How Long Should You Wait To Shower After Getting A New Tattoo?

You strut out of the tattoo shop with your beautiful, brand-new ink. After a long few hours sitting in the tattoo chair, you're feeling like you need a shower. But then you think to yourself, "Should I be showering with this new tattoo?" No, not quite yet! When your skin is freshly tattooed, it's super sensitive and needs time to begin the healing process. Showering too soon, according to Stories and Ink, can increase the chances of infection, irritate your skin, and affect the healing process. 

Caring for a new tattoo is essential, and you want to take the right steps so that your tattoo can heal and look as beautiful as you intended it to. This is why it's important to listen to the aftercare instructions your tattoo artist gives you at the end of the appointment. If it's your first time getting a tattoo, we have some advice about when it's safe to hop in the shower with your ink. And don't worry — it's not going to wash away when you get it wet. You just need to take a few precautions.

Wait at least 24 hours before showering

According to tattoo experts at Stories and Ink, it's best to wait at least 24 hours before showering with your new tattoo. Doing so gives your skin enough time to start the healing process and reduce the risk of infection. This is a general rule of thumb, but you should listen to any specific instructions your tattoo artist gives you when it comes to aftercare. They know the right steps to ensure that your tattoo will heal properly and look vibrant.

Something to think about is the type of wrapping your tattoo artist gave you when they finished the tattoo. Many artists will wrap the ink with plastic film wrap, or becoming increasingly popular, a Saniderm bandage, which is a medical-grade and waterproof adhesive that tightly seals the tattoo and promotes healthy healing. The main difference between these wrappings is that you can shower with the Saniderm on, but in either case, it's important to leave the wrap on the tattoo for at least 24 hours before bathing your newly tattooed skin.

If you're given a Saniderm, it's actually helpful to take the bandage off in the shower to loosen the adhesive. Then, you can safely clean your tattoo. With this bandage, your artist may give you another one to reapply after the first shower, and this one can be worn for three to six days, even in the shower.

Showering with your new tattoo

Before you step into the shower with your fresh, uncovered tattoo, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, use lukewarm water rather than hot. As nice as a hot shower sounds, this is not only painful but it also increases blood flow to the area, causing bleeding, per Stories and Ink. Secondly, keep your tattoo away from the direct stream of running water in the shower. It's not a big deal if this happens for a quick second, but the tattoo shouldn't be fully submerged or left under running water for a long period of time. Experts at Stories and Ink explain that this can cause irritation and disrupt the tattoo's healing process.

Last but not least, when cleansing your tattoo, use an unscented antibacterial soap. Scented soaps may contain chemicals that irritate and dry the skin, leading to scars and a slower healing time, per Healthline. Gently wash the area with your hand only; washcloths or loofahs are rough on the skin and carry bacteria that can increase your chances of infection. To dry the tattoo, either air dry or pat gently with a fresh towel or paper towel. Don't forget to moisturize, too. Once your tattoo has fully healed, you can return to your typical showering routine.