When Can I Start Using Lotion On My Tattoo?

Did you get some new ink recently? Congratulations. Body art is one of the most exciting forms of art since you are the artist’s canvas. Your new tattoo is an expression of freedom, and passion. As such, it needs to be properly taken care of. 

Tattoo aftercare is the most important part of the entire tattooing process. It’s what safeguards your new ink from both infection, and warping. Part of the tattoo aftercare process is applying lotion to the new tattoo. It is important to know what type of lotion to use, and when and how to use it.

If you look into tattoo aftercare, you will notice that many people talk about treating the “wound.” The wound they are referring to is actually your tattoo. Tattooing is the process of cutting and injecting tattoo ink into the top layer of your skin. So your fresh ink is very much a fresh wound. Hence why it is so important that you take proper care of it.

Here’s what you need to know about using tattoo lotion to care for your new tattoo. Including what types of lotion to use, and when to use them., as well as an alternative tattoo healing process called “dry healing.”

When can you begin applying lotion to your new tattoo? You need to wait until it has completely dried. At this time, you’ll need to make to use an suitable lotion that won’t harm your new ink.

Don’t Moisturize Your Skin Until It’s Dry

The very first step in the tattoo aftercare process is actually a waiting game. The ink will likely be wet for the first couple of days after getting the tattoo. It is important that you do not apply lotion or moisturize your tattoo until it is fully dry. 

This will take anywhere from 1-3 days. Leave your tattoo covered until it is dry, and change your bandaging twice a day. When you change your bandage, you will want to clean the wound with fragrance-free, antibacterial soap. Softly dabb your tattoo with a wet towel that has a small amount of soap on it. After cleaning, re-bandage your tattoo.

You will know it’s time to apply lotion when the wound begins to itch, and you will notice that the ink is beginning to scab over. Do not pick at the scabs. This is the natural healing process at work.

After all, your tattoo is a scar. Interfering with the natural scarring process can cause your tattoo to become infected, or warp.

How to Moisturize Your Tattoo

Here is the step by step process of how to moisturize your tattoo with lotion, as well as when to moisturize, and what lotions to use. Make sure to get similar step by step instructions from your tattoo artist after your session.

Step 1 – Unwrap and Wash

The first step is to slowly unwrap your tattoo. Check to make sure that the ink is fully dry. Dry ink will be in the beginning stages of scabbing over, and only a very small amount of ink should leak from the tattoo. You can also pull at the sides of your skin where the tattoo is. If it feels taught, like it’s about to snap, then your tattoo is dry.

As mentioned before, gently clean your tattoo with a wet towel and fragrance-free antibacterial soap.

Step 2 – Dry The Tattoo

After cleaning the tattoo, pat it dry with a dry paper or cloth towel. Do not rub your tattoo dry as this can disrupt the scabs that is the natural healing process. Rubbing can also cause fibers from the towel to get lodged in the tattoo. That is not a fun removal process. Make sure to use extra caution when drying your tattoo.

Step 3 – Apply Lotion To Your Tattoo

Apply a thin layer of unscented, color fee lotion to your tattoo. The amount of lotion you use should spread entirely into your tattoo with ease, and without leaving excess. Using excess lotion can cause your pores to become clogged. This can lead to irritation of your tattoo, or even an infection.

Your tattoo may still feel dry, itchy, and possibly painful after you moisturize. It may also begin to flake and peel. This is normal. It is suggested that you do not peel off any of the flaking edges on your tattoo. They will fall off naturally as your tattoo heals.

Effects of Using Tattoo Lotion

Your tattoo may burn slightly after you apply lotion. This is normal if your tattooing session lasted more than one hour. The burning sensation should subside within 20-40 seconds after lotion application.

However, your tattoo should not sting after you use moisturizer. A stinging sensation means that the lotion you are using has added vitamins or minerals. These vitamins and minerals are great for your skin, but can negatively affect the healing of your tattoo.

Here are a few of the best lotions to use for a new tattoo with links to them on Amazon:

After Inked Moisturizer and Tattoo Aftercare Lotion  is a preferred, tattoo-specific moisturizing cream. Your tattoo shop will likely carry this product, or similar ones. Tattoo-specific creams can be a safe bet as they will likely not have any additives that will harm your tattoo. Ask your tattoo artist which brand and product they recommend. 

How Often You Should You Apply Lotion?

You should moisturize your tattoo three times per day. Morning, midday, and night. Following the step by step process each time, with cleaning your tattoo first. You should also make sure to moisturize your tattoo every time you bathe.

Most tattoo artists recommend applying lotion to your tattoo when you wake up, in the middle of the work day, and in the evening before you go to bed.

Your body becomes dehydrated when you sleep. This can make waking up with a fresh tattoo painful. It is important to moisturize your tattoo in the morning to make up for the dehydration. The best time to do so would be after your morning shower. 

Your tattoo will likely feel the driest in the middle of the day. It is suggested that you find a comfortable place to moisturize your tattoo. This will help rehydrate your skin.

Moisturizing should become part of your nightly routine whenever you have a fresh tattoo. When you are winding down and getting ready for bed, apply some lotion to your tattoo. This will help keep it from getting too dry during the night.

Tattoo Dry Healing

There is a camp of tattoo fans that subscribe to the dry tattoo healing process. This means applying no lotion whatsoever to your tattoo, and hence, letting it air dry. This is one of the most painful ways for a tattoo to heal, but many tattoo purists swear by this process, claiming that it produces the best quality finished (healed) product.

Dry Healing still requires that you clean your tattoo. This is done the same way as was mentioned earlier. With non-scented, antibacterial soap and a clean towel.

When you dry heal your tattoo, it will likely burn, itch, and may even be painful. If you opt to air dry it, then you have to fight off the urge to scratch your tattoo. And, it will itch.

The reason some tattoo heads subscribe to air drying is that some many lotions have added vitamins and minerals that are good for healthy skin, but not good to a healing wound. When these active lotion ingredients get inside a fresh tattoo, they can either cause an infection, warping of the tattoo, or both.

Dry healing completely eliminates the possibility of lotion irritating, infecting or warping your tattoo. Because, well, it completely eliminates the lotion factor.

It is important to note that if you are diligent about the type of lotion you apply to your tattoo, then you do not have to worry about it getting infected, or warping. The best recommendations come from the pros, so ask your artist what they recommend for healing your tattoo. 

Trust the Pros

At the end of the day, both camps – the moisturizing – and – the dry healing –  have pros and cons. The choice is ultimately up to you. Above all else, you should trust your artist as you are letting them permanently ink your body. Ask what they recommended. Ask any questions you may have about what brands and types of lotion to use. They will likely sell tattoo specific ointments. Pick their brain about dry healing. Then, follow their suggestions.