How Does A Healing Tattoo Look?
Because we’re a skincare company for the tattooed, we often get questions about the tattoo healing process. A tattoo is essentially an open wound, and but it’s a little different in the sense that this particular wound was most likely expensive, plus there’s ink in the wound, and we want that ink to stay put, heal beautifully and ensure both our investment and our skin is protected.
Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to healing. And as you’re reading please note that if you have a question or concern about your healing tattoo, listen to your artist, or consult with a medical professional to ensure you’re getting the best advice for your healing ink.
How long does it take a tattoo to heal? It depends on the person and the location of the tattoo. Sometimes a tattoo can look healed on the surface but the layers under the skin are still being repaired. Two months is on the longer spectrum of healing time by most standards, but it’s a good rule of thumb to make extra sure your skin has fully healed — we say this because products with SPF can irritate healing skin, so the two-month mark is a good rule of thumb to be extra-sure your skin has fully recovered.
My tattoo is peeling and itching. Is that normal? Yes! It’s perfectly normal for a tattoo to peel like a sunburn — and itch like a sunburn. Make sure you resist the temptation to scratch or peel off the skin as that can pull out your ink.
Rather, let the skin flake off on its own. To help with this maddeningly itchy, peeling phase, our Tattoo Goo Lotion has an ingredient called Panthenol that helps relieve the itch. You can learn more about our lotion here. The skin that is peeling is colored like the tattoo—is my tattoo coming off? No, this is a natural part of a healing tattoo.
The top layer of dead skin has been colored or dyed during the tattooing process. That outer layer will fall off revealing the fresh skin underneath. My tattoo looks like it’s fading. Is that normal? A tattoo is VERY bright when it is first completed but during the healing process, it starts to look discolored and dull.
Don’t worry, when the tattoo is finished healing, the color will come back. My tattoo is scabbing. Is that normal? Yes! Scabbing is typically normal and happens during the healing process of a tattoo. Just like any open wound, your body is creating its natural defense to guard it against infection while the skin underneath repairs itself.
- If the skin does scab, it’s very important that you don’t pick or pull at the scabs since that can pull out your ink and in some extreme cases, lead to scarring;
- What causes scabbing with a tattoo? Like with any open wound, your body responds by producing plasma A lack of moisture can also cause scabbing;
The philosophy behind all Tattoo Goo products revolves around the importance of replacing the moisture that’s lost in the skin during the tattooing process. By doing this, it can help prevent scabbing as well as speed up healing time. My tattoo seems to be losing ink.
It is runny, wet and it looks like the ink is coming out. What should I do? It sounds like the tattoo is leaching. When too much aftercare is applied, the body will naturally try to push whatever is on top off so it can breathe.
Wash the tattoo off and pat it dry. Do not put anything on it for one day. After that, start using Tattoo Goo® Lotion around three times a day—be sure not to over apply. Continue using the lotion until it heals completely. It may scab a bit, but do not pick the scabs—let them fall off naturally.
- Can I wash my tattoo? Yes, you should wash your tattoo 2-3 times a day with a product such as Tattoo Goo® Deep Cleansing Soap;
- Do not use a washcloth, use only your hands, gently wash off the tattoo and pat it dry;
Let it air dry for 10-15 minutes before applying aftercare. It is important that it is completely dry before applying aftercare. Do not soak the tattoo in water, swim, etc. until the tattoo is completely healed. Should I re-bandage my tattoo? No, once you’ve taken off the original bandage, you should not re-bandage your tattoo.
The tattooed skin needs to breathe in order to heal faster and more effectively. Can I use sunscreen on my tattoo while it is healing? Sunscreen should not be used on a healing tattoo as it has many chemicals that can cause adverse reactions.
You should keep the tattoo out of the sun until it is completely healed. Most artists recommend two weeks or more. After it is healed, you should always use sunscreen, such as Tattoo Goo Renew® SPF 50+ if your tattoo is going to be exposed. Tattoo Goo® Salve and Lotion contain no sunscreen.
- 1 When should I stop washing my tattoo?
- 2 When can I shower after a tattoo?
- 3 How do I keep my tattoo black?
How do you tell if a tattoo is healing properly?
– It’s important to know the signs that your tattoo isn’t healing properly or has become infected. Symptoms of improper healing include:
- Fever or chills. A fever may indicate that your tattoo has become infected, and you should see a doctor right away.
- Prolonged redness. All tattoos will be somewhat red for a few days after the procedure, but if the redness doesn’t subside , it’s a sign that your tattoo isn’t healing well.
- Oozing fluid. If fluid or pus is still coming out from your tattoo after 2 or 3 days, it may be infected. See a doctor.
- Swollen, puffy skin. It’s normal for the tattoo to be raised for a few days, but the surrounding skin shouldn’t be puffy. This may indicate that you’re allergic to the ink.
- Severe itching or hives. Itchy tattoos can also be a sign that your body is allergic to the ink. The allergic reaction to a tattoo can happen right after, or as much as several years after getting the tattoo.
- Scarring. Your tattoo will scab over because it’s a wound, but a properly healed tattoo shouldn’t scar. Signs of scarring include raised, puffy skin, redness that doesn’t fade, distorted colors within the tattoo, or pitted skin.
What is a normal tattoo healing?
Days 2 to 3 – Still A Fresh Wound – At this point, you can take the bandage or the saran wrap off. Because the tattooed are is still a fresh wound, you may notice redness, warm or burning sensation, and of course, oozing and swelling. All of this is a completely normal reaction of your body.
Do tattoos look different after healing?
Did You Know? – Swelling that appears around a tattoo is due to increased blood flow to the area. More blood helps to boost healing capabilities as it contains higher levels of white blood cells. The body sends these cells to the area to fight foreign bodies trying to enter the open wound.
The warmness felt around the site is a result of increased blood flow. The above reactions are normal and to be expected during the first stage of the tattoo healing process. Yet, you should see a doctor if you experience any extreme bruising or redness around your tattoo, especially if it’s been a few days since getting it done.
Redness or bruising around the tattoo that isn’t improving can be a sign of tattoo infection. Worsening of these symptoms, especially if associated with increasing pain, is a sign of infection. Towards the end of this stage, you will begin to see the formation of scabbing.
- As long you’re cleaning away any excess plasma and ink, the scabbing shouldn’t be too thick or heavy;
- Your tattoo will start to look more dull and cloudy than it initially did, and this is normal;
- The sharpness will come back slowly as the tattoo heals;
It’s worth noting that tattoos can continue to look worse before they look better throughout the healing stages. This tattoo is scabbing quite heavily, so will probably peel away in larger flakes Another matter you must consider is sleep. Sleeping can become problematic if the tattoo is in an awkward location, like on your shoulder or side. You may also find it hard to sleep well due to the soreness of the tattoo. Additionally, you’ll want to keep the tattoo from rubbing and sticking to the bedsheets as well as you can.
While sleeping can be awkward or worrying depending on the tattoo’s location, it should become more manageable after a couple of nights as the area heals. Check out our sleeping with a new tattoo article for more information about getting a restful night with new ink.
Finally, you should keep your tattoo away from direct sun exposure for at least 3-4 until it heals. UV radiation can be very damaging to tattoos, especially while they’re still healing. It would help if you also were careful once the tattoo has finished healing, too.
Do tattoos look blurry while healing?
Inconsistent or Poor Aftercare – This is one of the major reasons why a new tattoo will look blurry. One of the most important things you can do after getting a tattoo is clean it and keep it moisturized with lotion or beard oil. This process must be done for several weeks following your session to provide sufficient healing time.
How often do you moisturize a new tattoo?
Should I apply lotion to my tattoo? What kind of tattoo care products do you recommend? – Yes! Moisturizing your tattoo regularly is extremely important. You should moisturize your clean tattoo 3 – 6 times per day, for roughly two weeks (though proper skincare is always important, and most tattoo enthusiasts moisturize their tattoos daily for life!). A white cream lotion or moisturizer, preferably unscented, should be used! We recommend these fragrance-free, white cream lotions: Aveeno , Curel , and Eucerin . Be warned: your favorite fragranced lotion is not a good option for moisturizing your tattoo – this can cause an excruciating burning sensation when applied to the tattoo, which is essentially an open wound. The fewer chemicals in the product, the better! Pure cocoa butter or shea butter is also popular for darker skin tones and is a fine option. There are some manufacturers who design products specifically for tattoo aftercare that work well for long-term care (such as Tattoo Goo , H2Ocean , and Hustle Butter ). Do NOT use aloe vera gel to moisturize, and we don’t recommend A&D ointment either, as the oil in these products can extract some of the ink from your tattoo.
Can you over moisturize a tattoo?
What Are The Risks of Over Moisturizing a Tattoo? – By applying thicker layers of lotion or ointment, several times a day (or every hour or two as some people do), you’re risking over-moisturizing a tattoo. By over-moisturizing a tattoo, you can cause the following problems;
- Due to excess moisture, the tattoo won’t be able to dry and heal
- Excess moisture can create a perfect environment for bacteria and germ growth
- Over moisturizing can lead to tattoo inflammation and infection
- Excess moisture can cause clogged pores since the moisturizer prevents the skin from breathing
- Excess moisture can cause the tattooed skin to break out
To avoid these issues, make sure to follow the moisturizing rules we mentioned before. However, make sure to not under moisturizing your tattoo as well. Some people are afraid they might over-moisturize their tattoo, so they leave it dehydrated, which results in heavy scabbing and tattoo dryness. So, make sure to stay in the middle and simply apply a thin layer of lotion/ointment twice a day.
When should I stop washing my tattoo?
Tattoo Healing Process | day by day
The first wash – After usually no less than 5 hours, it is safe to remove the bandage and wash the tattoo. After thorough hand-washing, a person can gently wash the tattoo with hypoallergenic soap and warm water using their fingers. The moisturizer on the skin will come off, and the tattoo may appear as if it is oozing ink or a thick, sticky substance.
This reaction is not usually a cause for concern, as it is just the excess fluid and ink from the tattoo process. After washing, a person should pat the skin with a clean paper towel and allow it to air-dry for up to an hour.
When the area is completely dry, they can apply a thin layer of moisturizer to the tattoo, but leave it uncovered to allow the skin to breathe.
When can I shower after a tattoo?
Download Article Download Article You have a new tattoo, and you love it! Now you need to take proper care of it to keep your skin healthy and your tattoo looking nice. Because of the way the ink is applied, a fresh tattoo is an open wound, and you must take care to allow it to heal properly. Start by taking off the bandage the tattoo artist put on, and then clean your tattoo. You’ll need to follow the artist’s instructions for cleaning your tattoo 3 times a day for at least 2 weeks.
- 1 Listen to the tattoo artist about when to take off your bandage. Tattoos heal at different speeds, depending on things like your skin sensitivity and how big or deep the tattoo is. Your tattoo artist will tell you how long you should keep your bandage over your tattoo. 
- If they don’t tell you, ask them.
- When the artist finishes your tattoo, they will wash it off and treat it with an antiseptic. They will then apply a bandage to your tattoo, which will help keep bacteria away from it.
- 2 Wait 2-3 hours to take off the bandage if you’re not given a time period. If you forget to ask or can’t get a hold of the tattoo artist, a good waiting period is 2-3 hours. If your tattoo is really large, you can wait up to 6 hours. That gives your tattoo time to get over the initial shock before you shower.
- Be sure to remove the bandage within the first day, as bacteria can breed in the moist environment underneath it. 
- 3 Remove the bandage applied by the tattoo artist before showering. Before touching the bandage, scrub your hands thoroughly. Wash them in warm water with soap for at least 20 seconds. Then, you can peel back the bandage that’s covering your tattoo. 
- Don’t try to shower with the bandage in place. The water will soak into the bandage, and the bandage will hold it against your tattoo, which can introduce bacteria to it.
- 4 Take the bandage off in the shower if it’s sticking to your tattoo. Sometimes, the bandage will stick to the tattoo, which can be painful when you try to take it off. Run the bandage under indirect, warm water in the shower, which will help loosen the adhesive. Then move on to cleaning up your tattoo.
- 1 Wait up to 24 hours to shower. Talk to your tattoo artist about how long it’s best to wait. Generally, though, you can shower within the first 24 hours after getting your new ink.
- Waiting 2 days gives your skin more time to form a barrier over the tattoo. 
- 2 Use lukewarm water. Hot water can make your tattoo sting, so it’s best to avoid it. Hot water too soon after getting a tattoo can also make you lose color from your tattoo, as it opens your pores, so it’s best to avoid it. 
- Try running cold water on the tattoo for 30 seconds at the end of your shower to tighten your pores.
- 3 Turn the spray to gentle or keep your tattoo out of the spray. Don’t use a hard spray on your tattoo, as it can irritate it. If you only have a showerhead with a heavy spray, let the water run over the tattoo indirectly.
- You can also use a clean cup or your hand to pour a gentle stream of water over your tattoo.
EXPERT TIP Burak Moreno is a Professional Tattoo Artist with over 10 years of experience. Burak is based in New York City and is a tattoo artist for Fleur Noire Tattoo Parlour in Brooklyn. Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, he has worked as a tattoo artist throughout Europe. He works on many different styles but mostly does bold lines and strong color. Burak Moreno Tattoo Artist Keep your shower short, as well. When you first have a new tattoo, don’t take very long or very hot showers, and don’t take baths while it’s healing.
- 4 Use your hands to apply a mild, unscented soap to your tattoo. Any mild soap will do, including bar soap or liquid hand soap. You can use antibacterial soap if you prefer. Lather the soap in your hands, then apply it to the tattoo. 
- Just rub it in gently with your fingers. Avoid using loofahs and sponges until the tattoo heals, as they can carry bacteria.
- Your tattoo will likely have dried blood and other debris on it, which you need to remove. However, you should not scrub it, as that can irritate it.
- 5 Rinse the tattoo off gently with water. Once you rub the soap into your tattoo, pour water over it to rinse the soap off. If you need to, use your fingers to gently rub the soap off under the water. 
- Hop out of the shower quickly. When in the shower, your tattoo comes in contact with steam, water, and soap. That can be painful and irritating for your tattoo, so avoid staying in the shower too long. Also, try to keep your tattoo out from under running water when washing the rest of your body for at least a week. 
- 6 Pat the tattoo dry with a clean, soft towel. Don’t rub the tattoo with the towel, as that could irritate it. Simply dab at the tattoo gently, until it’s dry. You may notice a little bit of blood, which is fine. 
- You can use paper towels if you don’t have a newly cleaned towel on hand or if your usual bath towel leaves fibers on your skin. Dirty towels can introduce bacteria.
- 1 Wash your tattoo 3 times a day for the first week to keep it clean. While your tattoo is healing, you need to practice good hygiene to keep it from getting infected. Wash with a mild, unscented soap, and use your fingers to rub it in. Rinse it off gently with water. 
- Pat it dry with a clean towel.
- 2 Use a moisturizing ointment on your tattoo once it’s dry. Pick one that’s scent-free and preferably hypoallergenic so it won’t irritate your tattoo. Gently rub it in with clean hands. 
- Start with an ointment. You can try a lotion after a week or so.
- 3 Let your tattoo breathe by leaving the bandage off. Don’t re-bandage your tattoo once you’ve applied the moisturizer. You only need to keep a bandage on for the first day. After that, it’s better to let your tattoo get fresh air. 
- 4 Avoid getting in the tub while your tattoo is healing. Sitting a tub full of water can introduce bacteria to your tattoo. Stick to showers instead, which are less likely to introduce bacteria. 
- 5 Skip the swimming pool and lakes. Large bodies of water are teeming with bacteria, and you don’t want those bacteria getting in your tattoo. Wait until your tattoo is completely healed before you go swimming. 
- Healing can take 45 days to 6 months, depending on the size and depth of your tattoo. 
- You should also avoid going to the gym so that sweat and bacteria don’t build up on your skin.
Add New Question
- Question I just got a finger tattoo, how can I shower with that? Kiara Hamed is a Tattoo Artist based in Dallas, Texas. She has over nine years of tattoo designing experience. She received her Tattoo Artist Certification in 2010 and a BS in Computer Information Systems from Clark University Atlanta in 2013. Tattoo Artist Expert Answer You can shower regularly; just be careful. Finger tattoos are hard because they get wet so often
- Question Will my tattoo peel if I wash it on the second day after getting it done? Kiara Hamed is a Tattoo Artist based in Dallas, Texas. She has over nine years of tattoo designing experience. She received her Tattoo Artist Certification in 2010 and a BS in Computer Information Systems from Clark University Atlanta in 2013. Tattoo Artist Expert Answer The tattoo shouldn’t peel on the second day. If you see peeling, it could be your ink coming out.
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- If a bath is the only way you are able to wash yourself, take as brief a bath as possible and wash your tattoo afterward.
- Don’t soak the tattoo in the ointment. Put it on lightly so your tattoo is still able to breathe.
- Avoid letting your tattoo soak in water until it heals.
How long after a tattoo can you shower normally?
After 2-3 weeks, or once your tattoo has finished scabbing and peeling, you should be able to go back to your usual showering routine and get the tattoo as wet as you like with no problems.
What should you not do after a tattoo?
Why is my tattoo fading after 3 days?
This is a bit of a trick question. The reason being, is that a tattoo “fades” to the naked eye within days of application. This occurs because as the skin heals, the top layer dies and new skin forms to take its place. During this period the epidermis typically has a faded appearance. However, this is a natural part of the tattoo healing process and as the peeling subsides and the dead skin falls away the design will once again look crisp and fresh.
- Still, it won’t have that same deep dark tone as it did when your tattooist put his/her gun away;
- Anyone who has received a tattoo already knows this;
- But what you want to know now, is when can you expect a tattoo to fade in the longer term;
Let’s have a look.
How should a tattoo feel after 2 days?
Traditional Tattoo Healing Method – Directly Following Your Tattoo Appointment The tattoo healing process starts as soon as you walk out of the tattoo studio. Your tattoo artist should cover your tattoo with some type of wrap (cling wrap, medical pads, etc.
) to protect it on your way home. “This usually stays on for approximately 2 hours,” says Caldwell. “It will trap any of the blood and plasma (clear fluid) that leaks out immediately after being tattooed.
This bandage also protects your new tattoo from the outside elements and keeps the blood from clotting to form a scab. ” Your tattoo artist will cover your tattoo with a temporary bandage or plastic wrap. After removing the covering placed on your tattoo by your artist, you should carefully wash the tattoo with warm, soapy water using an unscented, antibacterial soap. Do not use any type of washcloth or loofah—simply clean it with your hands to remove any plasma and ink from your skin.
- “You want to make sure you always pat dry with clean paper towels and then apply a thin layer of ointment,” says Caldwell;
- Try to wear loose-fitting clothing to bed, since your tattoo will likely continue to leak overnight;
Days 1-3: Oozing and Sore During the first few days, your tattoo is still an open wound and will be sore, painful, and warm to the touch. The skin around your tattoo might also appear slightly red and swollen. During the first days of tattoo healing your tattoo will continue to release plasma, blood, and ink—this is completely normal.
Plasma, which is a clear liquid, makes up the largest part of your blood ( 55 percent ) and it’s release is part of your skin’s natural healing process. It’s important to keep your tattoo as clean as possible during this time.
Follow the same cleaning instructions (wash with soapy water, pat dry, apply a thin layer of ointment) as the night before. “Wash your new tattoo at least two times a day—when you wake up and before bed,” says Caldwell. If the tattoo is really leaky, you can add one more wash to the rotation to remove excess goop. Wash your new tattoo carefully in the shower using fragrance-free soap. Apply a thin layer of moisturizer or aftercare ointment after your tattoo is fully dry to help minimize scabbing. “The moisturizer/ointment is crucial to keeping your tattoo from forming a scab,” says Caldwell. “The softening of the skin prevents this. ” Follow your artist’s aftercare instructions carefully.
All tattoo artists recommend different aftercare products and have their own tattoo healing methods. Trust and listen to your artist. Days 3-7: Dry, Tight, and Starting to Flake After the third or fourth day following your tattoo appointment, your tattoo will begin to dry out.
It may feel tight. Swelling should start to subside, though your skin might still feel warm and uncomfortable. By the end of the first week, you will likely see your tattoo flaking. This is also a normal part of the tattoo healing process. What tattoo flaking looks like. “Flaking is simply your body shedding its outermost layer of skin,” says Erin Belley , an artist who works at the Parkdale location of Boss Tattoos Collective in Calgary, Alberta. “But this time, the skin had been damaged and filled with ink, so it comes off in larger flakes and full of color.
- ” If you see your tattoo flaking, don’t be alarmed;
- This is not a sign that ink is being removed from the skin;
- Just make sure you let your tattoo flake naturally;
- “As long as you’re not picking at it, scrubbing it, or peeling the flaky skin off, you should be fine,” adds Caldwell;
Days 7-14: More Flaking, Scabbing, and Itching During the second week of tattoo healing, your tattoo will continue to flake, and you may start to see scabs forming over some areas of the tattoo. While trying to prevent scabbing is recommended, tattoo scabbing is not uncommon.
“I would consider scabbing normal, but not ideal in tattoo healing,” says Belley. “Scabbing is what happens when the plasma is not efficiently cleaned off of the tattoo after your body is finished producing it (usually between 24-48 hours) and it evaporates and dries.
” Caldwell explains that scabbing may also happen if you apply too much moisturizer or ointment to your tattoo or if a particular part your skin was overworked during your session. Do not pick at the scabs on your tattoo. Continue to wash and lightly moisturize your tattoo as instructed by your artist.
During this time, you may also experience the dreaded tattoo itch. Some may experience a mild itch, while others will experience an intense itch. Your skin will be dry and flakey as it heals, so some level of itchiness is to be expected.
Some clients may also have a slight allergic reaction to some inks, which may cause an itchy feeling. Although it may take every ounce of willpower, do not scratch your new tattoo. Not only could this affect how it looks, but you can also cause infection or irritation.
Eventually, the itch should subside. Days 15-30: Slightly Dry and Dull Most tattoos will finish flaking and essentially be healed around the 2-week mark. But it still may take a couple of weeks for your tattoo to fully settle in.
During this time, your tattoo may look a little dull or faded. This is normal and once the tattoo is fully healed and settled in, its brightness will return. You may also feel slightly raised portions of your tattoo during this stage, but this should eventually disappear.
How do I know if I blew out my tattoo?
– You’ll know you’re experiencing a tattoo blowout within several days of getting a new tattoo. Some people experience mild blowouts, while in other cases, blowouts are more extreme. In all cases, tattoo blowouts cause the lines in your tattoo to blur, and the ink used to create the lines usually moves well outside the edges of the tattoo.
How do I keep my tattoo black?
Will my tattoo lighten up after it heals?
Tattoos can get lighter after healing, but it isn’t a given. Your professional tattoo artist will guide you for the aftercare routine, but know that overexposure to sunlight, allergies or the skin losing some of its elasticity could make a tattoo drop quality.