How to Keep Tattooed Skin Healthy

Tattoos are more popular than ever right now, with up to 40% of people under 35 having at least one (and 36% of those 36-54)—and a similar number then wondering how to keep tattooed skin healthy.

One important tip we’ve heard from many reputable artists is that you’ll get the best results when your skin is healthy to begin with! 

So, moisturize regularly for a few weeks before your tattoo. In the days before your appointment, be sure to drink plenty of water (and avoid drinking dehydrating alcoholic and caffeinated beverages). Arrive at your appointment with a clean skin surface. And of course, choose a reputable artist with a good reputation, and clean studio and equipment. 

Here are more things to know about keeping your tattooed skin healthy: 

The main concerns to ask your artist and doctor about (Before):

  • Allergies—this would be to ingredients in the inks. Some reds appear to be the most likely to cause a reaction, but if you are allergy prone, the risks are higher no matter which colors you use. 
    • As tattooing has increased in popularity, one of the developing areas of inquiry is what actually IS in tattoo ink. Believe it or not, there are few regulations or guidelines about what is or can be included—and sometimes even the manufacturers are unsure. 
    • What they do know is that tattoo ink ends up in a variety of different glands and organs; it doesn’t just stay put in the skin cells (which, of course, constantly shed anyway—your whole skin surface is replaced roughly every month—constantly pushing new cells to the surface).
  • Infections from bacteria or a virus—either from some getting under your skin during the tattooing, or while your skin is healing. (If your wound becomes red, hot, inflamed, has pus, or you have a fever… these should prompt a call to your doctor.)
  • Hepatitis B, C or HIV—which can occur if the equipment is not cleaned properly and residual blood from an infected person is transferred to your blood during the tattooing process. 
    • You may not know it, but because their work puts them (and you) in contact with blood and potential blood borne pathogens, tattoo artists must be certified by OSHA. This gives them guidelines for how to keep their equipment and studios clean, and you, protected!
  • Keloids—not harmful, but these are bumps that can develop around th tattoo site, caused by scar tissue.

How to Keep Tattooed Skin Healthy (During & After)

To help maintain skin health at the tattoo site, you’ll want to give it similar care to any open wound… plus a few extra steps over a longer period:

  • Keep the area clean—wash with antibacterial soap for the first 2 weeks, then your regular gentle soap. Pat dry, and keep covered until it’s fully healed. This will also help prevent you from scratching the scabs off, which can increase chances of infection!
  • Moisturize the area—once the wound has closed, keep the skin conditioned by moisturizing twice a day—keep the care up for 6 months, at least. Choose something that’s completely fragrance free. An ointment or thick cream are your best choices.
  • Use a high SPF sunscreen, always—and not just because of the protection from cancer-causing rays; the inks in your tattoo can be prone to fading in UV light., so it’s good for your art too!   
  • Natural, nourishing oils—consider applying a light coating of a natural oil each night, like Vitamin E oil (which may help scars be less apparent) or Tea Tree Oil (not just a good moisturizer, but also a plus because of its antibacterial properties).

Hopefully you will have started a healthy skin ritual like our Joy to the Skin Collection even before your tattooing, but if not, now is the ideal time to begin one! Caring for your skin will not only help your body’s protective organ withstand infections, it will help your fine art show at its best for years to come.