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The ultimate guide to tattoo aftercare

Words by Adam Jolley
The ultimate guide to tattoo aftercare

Proper tattoo aftercare is crucial to ensure the longevity and vibrancy of your ink. In this guide, we'll walk you through some essential tattoo aftercare advice, including step-by-step instructions for each day your tattoo heals, and highlight the importance of using the best tattoo aftercare cream for optimal healing and preservation.

To kickstart your tattoo aftercare journey, it's good to understand that your tattoo goes through a number of healing stages. From the initial inflammatory phase to the peeling and fading stage, each step requires specific care to achieve the best results. Remember, everyone's tattoo heals differently. This is only a rough guide, and timings may vary.

Tattoo aftercare instructions day by day

Day 1: Immediate care

Leave the bandage on: Keep the initial bandage on for 2-4 hours, protecting the fresh tattoo from bacteria.

Gentle cleansing: After removing the bandage, clean the tattooed area with lukewarm water and a mild, fragrance-free tattoo soap. Harsh scrubbing is definitely a no-no here.

Pat, don't rub: After cleaning, pat the tattoo dry with a clean paper towel — avoid using towels that may harbor bacteria.

Day 2: Introduce moisturisation

Apply your tattoo aftercare cream: Begin applying a thin layer of your chosen aftercare cream to keep the tattoo moisturised. Look for creams containing gentle, natural ingredients. You don't want anything too harsh that may irritate your healing skin.

Avoid soaking: It's still early days on your tattoo's healing journey, so you should refrain from prolonged exposure to water, such as swimming or hot tubs.

Day 3-7: Maintenance and observation

Regular moisturisation: Continue applying the tattoo aftercare cream 2-3 times a day. There's a fine balance to be struck here between keeping your tattoo moisrturised and not overdoing it. It's best to apply small amounts of moisturiser and spread thinly over your skin to ensure your don't get it too soggy.

Note, as your tattoo heals, moisturisation is really important. Keeping the tattoo adequately moisturised reduces the likelihood of excessive scabbing, promoting a smoother healing process. Moisturisers can also act as a relief to the inevitable itching that occurs as the tattoo begins to peel. Regular application soothes the skin and helps resist the urge to scratch.

Monitor for infection: Watch for signs of infection, such as excessive redness, swelling, or unusual discharge.

Avoid sun exposure: Shield your tattoo from direct sunlight, as UV rays can hinder the healing process and cause fading.

Day 8-14: Nurturing the healing tattoo

Gradually resume normal activities: As the tattoo heals, reintroduce regular activities while remaining cautious of any irritation or signs of infection.

Sunscreen protection: It's best to to keep your new tattoo out of the Sun. If this isn't possible, then you should apply a high SPF sunscreen to protect your tattoo from harmful UV rays. The Sun is one of the main contributors to tattoo fading, so it's best to get in to good habits here from the start.

Wear breathable fabrics: Opt for loose, cotton clothing to prevent irritation and allow the tattoo to breathe.

Resist the itch: As the tattoo peels, resist the urge to scratch. Instead, moisturise and let the dead skin slough off naturally.

Weeks 2-4: Patience and continued care

Hydrate and nourish: Continue moisturising the tattooed area, ensuring it remains hydrated.

Avoid harsh products: Refrain from using products containing alcohol or strong chemicals, as they can irritate healing skin.

Months 1-3: Settling into permanence

Touch-up consideration: Some tattoos may require touch-ups; consult with your artist if needed.

Regular moisturisation: Maintain a routine of moisturising to keep the skin supple and the tattoo vibrant.

Long-term care: Preserving the artistry

Beyond the initial weeks, consistent moisturisation becomes a key component in the long-term care of your tattoo, influencing the vibrancy and clarity of the ink over time.

Hydrate and nourish: Moisturising the tattooed area should ideally become a routine, helping the skin remain supple and aiding in the prevention of dryness or flakiness.

Avoid irritants: Using a gentle, fragrance-free moisturiser ensures that the healing skin is not exposed to potential irritants.

Healthy lifestyle: A balanced diet and hydration contribute to overall skin health.

Protect from sun exposure: Continued use of sunscreen helps prevent fading and preserves the longevity of your tattoo.

The best tattoo aftercare creams

The best tattoo aftercare to choose will depend on where you're at in your healing journey. 

The best tattoo aftercare creams for fresh tattoos:

When choosing the right product for healing your new tattoo, opt for tattoo aftercare creams with natural ingredients like aloe vera, vitamin E, and chamomile for their soothing properties.

Fragrance-free formulas: Fragrances can irritate healing skin, so choose creams with no added scents.

For fresh tattoos, we recommend the Stories & Ink Aftercare Cream. The active formula reduces inflammation while soothing and hydrating damaged skin. And, with a non-greasy texture, it'll allow your skin to breathe during its recovery.

Shop the Stories & Ink Aftercare Cream

The best tattoo care for healed tattoos

Once your tattoo has completed the healing process, maintaining its vibrancy becomes a long-term consideration. To keep your healed tattoo looking vibrant and well-preserved, it's essential to use a high-quality tattoo aftercare lotion or moisturiser. Opt for products specifically designed for healed tattoos, ensuring they're free from harsh chemicals and fragrances that could potentially irritate the skin. Look for ingredients like aloe vera, shea butter, and vitamin E, as they provide nourishment and help keep the skin hydrated. Applying a thin layer of such a moisturiser regularly not only enhances the visual appeal of your tattoo but also safeguards it from environmental factors that might contribute to fading. 

For healed tattoos, we recommend the Stories & Ink Daily Moisturiser. Containing Inca Inchi Oil, Vitamin E Acetate and Coconut Oil, it'll help hydrate your skin and improve its elasticity, keeping your tattoos looking tip-top for years to come.

Shop the Stories & Ink Daily Moisturiser

By following these tattoo aftercare instructions day by day and incorporating the best tattoo aftercare cream into your routine, you can ensure a smooth healing process and preserve the vibrancy of your ink for years to come. Remember, the key to a stunning and long-lasting tattoo lies in your commitment to proper aftercare.