Tattoos can be a daily reminder of something meaningful that is close to your heart, a life-changing event, or simply serve as a form of self-expression. In any case, if you want your tattoo to last a long time, before and after care is crucial.
How long does the tattoo healing process take? What are typical signs that your tattoo is not healing properly and what is the long-term care? We have summarized all of this for you!
The typical tattoo healing phases
A normally healing tattoo goes through three broad stages of healing:
Day 1 - 3: Inflammation
It is normal for a tattoo to be red, swollen and tender for the first 48-72 hours. Some blood and/or ink may also spill during this time. These symptoms should improve each day. Prolonged symptoms should be evaluated by your tattoo artist and/or a doctor.
Day 4 - 14: Visible recovery
As the healing process progresses, the top layer of skin peels, flakes, scabs and itches. This is a normal, healthy healing process. Avoid scratching, rubbing, picking at scabs, and physically removing peeling skin. This will only lead to further injury and prolong the recovery period.
Day 14 - 30: Invisible recovery
The visible signs mentioned above are usually gone by the third week after getting the tattoo, but the tattoo will likely remain dull and dark until about a month after the tattoo is done. After a month, the tattoo will have assumed its permanent, vibrant color. The regeneration of the skin under the tattoo will take another 3-6 months.
How long do tattoos take to heal?
In general, it lasts about a month from the moment of tattooing until a tattoo takes permanent form on a young, healthy individual. Tattoos with more saturated areas of color can take a little longer to heal. Saturated pigments require more pinholes than finer tattoos. This creates a larger inflammatory response that requires a longer recovery period.
What to look out for with a fresh tattoo
- Listen to what your tattoo artist recommends: Most tattoo artists have their own personal aftercare instructions.
- If pain, severe inflammation or other serious healing problems occur, consult a dermatologist.
- Only touch your tattoo with washed hands! The most important step is to thoroughly clean your hands before touching and cleaning your tattoo.
- Definitely not scratching - yes exactly, I'm looking at you
- Avoid being in the sun for a long time and refrain from sunbathing.
- Use a breathable bandage for the first week: since tattoos create openings in the skin for bacteria to enter, we recommend covering your tattoo with an adhesive, breathable bandage for the first week and reapplying it daily.
- After removing the bandage, you should wash your tattoo. Use lukewarm water and mild liquid soap, antibacterial or antimicrobial, to gently remove ointment, blood, and plasma and cleanse the area completely.
- It is also important to apply ointment to the tattoo very gently, even after the first week, until all signs of healing have subsided
- Avoid bathing, hot tubs, saunas and swimming
- Do not shave the area
- Don't wear clothes that are too tight
Long-term tips for a beautifully aging tattoo
Protect your tattoo by always wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 50 when you go outside. You should cut out sunbathing altogether , because it not only damages your tattoo, but is largely responsible for skin aging and can lead to skin cancer.
Even if your tattoo has already healed, you should regularly care for the skin with a compatible, not heavily perfumed moisturizing cream. This way your skin ages beautifully and is supplied with sufficient moisture.
Cover photo: Allef Vinicius