A-Z Aftercare Guide: How to Take Care of Your New Tattoo

The tattoo recovery process is different for each person. It all depends on your skin type, your diet, your moisture content, the products you use, any previous skin damage you may have – and yes, even the weather. It also depends on the size and location of your tattoo.

Regardless of the size of your tattoo, here are some post-tattoo care rules recommended by the Artists:

  1. Consult your Artist for post-tattoo care tips.
  2. Moisturize your new tattoo with high-quality aftercare products.
  3. Keep your new tattoo out of direct sunlight for at least a week.
  4. Try not to touch your new tattoo (and definitely don’t scratch).
  5. Avoid submerging your new tattoo in water for at least two weeks.
  6. 2–3 weeks after tattooing, expose your skin to sunlight only while you are applying sunscreen to your tattoo. Be patient… the end result will be worth it.



Your tattoo aftercare is up to you and your artist. You may decide to use a premium tattoo ointment. On the other hand, you can choose an aftercare bandage, like Recovery Derm Shield or Saniderm. Tapes like Recovery Derm Shield have really exploded in popularity over the past few years.

There is no definitive answer as to which cream or dressing is better. Just rest assured to listen to professional advice from your Artist!



You will find a lot of premium aftercare ointments on the market. Recovery Tattoo Salve, which moisturizes and protects your tattoo from infection. If you are using ointment, first remove the original tape your Artist applied with clean hands. Then, wash your tattoo with a special care soap, such as Recovery Tattoo Soap. Finally, gently pat (do not wipe) your tattoo dry and then apply a small amount of ointment to the tattoo. Note: It is important that you apply tattoo ointment about 3–4 times a day during the healing process. Please use a small amount. Artists will often recommend a pea-sized dose. Over-moisturizing can clog your pores and even increase your risk of infection. Your artist will also advise you on how often you should wash your tattoo with a tattoo care soap.



Using a tattoo care tape after getting a tattoo can be just as effective as a tattoo ointment. In fact, if you think you’ll forget to apply the ointment often, a bandage might be the best option for you. Bandages like Recovery Derm Shield lock in all the natural fluids and moisture that escape while your tattoo heals. The tape also protects your tattoo from harsh elements or rubbing against clothing. If you’re using a second skin, start the healing process just like you would with ointment. First, remove the original bandage with clean hands. Second, wash your tattoo with a caring soap. Finally (after drying your tattoo) you are ready to use your second skin. Be gentle when applying the tape and follow the following care instructions on the product packaging. With second skin, you’ll keep your tattoo covered 24 hours a day for at least four to seven days. Based on your tattooist’s recommendation, you can remove the bandage every four to six hours to clean it with a caring soap.



So you just got a new tattoo. Your tattooist will first clean your tattoo with a gentle skin cleanser like Green Soap or Dr. Bronner’s. After the photo is taken, they will wrap your tattoo with professional tattoo film or use plastic wrap. Then the preparation of quality care products is up to you. Here are just a few we recommend:

  1. Recovery Derm Shield
  2. Saniderm
  3. Recovery Tattoo Salve
  4. Redemption Aftercare Lubricant
  5. Hustle Butter
  6. Recovery Aftercare Soap

Your tattooist probably has some of these in stock at their shop! Whichever aftercare product you choose, the tattoo healing process is broken down into the following five stages:



In the first stage, your tattoo is just starting to wrap… and there may be some blood. You can be excited to show off your new creation, but leave the first wrap intact for a few hours. Your artist will advise how long to keep the wrap before you can remove it. After you remove it, don’t be surprised to see excess blood, plasma, or ink. It’s a normal part of your skin’s recovery process. Just make sure to wash the tattoo site as gently as possible. We recommend avoiding antibacterial soaps like Dial or Dove. These soaps can cause skin dryness and irritation. So use soaps designed specifically for new tattoos, such as Recovery Aftercare soap… Then pat dry with a clean tissue or cloth. If you are using a cream, you can safely use it for the first time about 20-25 minutes after cleaning. If lotion isn’t your thing, wear a second skin instead. Derm Shield is lightweight and breathable, giving your tattoo plenty of air. Breathability is extremely important for the skin to recover in a healthy way. So let that new work of art breathe!



Taking care of your tattoo for the next two to three days is very important. You will notice redness and sensitivity. You may also notice your tattoo looking dull. Don’t worry about any of these symptoms – it’s all part of the recovery process. The freshness will return. It is important to keep your tattoo moist during this period. So keep using your favorite tattoo lotion three to four times per day. Remember: You don’t want to over-moisturize the tattoo site. You’ll also want to continue cleaning your tattoo with a dedicated aftercare soap or unscented soap as directed by the Artist. Remember to always dry the tattoo after cleaning. If you’re wearing a Recovery Derm Shield or another protective bandage, leave your tattoo alone. Your skin is very sensitive during this period. You know, it doesn’t want to be touched after being stabbed by a needle.

Attention Second Skin Users: You may notice an ink bag in stage 1. An ink bag is a bubble or bag filled with ink and plasma under your second skin. They can appear as little as 45 minutes after you have a bandage. This is 100% normal. It is the accumulation of fluid during recovery. Most Artists will recommend replacing the second skin if your ink bag is larger than a dime. So, you just need to remove, clean the tattoo site with specialized soap and apply a new piece of second skin.



Stage 3 (from day 4 to day 6) is usually when the dreaded itch starts to appear. You’ll want to scratch – but resist the temptation (we know it’s hard). Friction and scaling are common during this stage. If you scratch or pry it, it can discolor and ruin your work. You can pat your tattoo to soothe it if it’s too uncomfortable.

Also, continue to apply your specialized tattoo lotion in small amounts once or twice daily. A good tattoo lotion like Recovery Tattoo Salve helps to condition the skin and prevent infection. This will make the recovery process faster. Hopefully, it will give you some relief from the itch we all feel and dislike.

Second skins like Recovery Derm Shield should be removed after four to seven days. So if you are using them, this is usually the stage where you can start removing them. Then it’s time to wash with a specialized soap – you’ll notice a lot of lymph, fluid, and ink build up on your skin. Scaling still occurs even when you are wearing a bandage. So, after removing the bandage, wash it gently with a skin-care soap and do not pry the scabs.

Next, you may have to apply another bandage to complete the healing process. You can also switch to tattoo cream during the next two phases of recovery. Just remember to ask your tattooist to get the best advice for you and your tattoo.



Finally, the scabs start to fall off on their own!

During this period, from day seven to day 14, you may still experience some itching. Moisturize moderately with a tattoo lotion to prevent infection and relieve itching.

If you’re wearing a new second skin, less fluid will build up during this period because your tattoo isn’t new. Stage 4 is usually when you can remove the second patch (if four to seven days have passed since you started using it). As in stage 3, clean your tattoo with a skincare soap after removing the tape.



From the 15th to the 30th day after tattooing, your tattoo has mostly peeled off. But even though it looks like it’s 100% healed on the outside, there’s more going on than is visible to the naked eye.

The bottom layer of your skin still needs to be restored. So, continue to clean with a special care soap and apply your post-tattoo care lotion to keep it moist. If you are still wearing the post-tattoo care band according to the instructions of the artist, this is the stage when you can safely remove the second skin completely.

By the end of the third week after tattooing, the colors will start to brighten and freshen up again.



Tattoo care and recovery aren’t just five stages. There are also things you can do before getting a tattoo to make the process go more smoothly. We always recommend eating a nutritious meal, drinking enough water, and avoiding coffee. This helps prepare your body for needles, and a nice tattoo.

You’ll also want to consider the location of your new tattoo. For one thing, the right placement can make a tattoo more perfect. In addition, the healing process of tattoos on each part of the body will also be different.

Check out our body part aftercare guide below, which includes tips to keep in mind during tattoo recovery.


Note — head tattoos can be itchy and sensitive

Post-tattoo: Gently wash off the tattoo on your head with a cleaning product such as Recovery After Care soap and apply some tattoo lotion to help scabs off. Gentleness is essential, because the hair follicles make your new tattoo more sensitive.

Extra tip: You may notice dandruff-like flakes coming off your head – this is normal. Just be diligent (and gentle) with your post-tattooed care.

Neck and throat:

If you recently got a tattoo on your neck or throat – congratulations, you are a champion! Getting a tattoo in this location is notoriously painful because the skin on your neck is so thin.

Post-tattooed: Regularly apply lotion or wear a second skin bandage. It’s a great tool to protect your neck and throat from rubbing against the collar.

Extra tip: If your hair is long, tie it up so it doesn’t irritate the tattoo. We also recommend Recovery Derm Shield in black if you’re tattooing during the sunnier months. Black tape keeps your neck tattoo safe from the sun’s rays.

Abdomen and chest:

Tattoos in this area are a unique location and the results can be very “burning”. You just need a little patience.

Post-tattooed: This is another body part that really works with a second skin. High-quality second skins like Recovery Derm Shield or Saniderm prevent friction between the tattoo and the clothes. If you prefer to use a lotion, be gentle and consistent when applying it. Also, make sure to clean regularly with soap and dry afterwards!

Extra tip: Avoid bending or sitting a lot. There are many muscles and skin folds in the abdomen that affect your tattoo when you move too much.


After a lip tattoo, it’s time to pay attention to what you should eat

Post-Tattoo: If you’re getting an inner-mouth tattoo, avoid using lotions for an inner-mouth tattoo. Instead, use an alcohol-free antibacterial mouthwash. Rinse your mouth after every meal to prevent infection. If your lip tattoo is on the outside of your mouth, it’s probably safe to use a tattoo balm.

Extra tip: You’ll want to avoid spicy or acidic foods that can inflame your new lip tattoo. Eat lighter foods – and the results after healing will be well worth it.

Hands and fingers:

Hand tattoos and finger tattoos are everywhere – just look at any pop star! And they can look very flattering. But needless to say… your hands touch everything.

Post-tattoo: Make sure to wash your tattooed fingers with something like Recovery Aftercare soap three to four times a day. This helps prevent infection. You’ll also want to use Recovery Tattoo Salve, Hustle Butter, or another premium tattoo lotion to moisturize your hands or tattoo.

Bonus tip: Keep in mind that hand and finger tattoos fade over time. Use sunscreen in direct sunlight to slow down this process.


It may not come as a surprise to you that buttock tattoo recovery is quite difficult. This is largely due to – well, you are constantly sitting on your butt.

Post-tattooed: Apply your favorite tattoo lotion and wash regularly with specialized soap. A piece of second skin is a great option here to prevent friction between your butt and pants.

Extra tip: Sitting causes rubbing or scratching, which irritates your tattoo. Try lying on your stomach as much as possible and wear loose pants. This can speed up the recovery process – but be patient! Butt tattoos can take some time to fully heal.


Legs are a great place to show off a new tattoo. However, it is also exposed to many environmental factors. Leg and ankle tattoos are easy to show off and also easy to hide. Recovery for these tattoos can be easy if you do it right.

Post-tattooed: Keep your tattooed leg covered with high-quality clothing or a second skin like the Recovery Derm Shield. This is one of the best ways to protect your new artwork from dirt, water, or rain during healing. If you like tattoo lotion, wear loose, long pants. However, the second skin can be difficult to use on the instep or the ankle. Take advice from your tattooist depending on the size of the image.

Extra tip: Avoid going barefoot and stay away from polluted environments as much as possible and avoid direct sunlight. Ideal environment for foot and ankle tattoo recovery? Put your feet on the chair, away from the sun. But if necessary, wear comfortable, loose-fitting shoes or flip-flops if possible.

Knees and hamstrings:

It is sharp. It’s bold. And it’s also extremely sensitive. Knees are not only painful when tattooed, but also need to be taken care of during the recovery process.

Post-tattooed: Regularly clean your knee with specialized soap according to artist’s recommendations. And don’t forget to apply tattoo cream regularly! The skin on your knees can be quite dry, so you’ll want to keep it moisturized.

Extra tip: Your knee skin is sensitive and thin – and it’s constantly in motion. Try not to bend your knees often for two to three weeks after getting a tattoo. Lie on your back, Netflix and chill.


Strong, muscular forearms are one of the most popular tattoo locations. That’s because it’s a lot less painful than other arm tattoos, AND it’s a very visible spot. Your elbow is also a unique, eye-catching spot for your tattoo.

Post-tattoo: No matter how big or small, use a caring soap and warm water to clean the tattoo on your arm for the first three weeks. You’ll also want to use your favorite tattoo lotion at least three to four times a day around this time.

Extra tip: The time it takes for your arm tattoo to heal largely depends on the size. A small flash will heal much faster than a tattoo that takes up your entire forearm.

Back and spine:

Back and spine tattoos can be awesome, as there’s plenty of space for your artist to create a beautiful design. But this can be quite painful. The area behind your back is very sensitive to pain, especially in the lower back.

Post-tattoo: second skins like Recovery Derm Shield or Saniderm are a smart choice in this position. Usually, tattoos on the back and spine are large and second skin will help you protect most of this skin area.

Bonus tip: To stay as comfortable as possible, try sleeping on your side or stomach. You may sleep on your back during your recovery, but it may not be a peaceful night for you. We also recommend covering your back to keep out the sun, especially if you get a back tattoo in the summer. That means not going topless, no matter how much you want to show off your new work.


Boneless doesn’t mean painless… but fortunately, ear tattoos heal very quickly.

Post-tattoo: Be diligent about applying tattoo ointment as needed to keep your new tattoo moist and infection-free.

Bonus tip: Ear tattoos can be difficult to slap to ease the itch. Avoid scratching as much as possible.


The good news: this position is breathable, you can also easily clean your facial tattoo with a post-tattoo care soap. Bad news: avoid the sun for at least 24 hours after getting a tattoo.

Post-tattooed: Use tattoo ointment or tattoo tape for the first few days and remember to use sunscreen… or wear a wide hat.

Bonus tip: Don’t apply sunscreen until your tattoo is completely healed, so try to stay indoors as much as possible. Remember to wear a hat when leaving the house


Armpit tattoos are quite painful, but the results after healing are also very good.

Aftercare: To prevent infection after armpit tattooing, try to keep the area as dry as possible. Wash with specialized care soap, pat dry with a towel and use lotion to provide nourishment and prevent infection.

Extra tip: Remember that there are a lot of folds in your armpits, which lead to irritation during the healing process. Your armpits also tend to sweat, especially during the hot months. A little humidity is fine but stay in a cool, well-ventilated space to avoid excessive sweating.

Sensitive area:

These parts of your body are usually well-covered, which means they’re often tight and moist. That means you have to be extremely careful during post-tattoo care.

Post-tattoo: Apply a high-grade tattoo lotion every few hours to keep the site from becoming infected. In addition, clean regularly with specialized soaps based on recommendations from the tattooist. You have the option of using a second skin, but this product can be difficult to use on this skin, depending on the area where the tattoo was made.

Extra tip: Avoid sexual activity until your tattoo has completely healed.