Will Dry Healing Ruin A Tattoo?

So, you got a tattoo? You love the craftmanship, are satisfied with the product, and want to maintain its beauty. Well, with great body art comes great responsibility, or whatever Uncle Ben said.

After discussing proper healing procedures for your tattoo with your artist, you may hear about dry versus wet healing. Dry healing may be your best bet if you are interested in an au natural option for aftercare for your fresh ink.

Dry healing is a controversial aftercare method for a tattoo that has long been debated whether it is a truly effective form of aftercare or if it can even ruin a tattoo. If you are considering dry healing a tattoo, you may find yourself contemplating these questions.  

What exactly is dry healing?

Dry healing is a form of aftercare that doesn’t require much. In fact, it doesn’t require anything. There is common knowledge that the human body can heal itself, and dry healing takes that very seriously. It’s relying entirely on the body to heal the tattoo itself without any added help from any form of moisturizer or ointment.

Dry healing does require proper hygiene for your tattoo as it heals, so washing it with a nonirritant soap and water is still essential. After your tattoo is cleansed correctly, one thing is essential; do not touch your tattoo. Without the bandage, it may be tempting to let your hand sneak up for a good scratch, but it is vital to avoid touching the tattoo whenever possible during the healing process.

Though this seems like an easy option, there are still hazards to dry healing. There can be significant discomfort from the itchiness of the tattoo (which is not uncommon when healing but can be reduced with moisturizer).

To avoid damage to the skin, there needs to be proper and constant protection from the sun while dry healing, which could get in the way of daily life. Plus, you could be at risk of permanently damaging your art.

Did you say it can ruin my tattoo!?

Yep. Though itching and scabbing are standard with the healing process, dry healing can only make these issues worse. The chance of drying out your tattoo to a level that can cause scabbing of the area is much higher with dry healing than other aftercare options. The open air can cause more irritation and bring attention to the scabbing area, which could be scratched unintentionally but cause permanent damage.

If the scabs are ripped off either purposefully or accidentally, there will be consequences for your tattoo. The images can become warped looking nothing like the original concept, the color of the tattoo could change, or even dull, and thick scarring can cause the skin to rise underneath the ink. Pretty much, there is a chance that your tattoo can end up looking completely different than the original finished product.

What Are My Other Options? 

Your tattoo artist will share their own personal versions of aftercare, which was probably wet healing. Wet healing is the most common way to go about healing a fresh tattoo. Wet healing, or moist healing, is pretty much the evil twin of dry healing; it requires implementing the moisturizers or ointments that an artist may suggest.

Though both forms of healing require the tattoo to stay clean and for the individual to stay hydrated to keep the skin hydrated, wet healing has a few more steps than its kin. Proper moisturizer is applied to maintain a state of ‘wet’ for your healing ink which keeps the skin hydrated and less irritated.

What If I Still Want To Give Dry Healing a Try?

That’s understandable! There are some positive aspects when it comes to dry healing:

  • It’s the organic, all-natural option. If you are someone who wants to avoid unnecessary chemicals on their body, dry healing is an option. Unnecessary irritants can be found in certain lotions or ointments, which can be troublesome for individuals who suffer from sensitive skin. Dry healing works as the better option because there are no additives to expose to the healing skin though the area is kept clean. This process, some dry healing advocates believe, helps the tattoo for a quicker process.  
  • It’s the cheapest option. Tattoo artists can offer some high-cost ointments or lotions when discussing aftercare which can turn some freshly-inked individuals away. The cost to dry heal is literally nothing. While moisturizers for proper wet healing aftercare techniques make a small dent in your wallet, dry healing is a great option to keep the cost down.
  • It’s the easiest option. If you are a low-maintenance type of healer, this is the option for you because it is pretty much hands-free. Literally, you just let your tattoo hang out and enjoy the ride in the open air while your body heals it. All you must do is make sure it’s washed and make sure you avoid touching it.  

Why Should I Avoid Dry Healing?

As with anything that has some positive aspects, there are some negative things lurking underneath the surface. Other than risking the chance of ruining the tattoo, some dry healing negatives to consider, such as:

  • Unbearable itchiness. Don’t get me wrong, healing always comes with its own set of itchiness that takes sheer willpower to not give into. But dry healing can cause this irritation to increase because of its exposure to the open air which can cause irritation. As mentioned above, due to the consequences, it is best to avoid scratching when possible. Still, with dry healing, you may risk the unfortunate possibility of giving in to the awful irritation.
  • The tattoo needs constant protection. Even if no moisturizers or bandages are involved, the area still needs protection from bacteria, sunlight, and even physical damage. Exposure to bacteria could possibly cause a nasty, puss-induced infection in the area. Baggy, loose, and light clothes are still required even more so for the dry healing process because the healing skin is at constant risk of exposure to harmful environments.
  • The risk of a cracked tattoo. The risks of the ways you can ruin your tattoo were mentioned, but a second warning is necessary. Dry healing can lead to severe skin cracking of the tattoo. Obviously, during the tattoo’s healing process, the skin will dry out and begin to crack. However, dry healing can over-dry the area so severely that the skin can crack, causing scabbing of the skin, leading to irreversible damage.

I can’t make up my mind. What would you suggest?

Listening to your tattoo artist. At the end of the day, it’s your art on your body. You are entitled to heal however you may please. But you should always try to give your artist at least a chance because they know what they are talking about when it comes to aftercare.

Dry healing is always an option, but discuss it with your tattoo artist when considering it. The cons may outweigh the pros for some, but for others, dry healing may be the organically excellent way to go! However, aftercare is subjective.

Remember when you decide to approach aftercare for your beloved new piece of ink. Just remember to take care of it the way you would take care of anything you cherish.