The Ultimate Guide to Organic Tattoo Aftercare + The Best Tattoo Cream

The Ultimate Guide to Organic Tattoo Aftercare + The Best Tattoo Cream

So you just got inked and you want your tattoo to remain as vibrant and sharp as it is today. We're here with all the step-by-step natural tattoo aftercare instructions + the tattoo balm that's changed many a tatted up life in its day. The magic really is in the maintaining.

A new tattoo is basically an open wound - it needs to be treated carefully to heal properly, remain vibrant, and last forever. That new ink causes injury to both the upper (epidermal) and middle (dermal) layers of skin and must be cared for just as diligently as a wound would be in order to prevent infection and ensure quick, scarless healing.

While your tattoo artist will share their aftercare instructions, if you want a little more detail on the day-by-day healing process, important dos and don'ts during aftercare, and our tips for the best tattoo aftercare lotion for your new body art, keep reading!

Proper Tattoo Aftercare - Step by Step Instructions

So you just got your first tattoo, or maybe it's number 143535 but it's been a while since the last one. Not to worry, our detailed aftercare instructions cover the day you got inked, years after that first tattoo, and everything in between.

tattoo aftercare instructions


This is the most important part of your tattoo aftercare, so listen up friends. First, ask your tattoo artist for written and detailed instructions. All tattoo artists have their own preferred processes for tattoo aftercare and will advise you on what works best for your specific ink.

Most tattoo artists will wrap your tattoo after inking their art. This can either be a bandage or a second skin. Much like you would wrap a wound, this dressing protects your fresh tattoo from dirt, sun, scrapes, and any other potential mishaps.

First day after your tattoo

Again, follow your artist's recommendations, but generally you'll want to keep your new tattoo wrapped for anywhere from 6 to 24 hours.

Your tattoo may release fluids, plasma, and excess ink during this stage - this is a process called 'weeping' and is normal, not to worry! If this extends beyond a week, check with your doctor as it could signal an infection.

Your new tattoo may also look a little red or swollen that first day or so. If this extends beyond 3 days, check with your tattoo artist to ensure everything is healing properly.

Avoid sleeping directly on your tattoo if you can - the less pressure on your fresh wound, the better.

Taking off the wrapping: how-to

First, wash your hands with a gentle and fragrance-free antibacterial soap. Then, carefully remove the tape and the wrapping. Don't tug or pull on the bandage - use lukewarm water to help slide it off it if gets stuck.

If your tattoo is bandaged with a second skin, this timeline will will vary slightly. Usually, you'll keep your second skin on for 3-5 days (refer to your artist's guidelines). To remove your second skin bandage: run it under warm water and stretch each side to remove (much like a band-aid.

In some cases, a tattoo artist will recommend replacing your first second skin with another second skin if you can't avoid exposure to contaminants or environmental conditions during the early healing stage. If this is the case, keep an eye on your tattoo underneath the bandage and remove it if it becomes clouded or obscured.

Once your second skin is removed, you can follow the rest of the aftercare instructions listed below!

Cleaning your tattoo

Using a gentle, fragrance-free antibacterial soap, wash your tattoo gently in circular motions to remove any excess ink, plasma or blood. Only clean with your fingers - no wash cloths of any kind.

Once you're clean, pat your skin dry with a soft towel - no rubbing. Let your tattoo air dry for about 15 minutes and then apply a thin layer of a healing tattoo ointment - it's important to keep hydration levels high while your tattoo heals.  

best tattoo lotion

A high-quality tattoo lotion will be crafted with anti-inflammatory and soothing ingredients that speed up the healing process. It's very important to read the ingredient labels on tattoo aftercare products - many are filled with harsh, irritating ingredients that can slow down your healing and exacerbate itching and scabbing.

Keep washing and moisturizing your fresh tattoo twice a day with a natural healing ointment like our Tattoo Aftercare Balm until it's completely healed. Healing time depends on the size and spot of your tattoo, but average healing time with our Tattoo Aftercare Balm is 7-10 days, whereas full recovery with traditional lotions can take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks.

Stage 1: Do's

Follow the advice of your tattoo artist carefully: instructions will vary from artist to artist and should be tailored to the specific placement, size, and type of tattoo you chose.

Wash the tattoo: wash twice daily in gentle circular motions and pat dry with a clean cloth or clean paper towel.

Moisture is your friend: apply a thin layer of tattoo cream after every wash.

Wear soft, loose clothing: tight clothing and itchy, abrasive fabrics can irritate your tattoo. Consider wearing women’s underwear made of 100% cotton or bamboo that's extra gentle on freshly inked skin, promoting a smoother recovery process.  Same for bras if your tattoo is within that region! 

Drink lots of water and get lots of sleep. A healthy, hydrated body heals faster!

Invest in a high-quality tattoo balm: Not all tattoo lotions are created equally. Look for a 100% natural tattoo balm like our Tattoo Aftercare Balm that will not only soothe and moisturize your new tattoo, but prevent infection, significantly speed up healing, soothe and prevent the itch, and even help with pain relief. 

Stage 1: Don'ts

Don't take off your bandage too quickly: keep your covering on for as long as your artist recommends.

Don't wash with hot water: hot water causes your pores to open and can allow bacteria in. Opt for lukewarm temps to keep your tattoo healthy and happy.

Don't soak in water: avoid baths, pools, hot tubs, and oceans while your tattoo is healing - chlorine, fresh water, and extended soaks can lead to infection and can disrupt your ink.

Try to stick to showering and if you can't resist a good soak in the tub, keep your tattoo out of the water. When showering, keep your tattoo away from the direct flow of water and turn your settings to a gentle flow rather than an intense super soaker spray.

Say no to saunas: as deliciously restorative as the sauna feels, it can interfere with your tattoo healing. Stay away from the sauna and any excessively sweaty activities until your tattoo is fully healed.

Don't re-cover it: once you take off your initial bandage, allow your tattoo to breathe so it can heal quickly.

Resist the itch: no matter how itchy or scabby your tattoo may get during this stage, do not scratch, touch, or pick at your tattoo. This can cause infection, discoloration, scars, and a much extended healing process.

If your tattoo becomes unbearably itchy, try itching around the tattoo (a few itches away from the actual tattoo) or place a clean paper towel over the tattoo and gently pat away the itch.

Our Tattoo Aftercare Balm is formulated with powerful botanicals and essential oils to prevent and soothe the itch, so if you've struggled with dry, itchy skin in the past, your new best friend is here! 

Avoid the sun: keep your tattoo away from the sun - cover it with loose clothes and avoid sunscreen for about 2-3 weeks. Opt for a tattoo ointment with natural SPF properties that can keep your tattoo protected without harsh SPF ingredients.

Avoid shaving: don't shave in the area where your tattoo is located until it's fully healed.

STAGE 2: Days 2 - 14 Tattoo Aftercare

Days 2-6 post-tattoo

best tattoo lotion

Congrats, you made it through stage 1! At this point, your tattoo may look slightly dull, cloudy, and possibly a little red and swollen. You may also notice some blood, fluid, plasma, and what looks like pieces of your tattoo (don't worry, this is just excess ink) - all of this is totally normal.

During this stage, continue washing your new tattoo twice a day and applying a thin layer of your tattoo ointment. You may notice some scabbing in the middle-end of this stage - continue to resist any picking or itching of that area to keep your healing process short and sweet. 

To minimize any scabbing and itching, keep your new ink balmed up and don't allow it to dry out too much - this keeps scabs thin and reduces/prevents the itch factor. 

Days 7-14 post-tattoo

If you're using traditional lotion, this week is usually the itchiest of times. As the scabbing picks up, the skin gets itchier. Allow the scabs to fall off naturally and don't interfere in any way besides your twice daily gentle cleansing and moisturizing. 

If you notice any redness or swelling at this point, consult with your artist as this should be resolved by now.

If you're ahead of the game and using our Tattoo Aftercare Balm, your tattoo should have little to no itching and will be almost completely healed by this point. 

STAGE 3: the home stretch

15-30 days post-tattoo

You're in the home stretch of the healing process! The scabbing should mostly be gone by now. Keep moisturizing twice daily. You are completely healed when your tattoo is flush with your skin with an even texture and a clear surface.

If you're still experiencing scabbing, redness, swelling, or itching, call your tattoo artist as these could be signs of an infection.

STAGE 4: the long haul

Even though the wound is fully healed, you still want to give your tattooed skin some love to keep it looking its best. To keep your tattoo vibrant, moisturize it regularly, wear sunscreen, and try to limit its exposure to direct sunlight if possible.

Basically, the better care you take of your skin, the better your tattoo will look. By moisturizing regularly, protecting your tattoo from the sun, avoiding harsh, irritating skincare products, and staying hydrated, both your skin and your tattoo will age gracefully.

best tattoo lotion ingredients

The best tattoo lotion

Handcrafted in California and packed with deeply restorative, profoundly healing oils and botanicals, our Tattoo Aftercare Balm is a cult-fave for a reason - it will protect and heal your new ink in record time - think 7-10 days vs the usual 2-6 weeks! 

Made with 100% natural wildcrafted ingredients, our deeply soothing, artificial-fragrance-free healing tattoo balm is specially formulated to quickly heal your new tattoo by reducing inflammation, boosting antioxidants, fighting damaging free radicals, preventing scarring, deeply moisturizing, reducing itch, and preventing infection with antimicrobial and antibacterial ingredients. Proclaimed the best tattoo lotion from tattoo junkies and first timers alike.

Our Tattoo Aftercare Balm is also made with zero waste, plastic-free packaging that is home compostable. And the best part: every product purchased saves a baby turtle hatchling. Heal your tattoo and the planet while you're at it!

What our community says about the Tattoo Aftercare Balm:   

"I have very sensitive skin so many balms and ointments cause even more irritation but the Tattoo Aftercare Balm has been such a blessing. I started using it on healing tattoos but now I use it for everything - chapped lips, eczema, dry hands, and especially when the skin around my nose gets raw after a cold. It never stings or causes irritation - it’s truly an incredible product. I’m ordering another tube for my son to take with him to school."


"I love this tattoo aftercare balm. I get a tattoo at least once a month and I have been using this product for over 3 years now and I love it. I love that it is environmentally friendly and a small, local California business. I live in San Francisco and order 2 1oz tubes every time I run out online. This is much better than lotion or vaseline or A&D ointment. This is best used just after the scabbing phase of the tattoo for the next month or two as the skin fully heals."  


"Gave this to a family member who is in the process of getting extensive tattoos. He just called wanting to know where he could order more, so it must be working!"



If you have any questions about our Tattoo Aftercare Balm or healing herbs in general, reach out to us anytime via IG or email to ask an Herbalist!