Caring for your tattoo starts at your first session, and is critical for its longevity and health.  Improper cleaning and aftercare can lead to complications like scabbing, ink pulling from the skin, faded color, infection, or worse.  While every artist has their own aftercare instructions and should explain them at the time of the session, it's important to follow each one's preferred method while applying some common sense.  Below are my own recommendations for tattoo aftercare based on a collaboration of personal experiences and other tattooing professionals:


  • Keep it clean and lightly moisturized throughout healing period (usually 2-3 weeks)

  • Cover if necessary to prevent unwanted contact, but generally try to let tattoo breathe

  • Avoid direct sunlight for at least 2 weeks while the tattoo heals

  • Don't submerge area under water or make direct contact with any unclean surfaces for at least 2 weeks

Dressing the tattoo:

  • A clear adhesive bandage will typically be applied before you leave the studio.  This is recommended to be kept on for 24-48 hours, and removed after that time.

  • If you need to cover your tattoo over the following few days, a sterile non-adhesive bandage can be a temporary alternative through the first week of healing.

Cleaning the tattoo:

  • After the adhesive bandage comes off, continue to gently clean your tattoo with antibacterial liquid soap.  Avoid exfoliating, heavily perfumed or dyed soaps - these can sometimes cause burning, scratches and discomfort around the tattoo.

  • Gently pat dry with paper towels; avoid bath towels, wash cloths, luffas or other porous material that hold bacteria.  When your tattoo is dry, with clean hands apply a very thin layer of your aftercare ointment.  Dab off extra ointment to remove any build-up of the product on your tattoo.

  • Repeat these steps a couple times each day, drying and applying ointment as needed.  If you normally bathe with bar soap, use a fresh bar that isn't shared to avoid passing bacteria to and from the tattoo.

  • This should continue throughout the entire healing process of your tattoo (generally 2 or 3 weeks, but can vary between each person).

Other things to keep in mind:

  • DO NOT share ointments - doing so transfers bacteria between the wounds, leading to infection.

  • Wear loose clothing while your tattoo heals to avoid sticking, chafing, and irritation.

  • Your tattoo should start to peel after 3 or 4 days, accompanied by itching from healing tissue.  LEAVE IT ALONE and do not pick off peeling skin or scabs that form.  Doing so will cause your tattoo to bleed and pull out ink.

  • Try to avoid direct contact of the tattoo with pet dander, chemicals (chlorine, tanning lotion, hair products, etc.), younger children/toddlers/infants, razors, brushes, and so on.

  • Once fully healed, you're encouraged to keep your tattoo looking vibrant by preserving it by covering it with clothes or using sun screen.  DO NOT use this until the tattoo is completely healed (generally a few weeks later).

Important to remember:

  • Keeping your self, home, and work environments clean will help with great healing!

  • Redness, swelling and minor discomfort are normal for fresh tattoos and can sometimes last several days.  If you feel like your tattoo's acting out of the ordinary, contact me with reference pictures or stop by in person (appointment requested) so I can take a look.

  • If you are concerned you may have an infection or allergic reaction to the tattoo, please don't hesitate to contact your primary care physician.  Let us know of any diagnosed infection, allergic or adverse reaction resulting directly from the tattoo.