Tattoo Aftercare: Your Essential Five-Step Routine

The skincare routine that  will keep your ink looking fresh.

Congratulations, you now have a new tattoo. If you think about it, you just put that skin through a lot of stress by repeatedly puncturing it with a needle to get your desired ink. If you want the letters of your spouse's name or your artistic tattoo design to remain legible, you need to follow the proper protocol to protect it. After all, how disappointing would it be to go through the long and arduous process of getting a tattoo and then get an infection because you don't know how to take care of it?

It is always important to follow the skincare tips provided by your tattoo artist. In addition, we have some practical advice that might assist with the healing process. In order to avoid skin infections, we turned to Cape Town dermatologist, Dr Dilshaad Asmal. After removing the Saniderm (tattoo coating) applied by the artist, here are a few simple steps to follow:

1. Keep Your Tattooed Skin Clean 

Just as you should wash your face twice a day, you should also cleanse your fresh tattoo area regularly. Dr. Asmal suggests using a gentle cleanser and avoiding harsh soaps or scrubs, which might irritate the skin or tattoo(s). “Wash the tattooed skin gently with lukewarm water and pat dry with a clean towel," says Dr. Asmal. Follow this step daily until it's completely healed. 

2. Choose The Right Moisturiser 

Hydrating and moisturising the skin regularly prevents itching and peeling, reduces the risk of infections, and enhances the vibrancy of the tattoo. “It’s wise to use non-comedogenic formulas that won't clog pores or block skin during its healing process," says Dr.Asmal. Reach for lotions with ingredients like aloe, lavender, and vitamin E to help speed up their recovery process.  

3. Sun Protection Is Essential  

You know you need sun protection to shield your skin from damaging UV rays. But as Dr. Asmal points out, you might not know that UV radiation can make some inks fade. Make sure to apply broad-spectrum sunscreen to the tattooed area before going outside and don't forget to reapply every two hours to ensure maximum protection. As a result, the authenticity and vibrancy of the tattoo will remain intact. 

4. Visit A Dermatologist If You Have A Reaction 

When getting a tattoo, Dr. Asmal recommends having it in an area free of moles. Skin cancer, including melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, can be readily treated if detected early, says Dr. Asmal. We advise seeing a board-certified dermatologist if you have a skin reaction. The dermatologist can diagnose and treat any skin concerns. 

Wash the Tattooed Skin After Exercise 

If you train, avoid touching your new tattoo with dirty gym hands. Be mindful if you are a heavy sweater or taking on an exercise that might cause you to sweat excessively. When sweat remains on a fresh tattoo for too long, it can cause irritation. Always wash your hands and the new tattoo immediately after working out. 

The information on this page does not provide medical advice. It is solely for information on skin care.