ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Tattoo Care Steps and Healing Stages for Your First Tattoo

Updated on August 17, 2016

Congratulations on receiving your first tattoo! May it be one that you will never feel compelled to cover up or laser off. Since this is a new experience for you, it might be worth your while to read through some basic aftercare steps to ensure that your new tattoo heals properly and lasts for a very long time.

When you leave the tattoo studio

Your tattoo artist will have taped a protective piece of gauze over your new tattoo. This is mostly to protect your clothes, as your skin may still be bleeding, and will ooze ink for a short period of time after tattooing. It is recommended to leave this gauze on for around two hours, but fast healers may not need to wait that long.

Softsoap Unscented Antibacterial Soap
Softsoap Unscented Antibacterial Soap

Wash your tattoo with antibacterial soap

Wash your tattoo after you remove gauze, and then twice a day during the healing process. It is important that you use clear, unscented antibacterial soap (Softsoap with the fish image in the background, or the generic equivalent). If you prefer to use more natural products on your skin, you could try a handmade soap, too; just make sure the ingredients list doesn't include anything that draws ink. Your tattoo should be the last thing you wash before getting out of the shower - using warm water, use your fingers to move the soap around. Do not scrub the area. Rinse well, then pat dry with a clean towel.

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion
Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion

Aveeno for tattoo aftercare: keep your new tattoo moisturized

During the healing process, you may notice that your tattoo oozes a little bit after washing. This is normal, and the moisture will air dry in a few minutes. Wait for the tattoo to be dry to the touch, and then apply a thin layer of an unscented moisturizer like Aveeno moisturizing body lotion. You want a thin layer so that air can still get to your skin, so avoid thick lotions and Vaseline-like products. If you'd rather use a petroleum-free moisturizer, you could try making this recipe for tattoo balm. New tattoo care requires that you reapply your moisturizer throughout the day, as well, not just after washing. It is a good idea to wear clothing that allows easy access to your tattoo, for easy application.


What to expect during the tattoo healing process

Everyone's healing process is different, and healing experiences will vary, but the most common stages in this process are:

  • Pain and burning - for the first few days, the skin of your tattoo will be tight and sore. It may be painful during the first few cleanings, when clothing rubs against it, and when moving that body part so that the skin is stretched.
  • Oozing - your tattoo may ooze moisture. This usually happens the night following the day you got inked, and people often wake up to a colorful imprint of their new tattoo dyed onto the sheets. It's a good idea to wear an old, soft t-shirt to bed that first night. Tattoos also ooze after washing for the first few days. This should be a clear liquid; if your tattoo looks red and inflamed, bleeds or oozes puss, visit your tattoo artist or a doctor for advice.
  • Skin flaking - after a couple of days, you will begin to find colorful flecks of your flesh stuck to the inside of your shirt, or on the floor of the shower. This is normal, but resist the urge to peel! A good washing, following the instructions above, will remove most of these flakes. Just leave the rest alone.
  • After those worst stages of tattoo healing are past, it is going to start itching like crazy. Don't worry, this is the final stage. Your skin will look like a sunburn that is nearly healed - almost back to normal, but outlined with a ridge of delicate white, flaky flesh. Try not to scratch during this itchy stage, and keep applying your lotion regularly.

If you followed your aftercare instructions perfectly, and your tattoo still heals poorly, consider finding a new tattoo artist.

How to take care of a tattoo in the long-term

If you notice that an area of your tattoo has uneven color, most artists offer free touch ups for 3 to 6 months after you received it, so see if you can get back in to have it fixed.

After your tattoo is fully healed, there are still things you need to do to keep it looking fresh for many years to come. The most important part of tattoo care is to always wear sunscreen. Sun will fade tattoos over time, and you spent too much money on them just to watch them fade. It is also still important to regularly moisturize your tattoos, as this will keep the colors bright.

Copyright ©2013 FindWholeness


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I stopped using any balms, lotions and pore clogging chemical products, and now only use a natural glycerine soap with hemp oil and other oils from the Amazonia Rain Forest. It's just a simple soap, it's naturally antiseptic, and best of all leaves my tattoo moisturized and vibrant. In the past I had an infected tattoo because of a petroleum jelly...never again! sticking to my tattoo soap by Cinema Soaps.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Got my first tatt and it seems as though this healing process has come fast. I got my tattoo 6 days ago and i'm already done with the peeling and today was the first day of this itchiness that's been described. Thanks for the information on the steps

    • findwholeness profile imageAUTHOR

      Kat McAdams 

      5 years ago from Midwest

      Possibly. Mine get raised and itchy sometimes. I think it has to do with scar tissue.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Okay, question!

      Got my first tattoo done on May 14th (my birthday) it's now July 30th. Is it normal for the tattoo to be kind of sore while I'm on that girly time of the month? Or when the weather changes?

    • Organised Kaos profile image


      6 years ago from Hobart, Tasmania ~ Australia.(The little bit broken off the bottom of AUS)

      Just a note, the reason your tattoo is wrapped when leaving the tattoo studio is not to protect your clothing, its to protect the new tattoo or wound from infections and dirt entering it.

      Thanks for putting the information out there!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This is good no-nonsense advice.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Very well explained. Thanks

    • findwholeness profile imageAUTHOR

      Kat McAdams 

      6 years ago from Midwest

      You're welcome!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Awesome article. Right to the point. I just got my tattoo yesterday so I was kind of clueless to the healing process. Thanks!

    • findwholeness profile imageAUTHOR

      Kat McAdams 

      6 years ago from Midwest

      Me too ;)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I love tattoos.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)