A tattoo is more than just a piece of art; it's also a medical procedure that uses a needle to insert the ink under the skin. This leaves the area vulnerable to scarring and infections, so proper aftercare is crucial. While your tattoo artist will give you specific instructions on how to care for the new ink, keep this guide in mind as well. 

How to Care for a New Tattoo

1. Wash With an Antibacterial Soap

The artist will recommend cleaning the tattoo several hours after the appointment. Wash your hands with soap and water before touching the area. Remove the bandage and gently wash the tattoo with warm water and unscented antibacterial soap.

Only use your hands to clean it and avoid using a sponge or brush, as this can be too rough on the skin. Gently pat the skin dry with a soft cloth. You can keep the bandage off to let the skin breathe. 

2. Apply Ointment

tattoo artist

After letting the tattoo dry for at least 10 minutes, apply a thin layer of aftercare ointment. The tattoo artist may give you some or recommend a specific brand. Only use enough to cover the entire tattoo. If the lotion is applied too thickly, it can interfere with the healing process. 

Depending on the size and location of the tattoo, the artist may recommend that you reapply a new bandage or leave the ink exposed. It's generally advised to repeat the cleaning process three to five times per day until the area is fully healed. 

3. Use SPF

Avoid prolonged sun exposure for at least two weeks after receiving the new ink. Because the tattoo is a skin wound, it's at a higher risk of being burned in the sun. 

If you must be in the sun, cover up with loose-fitting clothing. Apply sunscreen with a high SPF to any areas of the skin that may be exposed. Tattoo ink is susceptible to fading in sunlight no matter how old it is, so it’s smart to use a high SPF whenever you're outside in the future.


If you’re looking for a reputable tattoo artist, head to Elite Custom Tattoo Studio in Lakewood, CO. This shop is led by Louis King, who has been tattooing for over 14 years. His team will bring any piece of art you have in mind to life with their creativity and exceptional talent. Visit their website to learn more about the artists, or call (303) 986-3487 to set up a consultation.