So, you finally got that new ink you’ve been wanting for ages, and you know proper aftercare is key to avoid infection, fading, and scarring. But what about taking a shower? Shower time with a new tattoo may seem daunting, but as long as you follow a few simple steps, you’ll be todo bueno. Here’s what you need to know about showering after a tattoo so you can make the most of your body art investment.
How Soon After a Tattoo Can You Take a Shower?
Always follow the advice given by your tattoo artist. Your artist will cover your new tat in one of two ways, and the type of covering determines the timestamp you have for showering.
Plastic or Regular Bandage: You can shower anywhere between one hour and 24 hours after the initial ink application, depending on the size and location of your new ink. A plastic dressing may suffocate the tattoo, so remove it as soon as you arrive home after your tattoo session, or follow the instructions given by your artist.
Waterproof or Medical-Grade Bandage: If you have a waterproof or medical-grade bandage, lucky you! You may shower at any time, but make sure to keep the dressing on for the time instructed by your artist.
Do You Have To Change the Way You Shower?
We hate to break it to you, but there are some dos and don’ts when it comes to showering with your new body art. Follow these tips to ensure tattoo-safe showering:
Don’t submerge your new art in water. Your newly tattooed skin is delicate, so avoid submerging it, and do not allow the shower water to run directly over the tattoo for long periods. However, if it gets just a little wet, don’t sweat it.
Don’t use washcloths, sponges, or loofas on the tattoo site. These items may harbor bacteria that cause infection, so it is muy importante to avoid them.
Don’t shave that tattoo. You’d never shave an open wound, so don’t shave over your fresh, new tattoo, either. Be patient, allow the tattoo to heal, and save the razor for later. In the meantime, let it grow ~
Do use gentle, fragrance-free soap to clean the tattoo site. Products containing irritants such as fragrance and alcohol will irritate the skin, causing dryness, slower heal time, and possible scarring.
Do keep your showers short and the water lukewarm. A quicker shower lessens the chance of getting the ink wet, reducing your time in the shower. Hot water is gonna HURT when it touches a fresh tattoo, so trust us, don’t use hot water.
How Should I Take Care of a Tattoo After a Shower?
After taking a shower, gently pat the tattoo dry with a clean, dry, lint-free towel or paper towel. Next, if you practice the wet healing method, apply a thin layer of unscented, alcohol-free moisturizing ointment. The ointment provides a layer of protection between your new tattoo and environmental elements, plus it moisturizes your skin to prevent dryness and itching.
Can You Take a Bath After Getting a Tattoo?
Nope. Don’t do it. Never submerge a new tattoo underwater. Your tattoo is an open wound, so soaking it in water exposes the open wound to bacteria, increasing the chance of infection—yikes! Wait at least two weeks, or as long as your tattoo artist recommends, before exposing it to swimming pools, hot tubs, baths, pools, saunas, and any other open water or moist environment. Also, avoid the gym for about a week after getting your new ink to prevent germs and bacteria from entering the site. The free weights will still be there when you head back.
Is My Tattoo Healed Yet?
Waiting for your tattoo to heal may feel like an eternity, but every hour counts when it comes to ensuring a healthy heal-time. Usually, two to three weeks is the time it takes for the outer layer of skin to feel and look healed, but it may take up to six months to recover fully. (Yes, really.) Following aftercare instructions precisely helps the tattoo heal more quickly than skipping a step or two. Always ask your artist for their recommendation on heal times and other essential tips, then make sure you use the right tattoo skincare products from strat to finish. 😉
What Are the More Serious Signs of a Tattoo Infection?
Let’s be real here—the last thing anyone wants is an infection. Of course, the first couple of days after getting your tattoo, the skin around it looks like it's been around the block a few times, but that’s normal. After about four days, we raise a red flag for these problematic tattoo signals:
Oozing or pus
Prolonged redness or discoloration
Swelling or bleeding
Hives or severe itching
If you experience any of these more severe symptoms after getting a new tattoo, see your healthcare professional as soon as possible and text your artist a photo of what’s going on.
Skin that is warm to the touch
Redness that extends from the tattoo
Sores or rash
What Are Some Tattoo Skincare Tips?
New tattoos are delicate, open wounds that need a lot of love during the first few weeks. But should you be caring for your skin even before getting the tattoo? Abso-freakin-lutely. Here’s a checklist of tips for maintaining your new ink, start to finish.
1. Pre-Game Your Epidermis
You’ve almost decided on an ink design—here’s what you need to do before the big day. The ink penetrates seamlessly on healthy skin rather than dry or unhealthy skin. Care for the skin on your body as you would your face. A quality skincare regimen looks like this:
Use gentle exfoliation to remove dead skin cells and create a smooth canvas for your ink.
Apply moisturizer for healthy, hydrated skin.
Wear sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s rays and sunburn.
Drink water—at least eight glasses per day to hydrate your skin from the inside out.
Rest up—getting an adequate amount of sleep each night (seven to nine hours per night) is crucial for your overall health, inside and out, and it supports a healthy complexion, too.
Doing all of the above can help you build and maintain healthy skin, and create a smooth, healthy epidermal canvas for your future ink application.
2. Bandage Rules
There’s a reason your artist covers your new ink in a bandage. Yes, we know you want to show that new tattoo off, but be patient, friend. That bandage protects the raw skin from being exposed to nasty bacteria, which may cause infection. Prevent this from occurring by leaving the bandage on for a minimum of two hours. One exception to the rule exists. If your tattoo artist covered your tattoo with a plastic bandage, remove it as soon as you get home. Plastic suffocates the ink and your skin, causing unfavorable conditions for your precious ink.
3. Don’t Scratch or Peel
Peeling and mild scabbing can occur as soon as a few days after the initial tattoo procedure, and this is normal. Just don’t peel, pick, or prod the dry skin flakes, because doing so causes blurred outlines, ink discoloration, and possible scarring. Prevent yourself from being tempted to scratch by applying an alcohol-free ointment to moisturize the skin. Note: Never use Vaseline. Vaseline creates a barrier on the tattoo and doesn’t allow the skin to “breathe. “ This barrier traps bacteria and moisture underneath it, which may lead to infection.
4. Use Protection
Protect that new ink with an SPF of at least 30. The sun’s UV rays are devastating to new tattoos. Not only can these UV rays burn the skin on and around the wound site, but it is also very painful. SPF protects tattoos that are already healed, and protects them from color fade, too Keep your tattoo vibrant by wearing sunscreen daily. Wearing sunscreen is something that you should be doing regardless of whether you have a tattoo—or not.
5. Clean Carefully
Keep your new tat clean by gently massaging a fragrance-free, alcohol-free cleanser on the surface with your clean hand. The goal is to clean the area, remove bits of blood and plasma, and never flake the skin away from the tattoo. Rinse the soap away by filling a cup full of lukewarm water and pouring the water carefully over the tattoo. Dry it with a clean, dry lint-free towel or paper towel. Follow with a pearl-sized amount of Hush CBD Healing Balm, massaging it into the area to protect the tattoo.
Getting a new tattoo doesn’t mean you have to forfeit your daily shower sessions (unless you want to, but we recommend otherwise). There are a few things to be mindful of, but overall, showering isn’t detrimental to your ink. As long as you do not submerge your tattoo fully in water, you’re set. For more articles on everything tattoos, check out the HUSH blog. Sources: Tattoos & Permanent Makeup: Fact Sheet | FDA A Tattoo for You? Seven Key Questions to Consider | FDA Is Getting Your "Beauty Sleep" a Fairy Tale? | Sam Health Sunscreen FAQs | American Academy of Dermatology | American Academy of Dermatology