If you’re reading this, chances are you just got a new tattoo recently, and that is a truly awesome thing. Getting tattooed, especially for the first time, is super exciting and worthy of a celebration. After all, you just received something that is supposed to last forever on your skin, and that is a pretty big deal in itself.
But, in order for your new tattoo to get all nice and healed, you need to take special care of it. This means following the aftercare routine recommended by your tattoo artist, among other small changes you might have to implement until the tattoo is healed.
Now, one of the staple recommendations when talking about a good aftercare routine is the idea of regular tattoo moisturizing. Now, there is some truth to this, of course, but how exactly is one supposed to moisturize a fresh tattoo? Are there any rules as to how long one should wait before applying ointments and lotions, or can we just start slapping lotion on the tattoo the moment we leave the tattoo parlor?
To answer these, and many other questions, we’ve decided to tackle the topic of tattoos and lotions once and for all. To help you avoid all the Internet speculation and misinformation, we’ll talk about when and how you can put lotion and ointments on your new, fresh ink, therefore, without further ado, let’s get right into it!
When Should I Start Moisturizing My Tattoo
Tattoo Process – 101
Before we get into the topic of this article, we feel it’s important to cover some of the most important aspects of the tattoo process as well as the tattoo aftercare.
Now, for those unfamiliar, let’s briefly go over the main points of the tattoo process. First of all, the tattoo artist is using a tattoo gun and tattoo needle to poke your skin thousands of times in one minute. During the tattoo process, the skin undergoes trauma, which over the process turns it basically into an open wound.
Because of the needle penetrating into the skin, the tattoo can bleed and ooze excess ink. The bleeding and oozing can very well continue into the next 24 to 48 hours after the tattoo has been completed. This is completely normal, and there is nothing to worry about. Your body is simply battling the ‘foreign object’ in your skin, trying to get rid of it, or at least the excess of it. As the first and second day pass, the skin starts closing and healing, which is right in time for your tattoo aftercare routine.
Now, this is a broad explanation of what a tattoo process involves. However, our focus is on the following aspects of this process;
- A fresh tattoo is an open wound
- Fresh tattoos bleed and ooze excess ink the first 24 to 48 hours
- The aftercare routine starts immediately after you get the tattoo done
Once your tattoo is done and you leave the tattoo studio, you need to start taking care of it right away. On the first day, your tattoo care will simply involve replacing the tattoo cover and cleaning the excess blood and ink. Until your tattoo stops bleeding and oozing, you can’t really do much. But more on that in the following paragraphs.
The first steps of a tattoo aftercare routine are pretty boring. All you need to do is briefly clean the tattoo and wait for it to start closing and drying up. This usually takes between 24 and 48 hours, as we’ve mentioned. Even though some usually go through this part of the tattoo aftermath quite briefly, we want to emphasize how important it is to keep the tattoo protected when it’s still open and bleeding.
This is the perfect storm where, due to lack of protection and care, your tattoo can get infected. So, make sure to keep it covered, clean, and away from any potential contaminants (pets, dirty clothes, dirty sheets, and overall dirty environment).
Now, after the tattoo has stopped bleeding and it’s starting to close up, it’s time to approach the tattoo aftercare seriously. This part involves regular tattoo cleaning, moisturizing, and general care of one’s body, nutrition, and even clothes one is wearing. But, when comes the part where you put lotion on a tattoo?
Moisturising New Tattoo
Between the first two days when the tattoo is still bleeding and the days when the tattoo starts drying up and healing, when are you supposed to begin applying lotion and ointment?
During the first 24 to 48 hours you should NOT apply any kind of ointment or lotion onto the tattoo. As we mentioned, this is the period where the tattoo is an open wound, which means it is susceptible to all kinds of infections and inflammation. Applying lotion onto a fresh tattoo means you’ll be introducing bacteria to the wound, increasing the risk of infection. Moreover, the tattoo is at this stage super moist from all the blood and excess ink. Applying lotion can increase the moisture levels, even more, preventing the wound from drying out and closing.
So, when exactly can you start moisturizing your new tattoo?
Now that we know that applying lotion to a brand new tattoo isn’t an option, it is important to know when to actually start moisturizing the tattoo. Starting too soon or too late with the hydration of the tattoo can increase the risk of tattoo wrinkling, over-scabbing, itching, etc.
So, it is best to start applying lotion on the third day; the first two days are reserved for the tattoo to stop bleeding and to start drying out. Once the tattoo is closed, which is usually on the third day, you can start cleaning and moisturizing your tattoo regularly. Now, this doesn’t mean you would be slapping lotion on the tattoo every few minutes.
Regular moisturization means you’ll be applying the lotion up to two times per day maximum; once in the morning and once in the evening/at night. It is also important to apply only thin layers of lotion or ointment. Otherwise, you’d be risking over moisturization, and by that prolong the healing time, promoting bacteria growth, and potentially an infection.
It is not only important to know when to start applying lotion to a new tattoo, but also how and how much. Moreover, one of the most important things you should do before applying the lotion is to check the tattoo (see if it’s closed and if it has stopped bleeding completely), and of course, wash your hands before you actually touch it. Try to avoid situations in which you randomly touch the tattoo, want to peel it, or even scratch it. These are a big NO unless you want the tattoo to get infected.
To Sum Up
If you’re having a hard time going through the article, remembering every single important thing you need to do or check out before applying lotion/ointment on your new tattoo, here’s a shortened version of the information you need;
- You should NOT apply lotion/ointment on a brand new tattoo, meaning in the first 24 to 48 hours.
- The tattoo requires some time to stop bleeding and push out excess ink; until it’s done with that, it doesn’t need additional moisture coming from lotion/ointment.
- Over moisturizing, a tattoo can directly lead to sped-up/increased bacteria growth and infection.
- Once the tattoo is closed and dried, you can wash it gently with soap and lukewarm water, and then apply a thin layer of lotion/ointment.
- From now on, you should clean and moisturize your tattoo up to twice a day; ideally once in the morning and once in the evening/at night.
- Before applying lotion, make sure to wash your hand thoroughly.
- Do NOT touch, peel, or scratch your tattoo!
Hopefully, we’ve provided all the needed information. Now that you know everything there is about new tattoos (and how/when to moisturize them), we hope your tattoo aftercare goes as smoothly as possible. For additional information, you can always talk to your tattoo artist, but also a medical professional, or a dermatologist. Good luck and happy tattooing!
Also Read: How To Clean Your Tattoo: Step By Step Guide