No one makes tattoos look quite as good as Zoé« Kravitz. If you just got inked, know this: skincare looks a little different when you’re caring for tattoos. The inked area is sensitive for a week or two afterward, and will need extra protection for up to several months if you want them to stay sharp and vibrant. Tattoos are an investment and they last a lifetime — so treating them right, from day one, is a wise move. Take heed of these skincare pointers for new and old tattoos.
Hours After Getting Inked
The artist will cover the area in saran wrap and tape and tell you to leave it for three to four hours. Leave it on. The area is technically a wound, and the plastic will act as a barrier for bacteria and other antibodies. When you do remove it, wash the area with a mild soap and warm water.
It may not be glamorous, but Dial Gold Antibacterial Hand Soap is often recommended by peeps with tattoos as it’s mild and fragrance-free. It’ll help keep the area clear of infection and wash off any sweat and scabbing residue. Skip the loofah — just wash with your hand, rinse well, and then pat dry.
An optional post-wash option in the first few days is to apply a light layer of ointment like Aquaphor or A+D Original Ointment. These form a protective barrier over the skin and help seal out irritating wetness. A+D Ointment also contains vitamins A and D, which helps heal chafed skin. If you do use an ointment, use it for only a few days before switching to a regular unscented lotion.
Up to two weeks afterward
Continue to wash your tattoo daily to make sure it stays clean, and follow up with a scent-free lotion. Try Lubriderm Daily Moisture Lotion. This non-greasy, alcohol-free moisturizer is a go-to for new tattoos. Use it twice or more daily. If your tattoo is near a joint, or a place where your skin stretches regularly when you move, err on the side of moisturizing more.
Two weeks to one month after
Continue to moisturize the area after the shower as you would normally after bathing. Over the years, skin tends to lose its natural moisture, so keeping it well-hydrated from the get-go will help keep colours bright. In addition, avoid: submerging the area in water for at least 10 days (keep bathing limited to quicker showers); wearing dirty clothes (sweaty fabrics rubbing on it regularly can hinder healing and even cause infection); and picking scabs. Scabbing is normal and a sign that your tattoo is healing properly.
One biggie: Avoid tanning beds or too much sun exposure during the first month, as this can cause some inks to fade. If you must expose your tattoo to the sun, apply a sunscreen for sensitive skin that has at least an SPF 15, and reapply every two hours that you’re in the sun. Try Neutrogena’s Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50.
This hypoallergenic lotion is made for super-sensitive skin, and is infused with anti-irritants and even some antioxidants. Its active ingredients (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) are some of the most gentle you’ll find in the realm of sunscreens.
Inevitably, your tattoo will lighten after it’s fully healed. This just means the layers of skin are growing back over the ink and accepting it. But to keep the glowing pigments close to the surface for as long as possible, use a gentle exfoliant with alpha hydroxy acids, such as Uriage Eau Thermal Gentle Exfoliating Gel.
This 2-in-1 body scrub and cleanser caters to sensitive skin with a hypoallergenic, soap-free base and and hibiscus flower AHAs. It’s also got exfoliating micro-scrubbers to help gently remove dead cells and stimulate cellular growth so skin stays bright over time.