hydrated for 24 hours. It is also fragrance-free and suitable for sensitive skin.
Should I Moisturize My Tattoo After It’s Fully Healed?
If you want to keep your tattoo looking vibrant and radiant even years after you’ve got it, then you should keep moisturizing it even after it’s fully healed. The aftercare routine doesn’t simply apply to the healing process. Even after your tattoo is healed, you still need to take care of it.
So, make sure to apply high-quality, fragrance-free, non-irritating lotion or ointment, and do not even think about going anywhere without applying proper sunscreen. This will help your tattoo stay fresh-looking for years. Moreover, proper care will prevent premature tattoo fading or other issues.
Can I Use Vaseline To Moisturize My Tattoo?
Contrary to the popular belief, Vaseline doesn’t provide any moisturizing effects. It is made of petroleum jelly which doesn’t soak into the skin. Instead, it stays on top of the skin creating a protective barrier.
However, when the tattoo is healing, Vaseline can keep it over moisturized and even lead to a tattoo infection. Because the protective barrier doesn’t allow the tattoo to breathe, it doesn’t dry and the healing process is significantly longer than it should be.
The only time it is acceptable to apply (the thinnest layer) of Vaseline onto a healing tattoo is when you shower. A layer of Vaseline will protect the tattoo from the water and keep it safe and dry. However, once you’re done showering, make sure to remove Vaseline, wash the tattoo, and moisturize with a thin layer of lotion.
Once the tattoo is fully healed, you’re free to apply Vaseline as a form of tattoo care, but even then, try not to overdo it. Vaseline can clog pores and promote skin breakout.
Some people believe there isn’t such a thing as over-moisturizing a tattoo. But, unfortunately, they’re wrong. A tattoo can get easily overhydrated, which can create some serious healing issues. To avoid those issues, just keep on following the aftercare routine your tattoo artist recommended, and try not to introduce new steps to your tattoo care without consulting a professional first.