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Tattoo Aftercare First Day & Night After Getting Your New Tattoo

In the first 24 hours, many people make aftercare mistakes on their new tattoo. Avoid them by following our simple and good aftercare advice below.

More often than not, from too much excitement about a new tattoo, we might even tend to forget about the proper aftercare, especially in the first day or two after the appointment.

This happens to all of us, but on the other hand, initial aftercare is not a very complex thing to do. We accentuate this because the aftercare in the first 24 hours after the tattoo is crucial, as well as the aftercare that follows too.

Due to this, we must present the proper aftercare tips for the first night and the day after getting your new tattoo.

How to Aftercare Your New Tattoo the First Day & Night

How to Aftercare Your New Tattoo the First Day

Before the first night of sleeping, make sure to remove the plastic wrap and bandage that the artist put in the salon. The skin has to breathe.

Before you change into comfortable clothes before sleeping, you need to wash the tattoo well with antibacterial soap or similar medical-approved skin cleanser, and lukewarm or semi-cold water. This first wash is important because it removes the residue of the ink, blood, and lymph liquids. Tap dry and apply the healing cream/ointment. This procedure with the cleansing and ointment is repeated a few times per whole day (as part of the regular aftercare as well).

During the first 24 hours make sure to wear only loose clothes, of natural and nice fabric – the skin must breathe, it must not be irritated from suspicious-origin fabric materials, and it is possible that within this first day there will still be some ink and lymph release and it could copy on the clothes you wear. This is why you need loose and comfortable fabric.

Workouts and strenuous activities are highly prohibited during the first 24 hours and much longer after that as well. Within this first day and night, just rest, cleanse it and be comfortable.

What if I leave the plastic wrap on to prevent copying of blood and residue on my comfy clothes?

You have to remove the plastic wrap and the bandage when you get home. Under no circumstances ever you can leave it! The skin needs to breathe, especially when the first 24 hours are crucial and most critical.

If the skin is suffocated with the wrap, during this first phase of releasing ink and lymph, can you imagine how it would turn out? It would be extremely bad to remove the bandage the second or third day and notice the tattoo is all slimy and pruney. This can slow down and even hinder the healing process, because skin covered with the wrap, cannot start to dry and form a scab so easily.

Can I wear natural fabrics or sports clothes after a new tattoo?

Yes, natural and good quality fabrics are always welcome, but not tight ones or sport clothes types. The clothes we use for exercising have to be tight to ease up and simplify our movements and bendings of the body parts. But, no matter how breathable those sports clothes are, you can not use them for the first initial day of tattoo healing.

Can I wear natural fabrics or sports clothes after a new tattoo

If your tattoo copies some lymph and ink, it would be painful to detach the clothes from your skin! So keep the tight sporty clothes only for sporting activities, not for the first day of the new tattoo. Let your skin breathe freely.

Can I wash a new tattoo with my shower gel that I use regularly?

No, not really. Of course, it would be a problem to use anything else than a medical cleanser or antibacterial soap to wash your new tattoo. On the first day when the pores still release lymph and ink residue with blood, it is highly risky to use fragrant cosmetics over skin that has pores still fragile and open.

Besides, regular cosmetics do not have antibacterial or antimicrobial properties, so there’s no point besides the fragrance and scent. And what good will scent do if it’s not healthy and irritates the tattoo? Would you rather have clean and healthy skin or irritated scented skin?

Read also: Best Antibacterial Soaps for Tattoos

Tattoo aftercare products in the drug, can I use those on my new tattoo?

Try not to, so no! Unless your artist recommended specifically those products, do not buy them and do not use them. Many products are packed in such an attractive way, adorable boxes and tubes, their marketing campaigns are irresistible as well – amazing scents, glittery effects, whatnot!

But, do not be tempted to use these, at least not on the first day or more after the tattoo. Clean, medical-approved, plain products that the artist told you to use – nothing more.

Can I try one soap and cream in the first 24 hours, and then switch to other ones after the first day?

This depends only on the artist and his healing aftercare tips and methods. Some artists recommend antibiotic creams after the first day, and some fish oil creams, but also some recommendations to keep up with the same soap and same cream even on the following days after the first one.

Whatever advice you get, follow it through without skipping or changing products on your own.

What if I do not apply healing ointment on the new tattoo the first night and day?

apply healing ointment on the new tattoo

The tattoo will ooze ink and lymph, and similar, and before that dries it is a bit wet-ish and slimy – but, you don’t notice this! It happens without us seeing or noticing it, and when we do notice it, it usually is in the morning, so the image is kind of copied on the clothes.

It is crucial to cleanse it and apply the ointment, even with this fact in mind. The pores are still very much open and somewhat vulnerable in these first 24 hours, so a good healing cream will soothe skin, nourish it, and help it feel better after traumatizing with the needle.

What if I apply a thick layer of the healing cream?

If the artist didn’t tell you to put a thick layer of the cream, then don’t do it. And truth be told, every artist says to use just a thin layer of the cream over the tattoo – just enough to make it moisturized, but not too much to suffocate it in the product.

Too much of anything isn’t a good thing, and you know this. So, a lot of healing cream will prevent the skin from breathing, especially on this crucial first day/night when the pores are still open and fragile. Use just a thin layer, that is enough to prevent skin cracking from dryness, and too much sensitivity after the tattooing.

Can I put an ice pack over a new tattoo on the first day?

Yes, you can! Many people tried out the ice pack method when they felt the skin was too tightened, it had a burning sensation almost fever-like on that area, or it hurt somehow (normal within the first few days). If the skin area is kind of swollen and burning, an ice pack is a great idea.

What is not good is hot showers or hot baths, but the cold helps the skin alleviate the pain and sensitivity. It will instantly cool off the skin and give you a sense of healing relief. You need to use a clean paper towel or regular towel over the ice pack, and hold it over the tattoo for tops of 20-30 minutes (if you can stand the cold for this long!).

After that, you can cleanse and apply the healing cream, or wait and postpone it for later. Either way, the ice pack feels like a Godsend for the first day/night after the tattoo!

What type of clothes should I wear at work the next day after a new tattoo?

Just because you ‘survived’ the first day after tattooing in your comfy clothes, it doesn’t mean that you are ready for tight jeans or pants, and tight-stretchy shirts, or similar! As long as the tattoo feels sensitive when you touch it, or still gives off that burning or tingling sensitivity, you have to wear loose clothes.

For example, if this is an issue for you due to the dress code at work or similar, it’s not a bad idea to find an alternative to this. Let’s say you are obligated to wear a very formal and tight outfit for work every day; in this case, try to wear something like a gentle almost see-through piece of clothing, like a cotton camisole or similar fabrics under the work uniform.

It will feel tight, but at least your tattoo will have direct contact with a pleasant material/good fabric.


It is not hard to dedicate yourself to good tattoo aftercare on the first day/night of the new tattoo. The habits you form then can easily continue in the following weeks of aftercare as well.

Keep in mind that you must cleanse with an antibacterial product first, and apply healing cream second – this is a rule to follow at least a few times per day as recommended. The first 24 hours are crucial in regards to sensitivity and plasma/lymph releasing, so wear only loose clothes of light and good fabrics. No bandages or plastic wraps, and no sweating, please!

Keep it healthy, and it will heal properly. Good luck!