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12 Most Common Tattoo Aftercare Mistakes to Avoid

Pay attention to these following seemingly innocent aftercare mistakes that you might be doing yourself, and make your tattoo heal gorgeously.

After we get a new tattoo there is no doubt that we feel ecstatic and thrilled. But, little do most people know that the tedious tempo starts right at that moment – the aftercare begins!

This is the crucial point that you have to pay attention to because if not, the tattoo is not as good as it should be. Improper aftercare can truly ruin the perfect outcome because the skin heals badly this way. There are quite a few tattoo aftercare mistakes to avoid, as listed below.

The 12 Most Common Tattoo Aftercare Mistakes

To simplify the aftercare mistakes, we will divide them mainly into 2 categories: in the shower/bathroom, and everything else.

1. Water temperature in the shower for tattoos

Do not use too hot water, or even mildly hot! Think of the new tattoo as skin that is slightly burned, and very traumatized – it is almost the same. It feels burning, tightened (very taut), warm, and even dry (because soon scab forming will start).

Water temperature in the shower for tattoo

You can’t even touch it without unpleasantness, so why add hot water over it? Besides, hot water opens up skin pores, and this is unnecessary with new ink. Instead, use lukewarm or coldish water – you will feel such a relief too!

When it comes to the products, stick with the antibacterial soap the artist recommended, or a similar product. Nothing else over the tattoo! On the rest of the body use whatever you wish to.

2. Harsh cleaning the tattooed skin in the shower

Use gentle movements, almost non-existent! Not strokes, but imagine you want to just ‘hover’ with the arm over that piece of skin, and barely touch it, feather-light touch.

Do not point the showerhead stream directly on the tattoo, just rinse with your hand, easily.

3. Shaving before tattoo has fully healed

Shaving before tattoo has fully healed

The bad news is that you can’t while the healing takes place. So, be prepared to leave razors, wax, trimmers, all that aside for at least 3-4 weeks.

When the skin feels smooth, non-sensitive, there is not even a hint of scab anywhere, only then you can start with the hair removal again.

Besides, for the appointment, both you and the artist went over the skin with a razor, and the skin is tattooed only when perfectly smooth. You should be fine with just a ‘stubble-area’ for 3-4 weeks.

4. Exercising with a new tattoo

Here it largely depends where your tattoo is (which body part), whether you do strenuous exercises, which season it is, and where you exercise.

For example, if your tattoo is on parts that bend and sweat a lot, you cannot exercise even if you want to – the sensitivity and unpleasantness will stop you right away.

Exercising with a new tattoo

If you are into light yoga or stretches, you could pull it off, but only if almost passive, without sweating, without bending that body part with the ink. Otherwise, all other extreme activities and movements are out of the question!

It goes without saying, but, in the summer, you sweat just by sitting, let alone exercising. So if you have to, do very light yoga-style workouts, at home in a clean setting with clean comfy clothes, and when the weather is cold-ish. Or simply rest for a month, you will be fine either way!

5. Sunny vacation with your new tattoo

Sunny vacation with new tattoo

Simple – you don’t go on vacation! Can you not last a few weeks until the tattoo heals?

Would you risk skin getting burnt from the sun?

Would you risk salty water or impure water contaminating your sensitive freshly tattooed skin?

If you happen to already be in contact with a lot of sun exposure and you cannot avoid it, please at least cover the skin with light, good quality linen, and lots of high SPF sunscreen underneath.

6. Beauty and spa salon appointments while the tattoo heals

Well, only those that include your new tattoo exposed with steam, water, wax, touching, tan beds, and similar. This means no waxing sessions, no massages, no sauna, no spa-bath rooms, no slimming treatments, no tan beds…

7. The skin itches and you pick at it

Well, also people who are on a diet are tempted to eat fast food and sweets, but should they listen to every urge? Should you too?

It is normal for the skin to feel strange, itchy, and these are signs of healing during the scabbing phase. Keep your hands to yourself, and do not touch, scratch, pick or peel the tattoo – under no circumstances.

8. Wrong clothes during the healing days

Only natural and comfortable linens or fabrics. Avoid synthetic fabrics at all costs – and not just when you have a new tattoo.

For now, wear loose clothes, something that is not pressing too tight, or making your skin feel ‘vacuumed’ and ‘tight’. If the ink is on the torso, wear loose shirts of breathable material. If the ink is around the stomach, avoid jeans that go right up to the tattoo and squeeze your waist.

9. Perfumes or similar products around the new tattoo

Perfume on new tattoo

No! Even around the tattoo, all those cosmetics and products full of chemicals and fragrances could find their way next to the fragile, traumatized skin with a tattoo.

Apply whatever you want on the other parts of the body, but avoid the area even quite far from the new tattoo.

10. Forgetting to apply enough aftercare

It happens even to the best and most responsible of us. We tend to forget to apply aftercare products due to a lot of movement during the day, obligations, being held up with deadlines at work, personal issues, and so on.

Do not worry. As long as you remember to apply the product right after, you are fine.

11. Not setting up a schedule for tattoo aftercare

It is not complex. If you are forgetful with a foggy mind quite so often, you can always set an alarm or a similar reminder on your phone or computer, or any device nearby.

That way when it signals a sound, you can grab the cream and check off that to-do thing in the meantime.

12. Adding additional bandages or foils to your new tattoo at home

Never, ever think about doing this! If that was part of the aftercare, your artist would have told you so.

Otherwise, you should just remove the bandage and foil when you get home after the session, and keep on with the cleansing and creams as advised.

Foils or bandages at home will even put you at health risk – your skin will be suffocated, moist and not breathing, it could break out and appear with bubbles or as if it’s ‘prune-like’ and the tattoo underneath can remain permanently distorted and damaged due to bad healing!


Some aftercare mistakes are common, not because we don’t care for our tattoos, but because we simply forget or it slips our minds. But, other mistakes are due to not enough attention, and sadly, not enough caring.

First, when it is shower/bath time, people use harsh materials to scrub off the skin, such as spikey sponges, loofas, scrub products. This damages the initial scab layer and hinders the healing. Another thing is wiping the tattoo too vigorously with the towel out of the shower – instead, you have to tap dry gently. Next, shaving over the tattoo is another mistake – avoid anything over the ink until it heals fully and becomes smooth and non-sensitive.

In continuation, people also apply too much or too little of the healing creams; lack of it will crack your skin, and excess will suffocate the skin, hindering its breathing.

Then, there is the visiting of gyms, pools, lakes, saunas, and similar – these places are like centers for bacteria and germs, and the sweating will slow down the scab-forming and might break out your skin! While at this topic, SPF avoiding is a huge mistake, with risking UV damage to the skin.

Also, another mistake, probably among the worst, is picking and peeling of the skin. People feel tempted to peel off the scab, or at least scratch it a lot – this can fully destroy a gorgeous tattoo and leave it distorted and unappealing. Similar to this, wearing rough or tight fabrics irritate the skin furthermore.

Read also: Best Lotion for Tattoo Aftercare