Tattoos hold different meanings for different people. They can be an expression of our identities, a memento of someone or something we love, or even just a whimsical choice with no real forethought. Whatever your reasons for getting a tattoo, a crucial step in keeping it looking good over time is good tattoo aftercare. Not just any skincare will do!
While its always best to follow instructions provided by your tattoo artist, there are some things you can do to keep your skin healthy and to protect and preserve your tattoo. Even better? You can do it naturally, without resorting to harsh, chemical-based products.
Natural Tattoo Aftercare Basics
Research your artist and the parlor
The very first step to ensuring safety and quality is to research tattoo parlors and artists. You want to be sure the artist you choose is experienced, reputable and hygienic – after all, tattoo artists and work on a lot of skin.
Cleanse daily, dry heal and hydrate
After you get your tattoo, it’s important to alternate between cleansing, air drying and moisturizing.
- Cleanse: Gently rinse your tattoo morning and evening with lukewarm water and a mild, natural soap – like Thayers Witch Hazel Aloe Vera Bar.
- Air dry: Some opt for a ‘dry-healing’ method for the first few days after they get a tattoo, where no ointments are applied. This allows the skin and fresh scabbing to completely dry out between cleansing.
- Moisturize: After cleansing, pat your skin dry (taking care to not rub away any scabbing), then gently apply a natural balm or ointment.
(Note: Your tattoo artist will likely instruct you to avoid soaking in a bathtub or swimming for the first few weeks while your tattoo heals.)
Apply all-natural ointments frequently
Whether you’ve let your tattoo "dry heal" or you’ve chosen the aftercare ointment method, it’s important to keep your skin hydrated for a few weeks while your tattoo heals. Apply a natural balm morning, evening and periodically throughout the day – especially if you live in a dry climate.
The best natural tattoo balms contain simple, skin-healing ingredients, like unrefined oils and shea butter, and are free of harsh, artificial ingredients like fragrances, dyes, parabens, petrolatum, GMOs and synthetics.
Our top picks for natural tattoo aftercare balms, salves and ointments
A + D Tattoo Moisturizing Ointment
Made with beeswax, almond oil and pro-vitamin B5, this ointment is hypoallergenic and helps to keep skin hydrated and breathable. There are zero fragrances, dyes or preservatives, meaning all-natural healing from nature’s best.
Badger Tattoo Balm
This 100% certified organic balm is packed with skin-nourishing ingredients without any fragrances, dyes, parabens, petrolatum, GMOs or synthetics. It’s lightweight, non-greasy and will keep your tattoo looking – and feeling! – its best.
Natural Path Silver Wings Silver Herbal Ointment
Made from quality oils including olive, sesame and oregano, this herbal ointment is full of hydrating, healing ingredients made especially for healing skin. It’s also great for keeping skin moisturized after your tattoo has healed.
Resist picking and scratching
The last thing you want to do is irritate healing skin after getting a tattoo. Though it will likely get itchy in the first few weeks, do not scratch your skin or pick off scabs.
Not only will this potentially affect the look of your tattoo, but it can further damage skin and introduce bacteria into your healing wound. To alleviate itchiness, grab your all-natural balm and gently apply it to the area with your fingertips – not your nails.
Avoid the sun
The sun’s UV rays can cause a lot of damage to skin. While your tattoo is healing, it’s best to protect it from the sun entirely by wearing full-coverage, loose-fitting clothing. Once your tattoo is fully healed, you should always apply sunscreen with a high SPF over your tattoo to keep ink vibrant.
Wear loose-fitting clothing
Loose-fitting clothing will not only protect your tattoo from the sun’s harmful rays, but it will also allow your skin some breathability throughout the healing process. Tight-fitting clothing can irritate healing skin and also rub at the fresh ink from your tattoo – which can blur the definition and dull the color.
Drink your H20
Drinking enough water is critical for keeping your skin healthy and hydrated from the inside out. As the largest organ of the body, skin needs water to function properly -- including healing and maintaining flexibility. Be sure to sip water throughout the day to stay properly nourished and help your skin heal to the best of its abilities.