Tattoo Aftercare


Congratulations on your new tattoo!!! Now that the hard parts over; getting your new tattoo, comes the annoying part... healing the tattoo.

The next two weeks are arguably the most important part of the tattoo process. I say that because I want to stress the fact: THE WAY YOU CARE FOR YOUR NEW TATTOO OVER THE NEXT TWO WEEKS WILL AFFECT THE WAY IT LOOKS FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!

By following these simple steps below, you will greatly enhance the long-term appearance of your tattoo. However, if you are negligent, and don't follow these instructions, we assume no responsibility and we will not be able to honor any guarantee. (You will be responsible for any and all touch-up costs associated with fixing it; that is if touch-up is even possible.)

If you have elected to use transparent healing barrier film: Saniderm, SecondSkin, TegaDerm, or similar product, Congratulations; These products take most of the guess-work out of healing your tattoo and can speed the healing process significantly giving superior final results. Please refer to the manufacturer website, listed on the back of the product for information and techniques. If you have problems or questions, you can contact your artist for assistance.

If you are curious about using these products, talk to your artist before or during your tattoo session. (They must be used at the time the tattoo is completed, and be left on for 5-7 days to be affective. (You can remove the original piece of Transparent Barrier Film after 24-48 hours, then wash the tattoo and use the second piece within 5-10 minutes, making sure the area remains clean before applying the second piece. Leave this second piece on for an additional 5-7 days or as recommended by the manufacturer or your artist.)

Please read the following aftercare instructions all the way through, follow these instructions as best you can, and refer back to this page as necessary during the healing process, which usually takes between 7-14 days.

Certain instructions below do not apply to those using Saniderm, SecondSkin, Tegaderm, or similar transparent healing barrier film.
(Please refer to the specific manufacturer of the product or their website for proper usage instructions.)
You can also contact your artist with questions at any time.

  1. Remove the bandage/wrappings in no less than 1 hour, but no more than 5 hours and gently wash the entire area with a mild anti-bacterial soap and warm water. Thoroughly massage the tattoo using only your hands with lathered soap and warm water to remove any dried blood and plasma.

    - Do not scrub. Do not re-bandage. AVOID EXTREMELY HOT WATER WHEN WASHING; Warm water works just fine.

  2. Rinse thoroughly, gently pat dry with a clean paper towel, then allow a few minutes "breathing time" to air dry completely.

  3. Apply mild unscented lotion* VERY LIGHTLY and THIN as needed, Usually 2-4 times a day, with clean hands until fully healed. Always wash hands before applying lotion or touching the healing tattoo.

    - Applying lotion with un-clean hands is the #1 cause of infection. Infection, even a minor infection, can not only harm you, it can destroy a healing tattoo. Germs are everywhere!

    - Always wash hands just prior to any contact. Otherwise these germs will enter the open skin in and around the tattoo. Not all germs are bad, but the bad ones can destroy your tattoo.)

  4. Wash, dry, then moisturize your tattoo 2-3 times a day with the same process as above for about 3 days.

    (Showering counts as one of those cleanings.) if u chose to use a petroleum based moisturizer, it is best to limit it to the first 3 days. After you stop washing the tattoo daily, switch to a lotion as mentioned above.

  5. Keep your new tattoo dry and clean until it's healed. Do not touch, pick, scratch or otherwise irritate the tattoo.

    (Wear clean, lose, unbinding clothing as it can rub or irritate the healing tattoo, and ultimately lead to complications or infection.)

  6. ABSOLUTELY NO soaking the tattoo in baths, hot tubs, lakes, rivers, oceans, pools or any other body of water until fully healed.
    Or at very least until the tattoo has finished flaking and only new skin remains.

    (Aside from using lotion to moisturize as necessary, keep your tattoo as dry as possible until fully healed. Showering is fine but remember to keep the tattoo out of the water as much as possible while showering to avoid complications. Use caution when showering with tattoos on lower extremities (feet, ankles, and lower legs). Extremely dirty water tends to collect before draining; this water is full of bacteria and filth from your now clean body and will lead to complications. Remember to gently pat, never rub, the tattoo dry.)

  7. Keep the new tattoo out of the sun for at least 4 weeks. After that period use the highest sun block you can to keep your tattoo from fading.

    - Any and all tanning of the tattoo will cause fading and will void any touch-up guarantee. (Tanning beds included.)

    - Do yourself a favor and use sun block over your tattoo. After your tattoo has healed, your skin will protect the pigment from limited UV exposure. A good rule is never allow yourself to become sun-burned or tanned over your tattoo. While damage to the pigment is rarely immediate, you will notice a significant difference after a few years of sun damage to the tattoo. In addition, the tattoo tends to attract the sun's rays (similar to dark colored fabric in the sun) the Sun's UV rays not only damages the pigment that makes up your tattoo, this will lead to damage to the areas of skin over the tattoo much quicker than other areas of your exposed skin.

  8. DO NOT listen to ANYONE but your tattoo artist about the aftercare of your tattoo! Just because something works for someone you know, does not mean it will work for you, or this tattoo. (The only exception would be a licensed medical professional)

    - If you would like to try an alternative method of healing, consult your artist first.

    - If you have questions, you can always contact your artist, or another artist at the shop. Your artist knows their tattoos very well, they know the particulars of how they heal, and can give you the best advice on healing a tattoo that they gave you. Certain pigments and techniques used by your artist may require special care. Taking the advice of someone other than the artist that did the tattoo could have adverse affects.)

  9. Yes, they are going to be there forever, yes they hurt, yes they make you tough, and no they don’t make you a bad person.

  10. Contact your artist or another artist at Aloha Salt Lake Tattoos immediately if you have ANY questions, complications, or concerns.
    (Your artist is here to help. Please don't just assume its normal or correct! Contact us straight away with any questions or concerns during the healing process. Remember, you only get one shot at this; Do it right.)


  • PLEASE NOTE: There are many lotions and/or ointments that will work for healing your tattoo. You will want to use a lotion that your body is familiar with if possible. You want a lotion that is unscented (fragrance free), and contains minimal, or preferably no alcohol. Brands like Curell, Eucerin, Lubraderm, or Noxema (lotion, not cleanser) typically work great. Ideally a new bottle that is travel sized for easy access while out of your home. If you chose to use a petroleum based moisturizer such as: Vitimin A&D ointment, Bacitracin, or Aquaphor -- Please apply it extremely thin (so thin that your clothes won't even stick to it), and only use it for the first 3 days. After that, switch to a regular lotion mentioned above. Avoid Triple Antibiotic Ointment (ie...Neosporin or Polysporin). While there are certain antibiotic products that can help a healing tattoo for the first few days if used properly, (Namely Bacitracin); Neosporin (and any other triple antibiotic ointment) is designed to heal a wound not a tattoo, and often pulls ink/pigment out of your healing tattoo -- Especially if used improperly. It is important to understand that healing a tattoo must be treated differently than healing a wound. Your body's job is to remove debris embedded in a wound to help prevent infection. But with a tattoo, you want this "debris" in the form of tattoo inks and pigments to remain in tact where it was so carefully placed.


Once something goes wrong with the healing process, it is nearly impossible to stop or reverse most complications. If the tattoo scabs, then something went wrong and the tattoo got infected during the healing process. (Usually from bacteria transferred from unclean hands, lotion, clothing, water, or numerous other un-clean sources coming into contact with the healing tattoo.) It is best to let any scabs that form dry out completely... stop using the moisturizer then let any scab fall off completely naturally. Picking, rubbing or itching any scab on the tattoo will often pull the underlying ink out, along with the healing skin. This often results in bleeding, worse scabbing, and scarring, which is usually impossible to fix. Ultimately leaving you with something less than ideal on your body permanently.

While some bruising and swelling is common, especially in fleshy areas, sensitive areas, or lower extremities for the first few days, swelling that continues to increase for 3-4 days, develops a red outer edge around the tattooed area (that continues to expand), and feels warm, or hot to the touch could be a sign of infection. It is extremely rare to get an infection from actually getting the tattoo. 99.999% of infected tattoos we have seen have come from simple neglect while caring for the tattoo; by either not washing anything that comes into contact with the new tattoo, exposing it to numerous germs; or just ignoring your responsibilities for aftercare and hoping it just heals on its own (we can't stress enough: ALWAYS WASH YOUR HANDS IMMEDIATELY BEFORE TOUCHING IT, OR APPLYING ANY LOTION OR OINTMENT, EVEN IF YOU THINK IT'S HEALED ENOUGH). That being said, if it is infected, in whole, or just smaller areas, there is nothing I can do for you....  Could be time to consult your healthcare provider depending on the severity of the infection and how your body is reacting to it. But, keep in mind, most doctors rarely see infected tattoos, and their job is to heal you as quickly as possible as well as scare you so you don't make foolish mistakes again. Often, their advise and prescriptions, along with the infection, destroy the tattoo during the process of healing. So do yourself a favor, just follow these instructions and all will be well.

You only have one shot at this. Do not over-do it! Simply follow the instructions above, no more-no less and you will have a beautiful tattoo that you will enjoy for the rest of your life.

Again, if you have any questions, concerns or complications, contact your artist as soon as possible. While we are not a doctors, and cannot offer any actual medical advice, we have seen nearly every complication that can possibly arise from a healing tattoo. While certain complications can be common, as long as you follow the instructions provided, most complications will be avoided and it is highly unlikely that you will have any problems.

Healing tips:

  • When your tattoo starts to itch, please don't scratch it. By doing so, you can easily damage the skin, causing infection, or at very least, pull pigment out of the fresh tattoo. Instead, with clean hands, gently slap the itching area with minimal force. This usually eliminates the itching sensation. Sometimes you will have to slap it a few times. You can itch around the tattoo, but you run the risk of damaging the edges. If it gets bad, try a lotion with lidocaine or consult your healthcare provider.

  • Wear clean dark colored clothing over your tattoo the first few nights. It is a normal part of the healing process for some pigment and a plasma/blood mixture to seep out of a fresh healing tattoo for the first few days. This will ruin your sheets and or lighter colored fabrics. It does not wash-out.

  • Tylenol, Ibuprofen or similar NSAD can help with the initial pain and swelling. Some pain and swelling is normal, especially in the lower extremities. Often taking Tylenol, Aleve, Ibuprofen, or other NSADs can help relieve some symptoms. If your tattoo continues to swell and/or throbs when standing up or exerting yourself, it could be a sign of infection. If symptoms don't improve over the first couple of days, you should contact your artist or medical professional for advice.

Comment on your experience and/or post pics of your tattoo..

Your comments  and photos help others make informed decisions about getting a tattoo. And we really appreciate the feedback.

Simply click one of the social media icons at the bottom of the page to leave a review there.
We also appreciate reviews on Yelp and Google.

You can also leave your comments below so they can be displayed on this site.

Name *
Tell us what you liked, or disliked about your tattoo experience, the shop, the artist you worked with, and anything else that you would like others to know when they are choosing to come to Aloha Salt Lake