You’ve finally taken the plunge and gotten your first tattoo, and you’re very happy with it. However, as any veteran to inking will tell you, it doesn’t stop there. You have to care for your skin as it heals, and refrain from doing some things you may be used to for now. If you are new to the whole process, here are some tips for care and maintenance.

1. Keep the area clean

When your artist finishes with a piece, they will cover it up with a bandage. You must leave the cover on for the first two to 24 hours, or for however long you are instructed to do so by the artist. After this period, you can remove it gently and wash the area with lukewarm water and antibacterial soap.

Pat your skin dry, and do not rub it while it is healing. If you got inked on a normally exposed area, like your limbs or your hands and feet, you should not cover it with a fresh bandage. If it is somewhere protected by clothing, cover it with gauze and medical tape. Even the softest clothes can cause abrasions on newly-inked skin.

2. Remember to protect and moisturize it

Every day, you should apply an unscented moisturizer or an ointment to help keep your skin from drying up. Your artist should be able to recommend brands that you can purchase locally. Moisturize the area after every time you wash it. You must also remember to drink more water so that you can keep your skin hydrated.

Tattoos can fade in the sun, so avoid direct exposure as much as possible. Throw on a cover or stay in the shade, especially while you are healing from the procedure. When your skin is completely healed, you should cover it in a high-SPF sunscreen. More vibrant designs are especially prone to fading, so have a plan for being outdoors if you are getting a colored design.

3. Let it heal and watch for allergic reactions

Depending on the size and complexity of your design, the healing time can be anywhere from a week to several months. You should follow the aftercare instructions of your artist, and consult with them first about any new products you want to use for your treatment.

Tattoos undergo several distinct phases of healing. In the first few days, the inked area will look red, and the design might be cloudy. This is normal; your skin is just forming scabs, and the design will settle as the skin heals. Before it does, though, it will start to flake or scab and will become very itchy. Avoid scratching it; slap the area lightly if the sensation is too much.

If your tattoo stays red, is hot to the touch, and bleeds for more than a day after the procedure you should seek medical advice. Though infections from this process are uncommon, you should still have it checked if the symptoms are becoming too bothersome for you.

4. Avoid swimming for the first few weeks

If you like going for a swim, you might have to wait a while after getting inked. Whether fresh or salty, all bodies of water have bacteria that can infect a new design. Chlorinated pools or bathtubs are likewise off-limits. Treated water, while low in bacteria, will contain chemicals that can irritate the skin and still cause infections. You should only have quick showers, at least for the first couple of weeks after getting a tattoo.


Getting inked is a nice way of expressing yourself, but you cannot just pop into an artist’s shop, get a tattoo, and forget about it right away. The healing your body needs afterward requires you to commit to several weeks or even months of skincare. You will be set for it, though, if you get one from a knowledgeable artist.

We are one of the best tattoo shops in Buffalo, NY. Our award-winning artists can do full-color, black and grayscale, photorealistic designs, and more. Contact us today for more information.

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