Tattoo aftercare is probably the most important step towards a healed and healthy tattoo. However, because aftercare, or rather lack thereof, can easily make the tattoo go wrong, some people go overboard with certain aftercare steps, like moisturizing the tattoo for example.
Keeping the tattoo hydrated and hydrated is quite important, but overdoing it can be counterproductive and lead to healing issues.
So if you’re guilty of over-hydrating your tattoo, you’ve come to the right place. In the following paragraphs, we will discuss moisturizing tattoos, the risks of overdoing it, and how to deal with problems resulting from overhydration. Let’s start!
Tattoo hydration: quick overview
Why do you moisturize a tattoo?
When you get a new tattoo, it will take 24-48 hours to stop oozing blood and ink, and begin the process of closing and healing. This is when your aftercare routine takes on a new level and focuses on proper healing of the tattoo. One of the important steps in the healing process is the application of lotion and ointment to keep the tattoo hydrated and hydrated.
There are many reasons why hydration is essential in the aftercare routine. For example, lotion and ointment applications can;
- Help with tattoo itch
- Prevent flaking and crusting on tattoos
- Preventing Tattoo Peeling Problems
- Keep the skin hydrated and healthy
- Prevent the tattooed area from drying out
- Prevent tattoo cracking
- Promote new skin cells and faster healing
If you don’t moisturize your tattoo, you risk it peeling too much and ruining the design. Also, the tattoo will be unbearably itchy and you might even start scratching the area which could also lead to problems like infection of the tattoo. Not to mention the tattoo drying out, which could lead to severe cracking, peeling, and crusting as the tattoo heals.
How often should you moisturize your tattoo?
Professional tattoo artists have always recommended moisturizing their tattoo(s) once or twice a day. The best way to moisturize a tattoo is to do it morning and night. It is also important to apply lotion or ointment after showering to protect the tattoo from drying out.
To note: Be sure to wait between 10 and 20 minutes to apply the lotion/ointment to the tattoo after a shower. During this time, the tattoo will naturally dry out, so when you apply moisturizer, it will soak into the skin well. By applying lotion to a wet tattoo, you risk overdoing it.
How much moisturizer should you apply?
It is essential to apply only a thin layer of an organic fragrance-free lotion or ointment on the tattoo. Many seem to apply a lot of lotion to their tattoos, thinking it will moisturize and hydrate the tattoo more deeply. However, such an application can only lead to overhydration of a tattoo.
What are the risks of over-hydrating a tattoo?
Applying thicker layers of lotion or ointment, several times a day (or every hour or two as some people do), you risk over-hydrating a tattoo. By over-hydrating a tattoo, you can cause the following problems;
- Due to excess moisture, the tattoo will not be able to dry out and heal
- Excess humidity can create the perfect environment for bacteria and germs to grow
- Excessive hydration can lead to tattoo inflammation and infection
- Excess moisture can cause clogged pores since the moisturizer prevents the skin from breathing
- Excess moisture can cause tattooed skin to break out
To avoid these problems, be sure to follow the hydration rules we mentioned earlier. However, make sure you don’t under-hydrate your tattoo as well.
Some people are afraid of over-hydrating their tattoo, so they leave it dehydrated, which leads to heavy crusting and dryness of the tattoo. So make sure to stay in the middle and just apply a thin layer of lotion/ointment twice a day.
How to repair a tattoo that is too hydrated?
If you’ve applied too much lotion or ointment to a tattoo, here’s how you can fix it.
- Make sure you wipe off excess lotion/ointment using a paper towel or a soft cotton towel; be gentle and do not push the skin or sweep the tattoo with the towel quickly and harshly.
- Let the tattoo dry and soak it in the remaining lotion; If this takes too long, you can use a fan on its lowest settings to blow hot air into the tattoo. However, it can be potentially dangerous if you approach the tattoo too close to the fan. Make sure to keep the fan 30-50cm away from the tattoo.
- Do not reapply lotion for the rest of the day. Let the tattoo soak in and process any lotions that have already been applied. However, if you shower later, you can apply the thinnest layer of lotion possible just to avoid over-drying the tattoo.
- Continue to apply lotion/ointment the next day as recommended; twice a day, preferably once in the morning and once in the evening, especially after showering.
What are the risks of a lack of hydration of the tattoo?
Just as it’s easy to over-hydrate a tattoo, it can be even easier to under-hydrate it. Some of the risks of lack of hydration and hydration include;
- Drying the tattoo
- Tattoo cracking
- The scabs do not fall off
- Excessive itching
- Improper tattoo peeling
- General tattoo healing issues (prolonged healing time)
Every supposed type of tattoo aftercare going from one extreme to another will disrupt the healing process of your tattoo in one way or another.
Make sure you always follow your tattoo artist’s aftercare routine rules and don’t overdo it with your own ideas about how much or not at all to moisturize your tattoo. Of course, you should listen to your body, but by hydrating too much or too little, you are doing yourself or your tattoo a disservice.
Other Tattoo Hydration FAQs
What moisturizer should I use for my tattoo?
We recommend that you always opt for tattoo-friendly lotions and ointments that are fragrance-free, non-irritating, and organic. Here are some of our favorite tattoo moisturizers;
- Bepanthen Diaper Care Ointment – this ointment has a gentle formulation designed to soothe a tattoo during its healing process. The ointment helps relieve pain and itching since it is an antiseptic cream. Professional tattoo artists recommend Bepanthene ointment to speed up recovery and nourish tattooed skin with vitamin B5.
- Brooklyn Grooming Tattoo Balm – this balm is specially designed for tattoo aftercare and it is designed by professional tattoo artists. The balm has a rich, replenishing formula that can promote faster healing. It contains nourishing ingredients like shea butter, hemp and sesame seed oil, as well as organic vitamin E. The balm is organic, unscented and vegan.
- Aveeno Sheer Hydration Daily Moisturizing Lotion – Aveeno Lotion is perfect when you want to increase tattoo hydration. It is perfect for cases where the tattoo is dry and under-hydrated. The lotion’s formula is rich in glycerin, caprylyl glycol and citric acid, which keep the skin hydrated for 24 hours. It is also fragrance-free and suitable for sensitive skin.
Should I moisturize my tattoo once it’s completely healed?
If you want to keep your tattoo looking vibrant and radiant even years after having it done, you should continue to moisturize it even after it has fully healed. The aftercare routine does not just apply to the healing process. Even after your tattoo has healed, you still need to take care of it.
So be sure to apply a high-quality, fragrance-free, non-irritating lotion or ointment, and don’t even think about going anywhere without applying a proper sunscreen. This will help your tattoo stay fresh for years. Also, proper care will prevent premature tattoo fading or other issues.
Can I use Vaseline to moisturize my tattoo?
Contrary to popular belief, petroleum jelly has no moisturizing effect. It is made of petroleum jelly which does not penetrate the skin. Instead, it stays above the skin, creating a protective barrier.
However, when the tattoo heals, petroleum jelly can keep it too hydrated and even lead to tattoo infection. Because the protective barrier does not allow the tattoo to breathe, it does not dry out, and the healing process takes much longer than it should.
The only time it’s okay to apply Vaseline (the thinnest layer) to a healing tattoo is when you shower. A layer of Vaseline will protect the tattoo from water and keep it safe and dry. However, once you are done showering, be sure to remove the petroleum jelly, wash off the tattoo, and moisturize with a thin layer of lotion.
Once the tattoo is completely healed, you are free to apply petroleum jelly as a tattoo care, but even then try not to overdo it. Vaseline can clog pores and promote breakouts.
Some people believe there is no such thing as overhydrating a tattoo. But, unfortunately, they are wrong. A tattoo can easily become overhydrated, which can create serious healing issues. To avoid these issues, simply continue to follow the aftercare routine recommended by your tattoo artist and try not to introduce any new steps into your tattoo care without consulting a professional first.
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