Expert Advice On How To Really Care For Your New Tattoo

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So, you finally did it. You took the plunge and got a piece of art tattooed. The hardest parts — picking your design, narrowing down an artist, sitting through the discomfort of the needle — are over, but now it's time to focus on the healing process. A tattoo is a permanent fixture on your skin, so it's incredibly important to allow it to heal properly and guarantee you're taking the right steps to ensure you end up with the best results possible. 


That's why we spoke to Numbed Ink, one of the top tattoo care brands on the market. The brand's popular numbing cream helps reduce pain while sitting through larger pieces, but its line of aftercare products can help you once you're out of the parlor, too. It's safe to say this brand knows a thing or two about the tattoo healing process, so keep reading for its top tips to ensure you're left with a crisp, clean, and vibrant final result with as little pain as possible.

Pick the right soap

It might be tempting to just jump back to using your regular, scented body wash or bar soap after getting inked, but according to the experts at Numbed Ink, this isn't the best option. Instead, stick to something liquid that is fragrance-free, like Dial's Antibacterial Liquid Hand Soap or Dr. Bronners' Pure-Castile Liquid Soap. These formulas are designed to be sensitive and don't contain anything that could further aggravate your already-irritated skin, but they still allow you to wash away any harmful bacteria that could cause an infection.


Washing in the shower is perfectly fine, but exfoliating with a loofah or washcloth is off-limits. Instead, gently rinse with lukewarm water and your soap. Once you're done, dry off the area with a paper towel or clean cloth; just make sure to stay away from anything that's already been used. "Bathroom hand towels are used by multiple people, meaning they're guaranteed to be harboring bacteria," Numbed Ink explains.

Moisturize often

A few days after getting your new tattoo, you'll likely be faced with the most annoying part of the healing process: the itchiness and peeling. Thankfully, a bit of lotion can help mitigate these symptoms and make you less likely to accidentally scratch your new ink. The same rules for picking a soap apply to choosing the best moisturizer. Stay away from ones with fragrance, and instead stick with cream products and apply them with clean hands. Many people want to treat a tattoo like a regular wound and allow it to dry out, but the experts at Numbed Ink recommend the opposite approach.


"But when it comes to tattoos, drying out is the worst thing you can do for it. Apply lotion two to three times per day to help your skin regenerate more quickly, reduce irritation, and create a healthy healing environment for your skin cells," Numbed Ink explains. By choosing the correct moisturizer, you'll cut down your healing times and avoid having to suffer through itchy skin.

Stay out of the pool and the sun

Scheduling your tattoo appointment during the winter is the best way to avoid the temptation of summertime activities, but if you find yourself with a full schedule and fresh ink, Numbed Ink says it's incredibly important to be cautious. "Everyone wants to show off their new chest or back tattoo as soon as they get it, especially in the summer. But if your friends are planning a pool or beach day, you better stay out of the water and keep your shirt on," the brand says.


If you do end up coming into contact with water, make sure to clean, dry, and moisturize it immediately to reduce your risk of infection. After all, water from a pool or ocean is a recipe for trouble. When it comes to sunshine, pile on the sunscreen and make sure you're covered with protective clothing. Freshly-tattooed skin is sensitive, and just a small amount of sun exposure can cause bleeding ink and blistering, even if you're someone that doesn't normally burn easily.

Sleep soundly at night

The biggest part of healing your new tattoo is allowing your body to work its magic, and sleep is an essential component of that. Numbed Ink says you should focus on getting a full night of high-quality rest to help your body along in its process, but, according to Numbed Ink, there are a few other considerations to keep in mind if you want to guarantee less irritation and risk of infection while you're in bed.


"Keep pets off the bed for the first few nights (increased risk of infection), no cuddling (trapped heat and friction), clean your sheets (and be prepared to wash them daily), and go light on the blankets to that your skin can breathe," the brand says. Wherever your tattoo is, it's a good idea to sleep it facing up, too, to cut back on heat and friction. If you frequently toss and turn throughout the night, try sleeping with a pillow between your knees or on either side of you, as it will act as a bit of a barrier to discourage you from moving around.

Avoid tight clothing

Your favorite workout set might be your go-to everyday outfit, but Numbed Ink says it's best to avoid tight-fitting clothing for a few days while your new tattoo heals. "Tight clothing traps heat and rubs against your tattoo, wearing it down with friction," the tattoo care brand says. Instead, opt for something loose and breathable in the healing area. Natural fabrics like cotton and linen are good choices for the time being, but stay away from options like spandex, polyester, and denim.


If you just got a rib tattoo, for example, there's no reason to avoid tight jeans, but swap the bra for a baggy tee or cotton undershirt for a few days. If you're going to be out in the sun, it's still a good choice to cover the area, just stay away from anything too restrictive that can cause further irritation. Stick to these tips, and your tattoo will look just as good healed as it did when it was fresh — no bleeding, gaps, or fading in sight.