Woman with Arm Tattoo

How to Take Care of a Tattoo


Expert AdviceHard to take care of a new tattoo? Read our tattoo aftercare guide and learn how to keep tattoos hydrated and healthy!

  1. How to take care of a tattoo
    More than 1 in 5 Americans have tattoos¹. When you consider that getting one involves needles repeatedly puncturing the skin, it’s clear tattoos require a lot of skin care planning before and after the procedure. Since skin will be damaged and extremely sensitive, extra hydration and care are necessary for maintaining the healthy appearance of skin and ensuring a beautiful final tattoo.

  2. Before you tattoo
    Dry skin can impact the appearance of your tattoos during and after the process. Moisture is key to protecting and caring for skin, so the moment you decide to get a tattoo, keep the area hydrated with Vaseline® Jelly to lock in moisture and help protect the skin.

    Note: While safety standards have been self-implemented throughout the industry, nationwide regulations have not—some states¹ still don’t require licensed tattoo artists to provide instructions on aftercare. So research the proper procedures for a safe tattoo, and make sure your tattoo artist is practicing safe procedures to prevent infections. Consult your dermatologist before and after your tattoo for advice on how to best care for your skin. 

  3. Tattoo aftercare
    Tattoos use a mechanized needle to puncture the skin and inject pigment just below the epidermis. Like any surgical procedure, this has significant impact on the appearance of your skin and the aftercare should be carefully considered. An after-tattoo skin care routine can be key to healthy looking skin after the procedure.

    In lieu of applying a tattoo lotion after your tattoo is completed, try a thin layer of Vaseline® Jelly². The triple-purified white petrolatum can protect skin by creating a sealing barrier, locking in moisture which can help your skin’s natural recovery process. It’s also non-comedogenic, so it won’t aggravate oily or combination skin. Learn more about the causes and treatment of oily or combination skin.

    The next day, remove the bandage and gently wash the tattoo area with mild liquid soap and warm water. Do not scrub with a washcloth, sponge or loofah. Pat dry with a clean, soft cloth and moisturize with another thin layer of Vaseline® Jelly. Leave off the bandage so the skin can air dry. Wash and re-moisturize 3-5 times a day. For the next month, keep the tattoo out of the sun and resist the desire to scratch and pick at the skin. It may take up to four weeks to heal completely, depending on size and design. Keep following your after tattoo care instructions to keep skin clean, dry and hydrated.

    Once your tattoo has fully healed, make sure to always keep the area hydrated with Vaseline® Jelly and a high SPF sunscreen. Tattoos can fade in the sun even long after they heal. For ongoing healthy looking skin, consider daily application of Vaseline® Intensive Care™ Lotions. The proper care of a tattoo starts the moment you decide to get one. Know the safety procedures, find a safe practitioner, consult a dermatologist as needed and hydrate it properly long after it’s completed. Once you learn how to care for a tattoo, you can maintain the beautiful body art you always wanted.

    Expert Advice
    The advice in this article does not constitute medical advice, it is solely available for information purposes.
1. Liszewski, MD Walter. “The Need for Evidence-Based Best Practices for Tattoo Aftercare.” JAMA Dermatology, American Medical Association, 1 Feb. 2016, jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/article-abstract/2467991.
2. Skerrett, Patrick J. “Tattoos and Infection: Think before You Ink.” Harvard Health Blog, 12 Oct. 2012, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/tattoos-and-infection-think-before-you-ink-201210125405.   

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