An unhealed tattoo is NO fun. It’s messy, it’s painful, and worst of all, it can itch like crazy. You just want it all to end, so you can finally show off your new tattoo to the world. Right now, you’re probably thinking of scratching the ink off your skin (please don’t!). Most likely, you’re asking the age old question, “What is the fastest way to heal a new tattoo?” Let’s find out if the dry healing tattoo method is the answer to your inky nightmare!
- Dry healing – what happens if you don’t moisturise your tattoo?
- What is ‘dry healing tattoo’? And how does it compare to ‘wet healing’?
- The Advantages: What’s great about dry healing tattoos?
- The Disadvantages: What’s NOT so great about dry healing tattoos?
- The Do’s and Don’ts of Dry Healing Tattoos
- DO take special care in the first few days
- DO let your tattoo breathe
- DO drink lots of water
- DO eat healthy (before, during, after getting tattoo)
- DO keep your tattooed skin clean
- DON’T give in to the temptation and scratch the itch
- DON’T wear tight clothing over your tattoo
- DON’T smoke if you can help it
- DON’T pick your scabs!
- DON’T stay out too long in the sun
Dry healing – what happens if you don’t moisturise your tattoo?
Some people think not having a moisturiser with you 24/7 is NOT a valid excuse. After all, there’s no lack of tattoo aftercare products in the market. You’ll find them everywhere – at your favourite tattoo studios, your local chemists, your nearby supermarket, and even online.
But what if the inevitable happens, and your tattoo dries up because *gasp* you forgot to moisturise it?
Well, let me tell you right now there’s no need to panic if you forget to put lotion every once in a while. Tattooed folks who practice (or preach) dry healing don’t ever worry about moisturising.
Surprised? I know I was when I first heard about it. I couldn’t believe some people can actually withstand the horrors of an unhealed tattoo, without giving in and resorting to aftercare products for relief!
What is ‘dry healing tattoo’? And how does it compare to ‘wet healing’?
‘Dry healing’ foregoes the use of any aftercare product after washing the tattooed area with mild soap and lukewarm water (or hot, if you can take it). It’s putting on a brave face and letting your tattoo heal as naturally as possible.
‘Wet or moist healing’, on the other hand, is probably what most of you guys already know. It’s the method where you apply aftercare product to the tattoo which essentially makes the area ‘wet’ or ‘moist.’
Now that you know the difference, let’s focus on the dry healing technique.
The Advantages: What’s great about dry healing tattoos?
Here are a few reasons why should consider dry healing your new tattoo:
1. Low or no cost
With dry healing, you only need some soap and water to clean out the tattoo, and then you let your body do the healing. Of course, it goes without saying that the rate by which you heal will depend on how healthy you are.
But no matter your state of health, with dry healing you won’t need to worry about a lot of things, such as:
- No more worrying about choosing the right aftercare products
- No more panicking when you run out of cream or lotion
- No more checking your budget to see if you can afford your tattooist’s recommended aftercare product
With dry healing, your only investment is the money paid to your tattooist (which really doesn’t count at this point) and your mild soap (which you probably already have at home). That’s it!
2. Very easy to manage
As long as you keep the area clean, you’re good to go. Just wash twice or thrice a day, and make sure your hands are clean before you touch your tattoo.
For best results, just avoid touching the tender area unless absolutely necessary. This is really all you have to remember with dry healing. Of course, it’s easier said than done. But if you’re determined NOT to give in to using aftercare products, then you’ll manage!
3. Natural, chemical-free healing
Aftercare products that are marketed to tattooed audiences are often tagged as ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ or ‘toxin-free’ or ‘safe for tattoos.’ But you never know with most products, right?
The truth is that there are a lot of ingredients that go into aftercare products, and some of those ingredients may be bad for you. If it’s something you don’t want to worry about, then go with natural and chemical-free healing. In other words, dry heal your tatt!
4. Perfect for those who are allergic to some aftercare ingredients
You’ve probably experienced this scenario before. You think you’re using a 100% organic product only to realise it contained an ingredient you’re allergic to (can’t blame you, the print on some labels are ridiculously tiny!).
So now, you’ve got some strange bumps coming out of your still-unhealed tattoo and the pain’s shot up to a crazy level! Well, you can avoid all that if you go au naturel and just dry heal your tattoo. No scary chemicals, just good old nature doing its job.
The Disadvantages: What’s NOT so great about dry healing tattoos?
Not everything’s rosy on the other side of the coin. Here are some reasons why you may want to rethink doing dry healing:
1. It can cause deep scabs
Scabs are normal during the healing process. They usually form at the top layer of the skin, the epidermis. But when the skin isn’t being properly moisturised (which is often the case with dry healing), the scabs can go way beyond the outer layer of the skin. It can go into the dermis layer which is where the tattoo ink ‘lives’.
What does this mean for you?
Well, when the scabs fall off, they’ll take a bit of ink with them, which results to your brand-new tattoo looking old, discoloured and faded. If you’re really unlucky, you’ll even find some spots or patches that weren’t there before, which means you may need to get a touchup sooner than expected.
By the way, if you’re NOT looking forward to the prospect of deep scabs, here is our favourite grapeseed oil-based moisturiser. It’s called After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion. You can grab a bottle on Amazon for under 20 quid!
2. It’s not for people with sensitive skin
This may sound like a contradiction to point no. 4 in the previous section. But hear me out.
People have different skin types. And those with sensitive skin are the most likely to suffer from dry healing tattoo. That said, before you even book your appointment with your tattooist, talk to your GP to make sure you don’t inadvertently cause harm to your skin. Your tattooist might also be able to offer you some advice, but just to keep it safe, ask your GP.
If you do get the nod of approval on getting a tattoo, don’t forget to ask them about dry healing afterwards. The last thing you want to worry about is getting a nasty complication that can further exacerbate your skin condition!
3. You need to be hyperaware of your surroundings 24/7
Alright, let’s say you don’t have sensitive skin and you’ve got no allergies that you’re aware of. You’re also not worried about scabs (you’re used to it) and the itch is something you can easily handle (mind over matter).
However, when dry healing tattoo, your skin is in its ‘naked’ state. Without a layer of aftercare product on top, your skin won’t be protected from unseen germs and bacteria in your surroundings. What this basically means is that you need to make sure nothing dodgy ever comes into contact with your fresh tattoo.
If you’re not careful, you risk pathogens from entering those tiny, still-open needle holes in your skin. Before you know it, your skin is swelling and oozing with pus. Or worse, you’ll contract something that will require a stay in hospital!
4. You need superior itch tolerance
Scabs can itch like crazy. And the sad part is that it’s not going to itch for just an hour or two. It’s going to itch for days. DAYS! Do you think you can handle that much itching?
Personally, I’ve never had much tolerance for itching and would absolutely go nuts if I didn’t have access to something that will help relieve the itch! So, kudos to anyone who can go through the entire dry healing process without cheating and secretly putting on some anti-itch cream when no one’s looking.
I wrote a separate post on why you should consider putting lotion on your new tattoo, so go check it out if you’re not inclined to dry healing!
The Do’s and Don’ts of Dry Healing Tattoos
Want to know how to heal a tattoo fast? Here’s what you need to do (and what not to do) to ensure dry healing success:
DO take special care in the first few days
The first 2 to 3 days after getting inked is the most crucial stage of the tattoo healing process, whether it be dry healing or wet/moist healing. You need to pay close attention to your skin, make sure it’s clean and primed for healing. Avoid anything that can cause an infection, this includes your very own fingers so always wash your hands before touching your fresh skin art.
DO let your tattoo breathe
One of the main benefits of dry healing is that oxygen can freely get into your skin which does speed up the healing process. With wet healing, it’s easy to slather on way too much lotion, ointment or cream that can block your skin’s pores.
DO drink lots of water
Yes, water. Not alcohol or sugary soft drinks. Water may be tasteless, but it does a lot of wonders for our skin. It helps with skin hydration, which leads to better elasticity, and ultimately, faster healing for your tattoo.
DO eat healthy (before, during, after getting tattoo)
Drinking water is a good start, but don’t forget to eat healthy as well. Fruits, vegetables, fish, pasta, rice, and high-quality meat are not only delicious, they’re so much healthier than junk food! Water plus healthy food is a powerful combo that can do wonders for your skin – and your tattoo.
DO keep your tattooed skin clean
If you don’t, you risk germs, bacteria and other pathogens from entering your skin and essentially ruining your tattoo! There are literally a million different ways your wound, a.k.a. your tattoo, can get infected. So, keep a hawk-eye on your tattoo at all times!
DON’T give in to the temptation and scratch the itch
Oh, this one’s probably the hardest thing to do. But if you can pull it off during the dry healing process, then kudos to you. Resisting the urge to scratch just may be the fastest way to heal a tattoo!
DON’T wear tight clothing over your tattoo
If you’re home all day and you’re comfortable airing out your skin in your birthday suit, then this reminder isn’t for you. But if you do go out in public and wear your normal work or street clothes, make sure they aren’t tight-fitting. You don’t want your skin to stick to your clothes and inadvertently ruin your tattoo in the process.
DON’T smoke if you can help it
You probably already know this for a fact, but sometimes, it’s just so hard to say no to something you love and are already addicted to. But let me say it here: cigarette smoking is BAD for your skin. And your tattoo, well, it’s in your skin. So, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that smoking is bad for your tattoo as well.
DON’T pick your scabs!
Here’s how to help your tattoo heal properly: don’t pick your scabs!
Let me say it again: scabs are normal. They may look gross, but don’t go picking them out. If you do, you risk pulling out some of the ink (remember dry healing tattoos are prone to deeper scabs). Be patient. Let your scabs fall out on their own.
DON’T stay out too long in the sun
You don’t need to live like a vampire and avoid the sun forever. But from the moment you get your tattoo, your sunbathing days are most likely over.
If you stay too long in the sun, the pigment in your skin gets broken down by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Sunblock can only do so much, it’s not a 100% foolproof way to protect your tattoo from the sun’s rays.
Dry healing may be one of the best ways to heal a tattoo, but the truth is that it’s not for everybody. Going natural is always nice in my book, but it may not be the right approach for most. Talk to your tattooist (or your GP if you have skin issues) and ask them what they think about dry healing. Most (experienced) tattooists should be able to offer up some useful advice to help your tattoo heal as fast as possible.