My absolute favourite place in the world is soaking in the bath. Surrounded by candles, reading a book.
But sadly getting into the bathtub doesn’t exactly go hand in hand with getting tattooed. As soon as my new tattoo is wrapped up in clingfilm, I’m counting down the days until I can have a bath. But how long should you wait? How soon is too soon? And when can I take one of those infamous tattooed legs in the bath photos for my Instagram?
Here’s our guide to all your bubbling questions about getting in the bath after getting a new tattoo…
What happens if you submerge a new tattoo in water?
Tattoos are open wounds, so during the first few weeks the skin is still healing. One of the biggest risks when submerging your new tattoo in a bubble bath is infection. Getting your new tattoo too wet can prevent it from healing properly, and it might end up looking patchy.
It's super important to keep your new tattoo clean. So having a shower is the best choice so you can wash your tattoo but not fully submerge it in water.
A gentle cleanser is best but don't scrub the skin too hard. Lather it up and clean the wound, then rinse off the foam. Ensure you clean off any blood, ointment, ink, and plasma from your tattoo. But do not use a loofah or anything that will scrape the skin too harshly – FYI, flannels etc can also be carrying bacteria that could bring on an infection.
Once you're out of the shower, pat your new tattoo dry – do not rub it hard – to get off any excess water. Once your tattoo is dry and clean, then apply a small amount of cream to keep it from drying out too much.
How many hours / days / weeks after getting my new tattoo can I get in the bath?
I get it. After getting a tattoo, you feel super sensitive and you’re craving the warm hug a bath can give. Okay, look, think about it. It depends where on your body you’ve been tattooed. I’ve been known to dangle a fresh tattoo covered in clingfilm on my arm out the side of the bath because I just neeeeeeddd that soak. But I, obviously, wouldn’t do the same if it was on my thigh or my back or my stomach. Basically just do not submerge that new tattoo in water for too long.
Most importantly, listen to the advise of the artist who tattooed you. Every tattooist has an awareness of their own work so will give you tailored advice based on that. They will also have tattooed your skin, so will be giving you a plan that's just for you. They will know how long their work usually takes to heal, so take note of that.
You can also ask them all the questions on your mind while you're getting tattooed. Ask them how long they usually advise to wait before getting in the bath or going for a swim.
Is it okay to use my scented bubble bath?
When the tattoo is fully healed you can use whatever products you like. But while your tattoo is healing, you should only use unscented and unperfumed products to avoid any irritation or infection.
The healing process usually takes around two to three weeks, but of course, every body is different. As you become more tattooed, you will learn to understand your own skin and what and how long the process takes for you.
If I get a tattoo on my arm, can I put the rest of my body in the bath?
See above. Not advised but can be done if you're very careful. Warning: do not submerge.
Writer Rosalie Hurr's tattooed legs in the bath
What if I accidentally submerge my tattoo in water?
Here’s the thing, the first 24 hours are the most important in the healing stages. But if you do accidentally submerge your new work of art, don’t worry. Wash it up, pat it dry and learn from your mistakes. It is what it is.
Okay, so when can I take one of those tattooed legs in the bath ubiquitous on Instagram then?
When your tattoo is fully healed, you can stop worrying about it so much. Although it usually takes around three weeks, a new tattoo can also take as long as six months to fully settle. Just keep an eye on it, and do what's right for you.