You just took the leap and got yourself your first piece of permanent art: a brand new tattoo. But now you’re having a bit of a panic attack when it comes to your daily shower. The internet said not to soak it, your tattoo artist said to let it breathe, and you’re just unsure how you’re going to get your wash in while simultaneously protecting your ink.
Don’t panic: we’ve got you covered. We’ll lay out all the advice you need for showering with your new tattoo.
Table of Contents (clickable)
How Long After Getting a Tattoo Can You Shower?
The most important thing we want to lay out at the very beginning of this article is that if you’re a bath person, sorry, but you’re going to have to make the switch for at least a month after getting your new tattoo.
Under no circumstances should a tattoo be submerged in water, like that of a bath, hot tub, or pool. You not only risk exposing your wound to bacteria in the water, but it also prevents your ink from healing properly which could permanently distort or fade your tattoo, or cause abnormal scarring or infection.
Once you’ve swallowed the pill and made the switch to showers, you’ll be happy to know that you can take your first one with your new tattoo after around twenty-four hours. The reason you want to wait a little is that you don’t want to cause distress to your tattoo during its most vulnerable period. Prior to your first shower, your tattoo should be washed with antibacterial cleanser four to six hours after your tattoo was wrapped.
If your tattoo artist gives you differing advice regarding how long your tattoo should stay wrapped and when you can first shower, it’s best to adhere to their recommendations as they know how to preserve and heal their art.
How to Shower With a New Tattoo Correctly
Because your tattoo is technically an abrasion or open wound, there are ways to shower with your tattoo carefully to ensure you don’t damage or further irritate the skin injury.
1. Set Water Temperature and Power
Did you know that very warm or hot showers are actually quite bad for your skin? It can cause severe dehydration, irritation, or peeling similar to sunburns. For a brand new tattoo, you need to be even more cautious.
Showers should be cool or lukewarm in temperature, because on an open wound like a new tattoo, we guarantee that anything hotter and you’ll feel the burn. You should also be sure that the intensity of the showerhead is not angled directly onto your new tattoo which could be extremely painful and will negatively impact the healing process.
2. Wet the Tattoo
During the entire shower, it’s best that the showerhead is angled in a way where water may trickle onto your tattoo but is not directly hitting it or saturating it with water. For example, if your tattoo is located somewhere like your chest, put your back to the showerhead. If your tattoo is on your arm, submerge the rest of your body under the shower but try and keep your arm out of it.
When preparing to wash your tattoo, you should cup the water with your hand and wet the area in that manner.
3. Gently Clean the Tattoo
After wetting your tattoo, use antibacterial soap to thoroughly cleanse your tattoo, and rid it of any plasma, blood, or ink that is weeping. Once you’ve scrubbed your tattoo gently enough to remove all the excess material building up over your wound, use your cupped hand to put fresh water over the area and ensure it is clear of all soap remnants.
Put aside your regular body wash and bars of homemade soap when washing your new tattoo, and select a cleaner that is:
- Fragrance free
- Contains natural and antibacterial ingredients
- Has moisturizing properties
4. Quickly Exit the Shower
When you have a new tattoo, it’s best not to linger and spend too much time in the shower. Extended time under water can lead to dehydration which increases the irritation of a new tattoo, and you don’t want to risk exposing your tattoo to bacteria, or more product, or subject it to more water than it needs.
We recommend ten minute showers, if possible, starting with washing your hair and working your way to your tattoo. That way if any product trickles down onto your tattoo, it can be washed away before you exit your shower.
5. Dry Your Tattoo
When you exit your shower, the first thing you dry should be your new tattoo. You should only dry your tattoo with one of two things:
- High-quality paper towel that does not leave behind any paper product remnants, or;
- A fresh towel that has never been used and doesn’t put your tattoo at risk for bacteria exposure, and doesn’t leave behind towel fibers.
You should always pat your new tattoo dry rather than rub it, as rubbing it can pull off important scabs that may have formed and may also cause further irritation to your tattoo.
While you should wash your tattoo by hand two to three times a day, you should limit showers with a new tattoo to once a day.
6. Moisturize the Area
After day three, your tattoo will stop weeping excess blood, ink, and plasma from the tattoo, which means it is ready for you to begin to use moisturizer. You can apply moisturizer to your tattoo after you’ve completed all the other steps, one to five, for a safe shower.
You can apply lotion or cream to your tattoo, but ensure that your tattoo is fully dry prior to application, and that the moisturizer is fully absorbed by the skin (you should not see any product left over). This ensures that your tattoo is allowed to breathe in order to heal properly.
- If you intend to take a longer shower or know you will be using a product which may irritate the tattoo, you can put a layer of Vaseline on your ink to protect it. You must remember to completely remove the Vaseline and wash the tattoo as usual before finishing your shower. Do not leave Vaseline on a healing tattoo as it does not allow it to breathe.
- Do not use washcloths or loofahs on a new tattoo as this can expose your tattoo to bacteria, irritate your tattoo, or scrub off important skin cells during the healing process. Only wash your tattoo with hand-to-skin.
- Do not shave on or near the tattooed area. We know it might feel a little irritating if that area was shaved prior to getting your tattoo, but you should definitely not put any razor onto an open wound. Wait until it fully heals (around one month or more) before attempting to shave the area.
- Introduce a proper aftercare regimen when you get a new tattoo to ensure optimal healing. Here’s our piece on the Best Tattoo Aftercare Products - Our Favorites Reviewed.
Our Final Thoughts
Everyone needs to shower and getting a new tattoo shouldn’t put your life or your hygiene on hold! You simply need to implement a few changes in your showering routine to ensure your tattoo stays healthy and heals safely. After week three, everything should go back to normal and you can take those long, warm showers again, without worrying about your fresh ink the whole time.