Young woman getting tattoo on shoulder

How to Shower With a New Tattoo

You just got some fresh new ink, and you’re excited to see how it looks when it heals. Right before you hop into the shower, the question hits you: How long after getting a tattoo can you shower normally? 

How you clean and care for your skin determines how clear and vibrant the tattoo will turn out, and it helps prevent infections. However, if you damage your skin or don’t use the right products, you could instead end up with a patchy, blurry tattoo.

Fortunately, as long as you follow the right steps and avoid skin irritants, your tattoo is sure to heal properly and turn out crisp and clear. Follow these aftercare tips to get the best outcome for your new ink.

Can You Shower After Getting a Tattoo?

It’s perfectly fine to take a shower after getting a tattoo. However, don’t hop in the shower immediately after your tattoo appointment. 

First, consider your bandages. Your tattoo artist probably gave a recommendation for how long you should keep them on. Always follow their guidance. Remember, your tattoo is essentially an open wound, so the bandage is there to protect you from contact with bacteria and irritants, thus preventing infection. 

The coverings can vary from standard bandages and plastic wrap to waterproof, medical-grade bandages. Tattoo artists will give different suggestions for how long each type of covering needs to stay on, which can range from a few hours to a full day. In general, you should wait until you can take it off to shower, or at least avoid getting the covering or area wet. 

How to Properly Clean Your Tattoo

Keep It Quick

Keeping a new tattoo clean is important for removing any blood, oils, ink, and ointment, but you should only wash after your skin has healed sufficiently. When you’re ready to shower, keep it brief. Avoid letting the tattooed skin sit under running water for too long or fully submerging it in water for at least two weeks. That means no baths or swimming pools. 

Be Mindful of Water Temperature & Quality

Adjusting Canopy Filtered Showerhead in black

Avoid hot water entirely and stick to lukewarm temperatures. Hot water can irritate and dry out your skin, which is far from the ideal environment for a healing tattoo.

The quality of your water can also make a big difference. Hard water is water that has a high mineral content, mostly calcium and magnesium. It can dry out your skin and cause itchiness and irritation. Make sure you have access to soft water before washing new ink. Consider installing a filtered showerhead, which delivers smooth, clean water free of heavy metals, chlorine, and other contaminants.

Use Gentle Cleansers

To wash the inked area, use a mild, fragrance-free soap and apply it with your hands gently, no hardcore scrubbing. Don’t use loofahs or washcloths, which are too rough on the sensitive skin and can harbor bacteria. Also, steer clear of any products containing alcohol and other harsh chemicals. These can cause irritation and create scarring on healing skin.

Dry Off Carefully

After your shower, pat (don’t rub) the area dry with a clean, soft towel. Apply a thin layer of moisturizing ointment over the ink to help your skin stay healthy and hydrated. If you want to put on lotion, use a gentle, fragrance-free product without alcohol.

What Else Do You Need to Know About New Tattoos & Water?

The outer layer of your skin will take about 2 – 3 weeks to heal, but keep in mind that your tattoo won’t be fully healed for several months, depending on its size and location.

In that time, you should also avoid swimming. The chlorine in pools and hot tubs strips the natural oils from the skin, damaging the outer layer or skin barrier. You might notice your skin feels dry, flaky, and even chalky after swimming in a pool. This can deal some considerable damage to a healing tattoo.

Taking good care of a new tattoo might seem overwhelming, but the key is to keep it clean and moisturized and avoid submerging it in water. With the right aftercare, you can show off your new ink with confidence.

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