Just Got Inked? All About Tattoo Aftercare

Published: 2016-02-05 by Miguel Matos in Health |    (3 comments)

A tattoo can be a work of art, a reminder of someone or of an experience, it can be a form of adorning our body and even a sign of the culture we are living in. It can also be a cliché, of course. I am a tattoo enthusiast and I have five (for now). But besides chosing carefully your tattoo artist, making sure you trust him or her, and after you have decided what you are going to get tattooed, there's something that is rarely brought to discussion regarding the immediate moments after the ink gets under your skin: the aftercare of a tattoo. Something that you have to do for the rest of your life if you want the ink to stay and remain as perfect as possible.


The Moment After

When you come back home, with your arm, your leg or whatever body part you got tattooed, still wrapped in plastic film, you have to uncover your wounded and expose it. First of all, wash it. But with what? You can use a simple glycerin soap and you will be fine. But you can also use something more specific for the occasion. There is a number of tattoo aftercare products in the market. One of them is H2Ocean's Blue Green Foam Soap.

This product was designed to effectively wash your new tattoo without causing excessive damage or drying. It is very important to keep your skin moisturized so it doesn't create scabs. Enriched with aloe vera, this soap will help to moisturize while disinfecting your tattoo. Be sure you rub it gently and with slow moves. Treat your tattoo with love. It is very important to use something that will not be harsh or you can harm your skin with visible marks.


Tattoo Goo is another tattoo aftercare brand. They have developed the Tattoo Goo Deep Cleansing Antibacterial Aftercare Soap for Tattoos & Piercings which is formulated to “provide a broad spectrum germicidal kill while being gentle to the skin. The soap's specially formulated cleansing agent PCMX-L cleans at a deeper level to prevent bacterial growth and infection by removing more dirt and dead skin cells.”

Care and Heal

After your new tattoo is clean you have to apply something that heals the skin. Remember, a tattoo is like a light wound. Healing is the key to success and to a good looking tattoo. You can chose an oitment like Bepanthen, which my tattoo artist's favourite.


“Bepanthen ointment contains Pro Vitamin B5 which gently aids natural recovery of sensitive skin while keeping it soft, smooth and moisturised. Bepanthen also works by helping to seal in the skin's natural moisture, providing optimal conditions to allow gentle skin recovery.” Bepanthen also protects from agressions. “Clinically proven, Bepanthen works by forming a long lasting, transparent layer, protecting even the most delicate skin from irritants and rubbing. The water-in-oil formulation keeps the skin healthy and hydrated, which is essential to maintain its natural protective barrier.” If you have a low immune system, you can use Bepanthen Plus, which includes an antibacterial ingredient but be careful not to use too much for it may ruin the colors. This is mostly used for real wounds but if you are worried it might infect, try it. “The medicinal substance - dexpanthenol - transforms into the pantothenic acid of the group of B vitamins. That is essential for the skin formation and regeneration and increases scar elasticity and strength. Chlorhexidine is a disinfectant which makes microbe propagation impossible on the wound surface. This way it prevents inception and spreading of infection in the wound. Bepanthen Plus also prevents wound dehumidification, and it also reduces their soreness thanks to the cooling effect. Bepanthen Plus can be easily spread and washed, it neither greases nor sticks.” - according to Docsimon.com. Also in the antibacterial ointments subject, there is another one which used to be reccomended by tattoo artists called Bacitracin which in fact is an antibiotic. It works by stopping or preventing bacterial infections by either killing susceptible bacteria or inhibiting their growth, but it can also push the ink out of the skin so you should avoid using it. Actually, Manuel Ribau, tattoo artist from Ink & Wheels studio in Lisbon warned me not to use it for it can ruin a tattoo. I have used on my tattoos Avene's Cicalfate which is a powerful healing cream and had superb results, but tattoo artists are not familiar with it so they might not reccomend you this one. Finally, Manuel Ribau also reccomends the vegan brand Tattoomed, which has a whole range of products for this purpose, like cleansing gel, after care and daily care. These are more like medication drugs rather than simple creams but they are goof and very affordable options. However, there are specific products, that were especially formulated for the use on tattoos.

H2Ocean’s Aquatat is a simpler ointment for regular skin and one that you can use if you don't see a reason for antibacterials or antibiotics. Nu Tattoo's After Balm is anti-fungal and antibacterial. It soothes the skin, is Body Jewelry Friendly, eases itching, acts as a natural sun protector, helps prevent scabbing, and can reduce healing time for tattoos and body piercing.


Tattoo Goo in ointment form is another for healing your tattoo. Based with eight different natural ingredients, it is 97.5% natural. “The rich premium Olive Oil, Cocoa Butter and Wheat Germ Oil formula, along with vitamin–e and several herbs provide an occlusive humectant barrier which aids in healing. It won’t clog pores and enhances color of new and old tattoos a like.” What you have to do is to cover the new tattoo with one of these ointments, in a thin layer (don't over apply it) and wrap it with plastic film, like the one you use in the kitchen. Be sure to cover it all and change it (washing and reapplying the ointment) three to five times a day on the first three days.

On the first and maybe second day you may feel that the area is hot and sore. You may experience soft pain and even feel feverish. This is normal and should go away the next day. If it doesn't, that is a sign that something is wrong. Just take an antipiretic or analgesic pill and get some rest. Don't drink any alcohol and have lots of water.

Moisture to Lock the Ink

So the three days of washing, ointment and wrapping are over and your tattoo starts to heal. There will be a time when it will shed something like skin flakes, it will also be itchy but everything has a price and all of this will go away. After the third day you finally can get rid of the plastic film but you have to remember to keep the area well moisturized. Continue to use these ointments regularly and keep reapplying if the area is dry. After a week or so, if the tattoo looks like it is healing well, you can start using a regular skin moisturizer like Nivea or Dove. However, you can also chose to continue using specific care products.

H2Ocean's Inkrenu Foam is a skin barrier foam, designed to moisturize a new tattoo and also lock in the ink. “The foam infuses your skin with 82 trace elements and minerals. It also created a protective barrier for your tattoo, acting like an invisible bandage.” Ocean Care cream is another product of the same nature, enriched with USP grade ingredients, essential vitamins and minerals for people with normal to dry skin.

Tattoo Goo Lotion is also an option. “This is a formula with Panthenol, the world’s most recommended tattoo aftercare ingredient, that uses the same quality pumice grade olive oil and antioxidant vitamin E as the Tattoo Goo Original Salve, to help speed the skin healing process.” I also experimented with After Inked Tattoo Moisturizer & Aftercare Lotion and I liked it. After you realize that your tattoo is stable and healed, you can start to use whatever skin moistutizers you want, as long as they are more or less neutral.

Protect From Harm

Now, there's another dramatically important thing you will have to do forever, which is to protect your tattoo from sun exposure. Too much sun and your tattoo will gradually become dull and lose color. SPF 50 is the ideal option and you have a whole array of creams, lotions and sticks to chose from.

Coppertone has a special product called Tattoo Guard, which is a sunscreen (SPF 50) in the form of lotion, spray or stick intended to be used over tattoos.


Avene has a very effective sunscreen (also SPF 50) for sensitive areas in the form of a stick that you can always carry with you and reapply. This is useful especially for tattoos in areas that are constantly exposed like hands, arms, neck, etc. As a cheaper alternative, Kiko also has a stick like this, only it is not totally transparent, which makes the tattoos look pale. Tattoo Goo has the Color Guard Stick - SPF 30, which has “special UV/UVA inhibitors, and help protect tattoos from fading. Other ingredients help to provide moisture the tattoo thus enhancing color.” Another famous sunscreen brand, Australian Gold, also has a protective stick for tattoos SPF 60 Generally, use any sunscreen with SPF 50 and your tattoos will be fine. By the way, this goes for all your skin extension, all year round.

Besides all these steps in tattoo aftercare, there are also products that were designed to improve the look of your tattoos. They are the tattoo enhancers. Tattoo Goo Renew and Fresh Ink Tattoo Enhancing Moisturizer are a couple of examples. But really, any good moisturizer and powerful sunscreen is good in order to keep your skin healthy, making it a good quality canvas.



*this article was supervised by several tattoo artists from different backgrounds to assure the accuracy of the information.

Tattoo Goo Tattoo Goo SalveTattoo Goo Tattoo Goo Salve
Tattoo Goo LotionTattoo Goo Lotion
Tattoo Goo RenewTattoo Goo Renew
H2Ocean Blue Green Foam Soap Tattoo WashH2Ocean Blue Green Foam Soap Tattoo Wash
Tattoo Goo Deep Cleansing SoapTattoo Goo Deep Cleansing Soap
H2Ocean AquatatH2Ocean Aquatat
H2Ocean Inkrenu Moisturizing FoamH2Ocean Inkrenu Moisturizing Foam
After Inked Tattoo Moisturizer & Aftercare LotionAfter Inked Tattoo Moisturizer & Aftercare Lotion
Coppertone Tattoo GuardCoppertone Tattoo Guard
Avène Stick Large SPF 50Avène Stick Large SPF 50
Tattoo Goo Color GuardTattoo Goo Color Guard

Miguel Matos

Editor, Writer, Translator
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Miguel is a Portuguese journalist obsessed with art and perfume. Miguel likes to see himself as a fragrance curator, investigating the possibilitie...(more)

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I have several tattoos. I've gotten many different aftercare instructions. Although washing with a basic antibacterial soap like dial several times a day is often recommended. Then I've been told all I need is a thin layer of an unscented gentle lotion like Eucarin to using the dialer rash ointment A&D ointment. I've also gotten the impression that some tattoo artists think these tattoo specific products are an unnecessary waste of money.

9 months ago / 

I also did not know about tatoo care product line that is so big.

1 year ago / 

Wow! I had no idea there were so many tattoo-care products! I have 4 tattoos and didn't even think to utilize anything special for them while in the sun. Thanks for all of this great info : )

1 year ago / 
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