Showering With a New Tattoo (Do’s and Don’ts)

So, you got inked, good for you! It doesn’t mean you need to stop taking showers though. You need not be afraid of getting your new tattoo wet (you do need to clean it, after all), so showers are perfectly fine. But then again, not all showers are created equal. So, if you want to know how showering with a new tattoo works, please scroll down!

How soon after getting a tattoo can you take a shower?

how showering with a new tattoo works

Photo by John Fornander

This is probably the most pressing question on your mind right now – when can you take a shower after getting inked?

Well, truthfully, the answer depends on the kind of bandage or wrap your tattooist put on your skin. Many artists use either cling film or sterile bandage.

But there’s a growing number who use more modern wraps that are breathable and waterproof, e.g. Saniderm’s transparent adhesive bandage.

The best thing for you to do would be to follow your artist’s instructions. Here are a couple of scenarios:

  • If they use cling film, they’ll most likely tell you to take it off in a couple of hours or after you get home. You can wash the tattoo and take a quick shower then.
  • But if they use something like Saniderm, they may tell you to wait until the following day before you take it off and take a shower. Then they’ll most likely recommend you re-wrap it using the same kind of film (e.g. Saniderm). Again, this will depend on the tattooist.

No matter what time your artist says you can take off the wrap, it’s going to feel oh so good when you finally take a shower! There’s nothing like feeling clean after getting through a tattoo session!

Now, in some cases, your tattoo – which is technically an open wound – is going to sting a bit when it gets hit by a direct stream of water. Read on to know how you can shower correctly without causing too much pain and/or ruining your new tattoo!

The do’s and don’ts of showering with a new tattoo

Photo by Pixabay

Showering may seem like a straightforward thing to do. Just turn the knob to the left or right (if you’ve got hot or cold water). Wait for the water to flow from the showerhead. Step inside the shower area. Get wet and apply shampoo and soap. Rinse. Then, lastly, dry yourself up. Pretty simple, right?

Well, not quite. With a new tattoo, there are new rules you need to observe if you want your tattoo to last long. Here they are:

Do set the right temperature

Should you use hot or cold water? Well, for starters, hot water may not be good for a brand-new tattoo. This is because hot water opens skin pores which may cause some ink to leak out, especially if the water is directed full blast at the area. So, the right temperature for new tattoos in the shower is either lukewarm or cold.

Lukewarm water helps remove tattoo gunk, and cold water closes up the pores. Some tattooists recommend running cold water during the last 30 seconds to help close the pores and prevent ink loss.

Do use fragrance-free and alcohol-free soap

Alcohol and artificial fragrance in soap is bad for a new tattoo. This is because these are harsh ingredients that can cause damage to the ink that’s still trying to settle in the skin. Upon contact with the still-open tattoo puncture wounds, it may bring about a painful, burning sensation. These ingredients are also more likely to cause skin irritations and dryness to the area.

For more information on what soaps to use, here’s a list of recommended tattoo soaps for healing tatts. Here’s our top 4 for use in the shower:

picture of bronner's pure castile unscented baby soappicture of dove unscented soappicture of neutrogena facial soappicture of aveeno baby daily care gentle wash
Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Unscented Baby SoapDove Sensitive Skin Bar SoapNeutrogena Transparent Facial Soap Aveeno Baby Daily Care Gentle Wash

Do be gentle when touching and cleaning your tattoo

Your skin will be very tender during the first few days post-tattoo. You don’t want to carelessly bump your tattoo in the shower (easy to do if your shower area is quite small). A slight bump may be fine, but harder bumps may injure the skin and thus delay the healing process

Do shower quickly

This is going to be a bit hard if you’re used to taking your sweet, sweet time at the shower. But once you get a tattoo (for the first week or so, at least), you need to cut down your shower time into nothing more than a few minutes (maybe 5-10 minutes max). Just enough to clean your body, but not get your tattoo soaking wet. Since the ink is still settling in the skin, it’s dangerous for the tattooed area to get soaked.

Don’t spray your tattoo directly with water

If you like getting a high-pressure water massage in the shower, then things are about to change (temporarily, at least). Well, depending on where you got inked, you may need to slow down the water pressure to something gentler. This is so you don’t accidentally turbo-spray your tattoo directly with water. Instead, cup the water and gently wash the area.

Don’t use any shower accessories on your tattoo

When you shower, use the main cleaning tool you were born with – your hands. Try not to get fancy; skip your favourite loofah, sponge, and shower brush. These things can remain wet for hours and can easily transfer germs and bacteria over to your skin, which can cause a tattoo infection. Additionally, these can also damage the healing skin on top of your tattoo, so keep these accessories in the cabinet for now.

What to do after taking a shower?

Once you’re done with your shower, pat your tattoo dry using a few sheets of kitchen roll (don’t rub it). Alternatively, you can also let it air dry. This is actually a better option because nothing gets in contact with your tattoo, so there’s less risk of infection.

Of course, you can still rub your non-tattooed body parts – and those covered by old tattoos – just as vigorously as before. But step on the brakes over the inked spot.

What happens next depends on your tattooist’s aftercare instructions:

  1. They may tell you to apply a thin layer of healing ointment like Aquaphor or A+D. These ointments are petroleum jelly-based. But, unlike Vaseline, they actually let the air in whilst letting the wound underneath heal, too.
  2. If they advocate dry healing, they may tell you not to apply anything to the area, and to just leave it alone.
  3. Some tattooists may tell you to re-wrap the tattoo. If this is the case, check out our guide on what to re-wrap your new tattoo with.

Is bathing better than showering when it comes to new tattoos?

bathing in dirty water will surely cause an infected tattoo

Photo by Naomi August

Bathing is such a relaxing way to go about cleaning your body. You fill up the tub with water, put half a cup of your favourite liquid soap (or drop in a bath bomb for that luxurious experience!), and dive in. Well, not really dive in. Just go sit in the tub, watch Netflix or read a book, and enjoy the bubbles.

Showering is a whole lot more practical, but certainly less fun than bathing. It’s great though if you’re in a hurry and need to get cleaned up quick.

That being said, when it comes to healing tattoos, it’s best to avoid bathing for the next week or so. This is because the dirt gets trapped in the tub, and these can easily enter your ‘open wound’ and cause an infection.

Read more about bathing and swimming with a new tattoo here.

Conclusion

Showering with a new tattoo need not be a painful experience. It will be uncomfortable, yes, but this will depend on where your tattoo is. If you follow the tips shared in this article, you’ll not only feel clean after your shower, you’ll also ensure no harm is done to your precious new ink!

Liking our content so far? Subscribe to our newsletter to receive tattoo-related updates!

* Don't worry, we won't bombard you with emails. We'll only send updates once in a blue moon. Promise.

Leave a comment

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap