25x What to avoid after getting a tattoo


So you’ve just had your first tattoo placed. Your own, personal piece of art that tells something about you and your personality. Your tattoo artist probably gave you some tips on how to take care of your new tattoo. But just as important is the question: what to avoid after getting a tattoo? Let’s find out!

The bandage

  • Don’t remove the bandage too soon. If the tattoo artist has covered the tattoo with cling film or a compress, you should only remove it after 2 to 4 hours. Plaster spray wears off by itself.
  • Once you have removed the bandage, you should never cover the tattoo again.
  • Don’t leave the bandage on longer than advised. The tattoo needs air to heal.

Prevent infections

  • Don’t touch your tattoo with dirty hands. Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap beforehand.
  • Do not scratch or pick the tattoo, no matter how itchy or irritating. Rather use a gel ice pack.
  • Don’t let pets lick your tattoo wound.
  • Avoid sweating a lot after getting a tattoo. So don’t go running, cycling or do other things that will cause you to sweat a lot.

Change your (beauty) routine

  • Do not shave the skin until your tattoo has completely healed. Also if you shave around the tattoo, don’t let shaving cream or hair get into the tattoo.   
  • Do not use your own ointments, creams, disinfectants, and cosmetics. Use only what the tattoo artist, or a doctor, advises. (see our tips below on what products HealthLine advises)
  • Do not use Neosporin or poly.
  • Don’t use too much oil or moisturizing products. This will make it easier for bacteria to grow.
  • Don’t use sunblock until the tattoo is completely healed.
  • Don’t clean your tattoo with very hot water. Use cold or lukewarm water instead.
  • Try to avoid soap and shower gels with perfume and pigments.
  • Don’t take hot showers, take cold showers or showers with lukewarm water. A hot shower will not only hurt, but will also harm the dye.

Clothes to avoid

  • Do not allow the tattoo to come into contact with dirty, tight, or fluffy clothing that can stick to the wound.
  • Don’t wear tight clothing over your tattoo. This will cause friction and will hurt the healing.

Foods to avoid

Some suggest you shouldn’t eat foods that increase the chance of an infection. These foods are:

  • Juices and soda’s (unless fresh and homemade)
  • Instant noodles
  • Alcohol
  • Pork meat
  • Sweets: cake, candy, chocolate, cookies, etc.
  • Fried food

Try to eat healthily and eat lots of protein, fruits, vegetables and drink a lot of water. You can also take vitamin C supplements. Eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle will help with the healing of the tattoo.

Other things to avoid

  • Avoid sauna, steam baths, pools, or a hot tub. Avoid them for at least three to six weeks until the wound has completely healed.
  • Don’t go tanning in natural sunlight or in a tanning studio. The dyes can emit harmful substances under the influence of sunlight. So do not go under the sunbed in the first weeks and avoid the sun or cover the skin. Even after healing, the skin remains more sensitive for a long time. So always use a sunscreen with a high protection factor when you are in the sun.
  • Do not exercise if you have placed the tattoo close to a joint. The skin will constantly move and stretch, and it will take longer for the tattoo to heal.

So we’ve pretty much covered all the things you should avoid after getting a fresh, new tattoo. Let’s end with something positive and give you some tips on things you can do.

Tips on what to do

Soaps you can use

Some mild, fragrance-free soaps include Dove, Dial, and Neutrogena. After two days you can switch to moisturizers like Lubriderm, Aveeno, Curel, or Eucerin. (source)


Use sunblock on your tattoo when your tattoo is completely healed. This will make the color of the tattoo last longer.


Go back to the studio for touch-ups. After about 6 weeks, go back if you need touch-ups on any area of the tattoo. A lot of tattoo studios will do the touch-ups for free because they care about having happy customers.


If you have symptoms of infections you should go see your doctor. Symptoms include (source):

  • Fever
  • Feeling waves of heat and cold
  • Abnormal shivering
  • Swelling of the tattooed area
  • Pus coming out of the tattooed area
  • Red lesions around the tattooed area
  • Areas of hard, raised tissue

Should you trust your tattoo artist?

Interesting to know is that currently in the U.S. seven states have no regulations at all on tattoos. Six states license tattooists but don’t have any aftercare rules.

Thirty states license tattoo artists and require written or verbal instructions on aftercare.

This might sound crazy, especially compared to the strict rules in some European countries. In the Netherlands, for example, tattoo shops are required to follow very strict hygiene rules and should have a GGD permission (An important Dutch Health Organization). There are also strict rules on tattoo dyes and chemical compositions. And they require to give customers instructions on aftercare.   

But a weird and perhaps shocking fact about the Netherlands: Children aged 12-16 are allowed to get a tattoo if their parent or caretaker gives their permission.

Final words

So there are a lot of things to keep in mind after placing a new, fresh tattoo. In short: avoid things to come in contact with your tattoo, only use advised products on your tattoo, eat healthily, and give your tattoo time to heal. You should be fine!

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