How Often Should You Put Lotion On A New Tattoo?

During the weeks after getting a new tattoo, the skin becomes very delicate as it tries to regenerate and heal from the trauma caused by the tattooing needles pumping in and out of the area thousands of times a minute.

Most people know that applying a good lotion to the area can help to speed up the healing process while nourishing and hydrating the skin at the same, but many people are unsure about how often to put lotion on a new tattoo.


Generally, you should always aim to make sure that your tattooed skin is soft and supple to make sure that there are no areas which become exceedingly dry, which can cause the tattoo to crack and can also cause irritation and itching.

When Should You Apply Lotion To Your New Tattoo?

Applying lotion or other tattoo aftercare products to your tattoo at least 3 times a day should suffice in keeping it well hydrated and in a good enough condition in order for it to heal quickly and efficiently.

The best tattoo lotion I've ever personally used is a (vegan) tattoo aftercare product called Hustle Butter. This stuff works amazingly well during the healing process - not only to keep your tattoo really well hydrated, but it's also very good at soothing that annoying itching and irritation.


How Often Should You Put Lotion On A New Tattoo

As a rule, lotion should first be applied in the morning after waking up and after initially cleaning your tattoo.

(How to clean a new tattoo below)

As you sleep your body becomes more dehydrated as it loses water through sweat and vapor whilst breathing - therefore your tattooed skin will normally be quite dry and tight, and so applying lotion first thing should help to loosen it up and relax the area.


As the hours pass, your tattoo will gradually begin to dry up and therefore it’s best to apply another layer of lotion to the area.

Before doing this however, it’s essential that you clean the tattoo first before applying another layer of lotion.

Failing to do this, and by applying newer layer of lotion over an older layer you are running the risk of clogging the pores in the skin and also trapping any dirt that have settled onto the area, increasing the risk of infection.

Sometimes, especially if you work in a dirty environment, or somewhere where the air is particularly dry, you may wish to apply another round of lotion in the afternoon.

Dirty Hands

Use common sense here and assess whether the tattoo feels as though it’s drying up, or whether it still feels nice and moist. Applying too much lotion and suffocating the tattoo can be just as bad as not applying any at all.


Always clean your tattoo before going to bed and make sure to apply lotion afterwards once the tattoo has tried.

As mentioned, you normally lose quite a lot of moisture during the night and therefore you want to ensure that your tattoo is well hydrated before going to sleep.

Not only this but hard tap water can also cause the skin to dry out quickly and therefore moisturizing the area afterwards helps to counteract this problem.

When Should I Start Moisturizing My New Tattoo With Lotion?

You will be fine to apply lotion to the area after the first wash. Some tattoo artists recommend that you leave your tattoo for about a day before applying any lotion however. This is just in case the area is extra sensitive initially, and will therefore prevent any initial irritation from occurring during the first day.

On the other hand, many artists say that it’s fine to apply lotion or cream as soon as you remove the wrap from your tattoo.

Wrapped Tattoo

A wrapped tattoo

If in doubt, ask your artist for their professional opinion as they know your tattoo better than anybody.

How Often Should I Put Lotion On A Scabbing Tattoo?

When your tattoo begins to scab it can become exceedingly dry. Although you may automatically think that applying more lotion is the best solution, you must be very careful.

Although most tattoos scab over very lightly, some tattoos can contain quite thick, dense scabs (which is generally normal, so don’t worry).

Scabbing Tattoo

Raised, light scabbing over the tattoo

However, these big, thick scabs can also be very absorbent, and by applying too much lotion, especially when the scabs are still wet after cleaning/showering (or from not washing off older lotion), you can cause the scabs soak up too much moisture, making them become very gooey and gloopy.

The main cause of this is the new layer of lotion trapping moisture beneath it, and with nowhere for the moisture to go, it is absorbed by the scabs. This is known as tattoo bubbling, and these sticky scabs then become much more prone to being pulled or ripped off.

tattoo bubbling

A bubbling tattoo

Therefore, you should continue to apply lotion as often as you normally would unless the scabbing becomes very dry and looks like it may begin to start cracking, in which case clean the tattoo and make sure it’s completely dry before applying a small amount of lotion.

You can make sure the area is completely dry by gently patting it with a clean paper towel to get rid of most of the moisture, and then allowing the tattoo to air-dry for another 10 minutes.

Without doing this your tattoo may look dry, but there is likely still moisture trapped within the scabs.

How Often Should I Put Lotion On A Peeling Tattoo?

A tattoo that is peeling can become very itchy and very unsightly with all of the loose pieces of skin dangling off of the area.

By applying lotion regularly you can help to soothe the itching, and the moisture from the lotion can help to stick the loose pieces of skin closely to your tattoo to not only improve the appearance, but to also prevent the risk of any loose pieces of skin from being accidentally ripped off.

A peeling tattoo

This tattoo could definitely do with some added moisturizer

As with a scabbing tattoo, continue applying lotion as often as you normally would, but if the area becomes very dry or itchy, clean the tattoo thoroughly, let it dry and apply an extra layer of lotion.

How Often Should I Put Lotion On My Healed/Older Tattoo?

You may think that once your tattoo has healed it no longer needs lotion applied to it. However, this ideology is completely wrong. You tattoo will only ever look as good as the skin that it’s on, and therefore you should ensure that your tattooed skin is always will hydrated and nourished.

You can accomplish this by ensuring that you apply a good, hydrating moisturizing lotion to your tattoo once every day or every other day. By doing this you help to keep your skin elasticated and looking young.

Having healthy, hydrated skin will help your tattoo’s colors to remain deep and vivid for as long as possible.


Before applying applying lotion, you should ensure that your tattoo is completely clean. This is to ensure that no germs or bacteria get caught between the layer of lotion and your skin, which can increase the risk of infection.

Don’t apply too much lotion. Lathering on a thick layer of lotion will not only suffocate your tattoo and starve it of the oxygen it needs to heal and regenerate, but it will also help to create a sweaty and humid pocket of air underneath it, which is for perfect environment for bacteria to multiply and thrive.

Lotion on tattoo

This is FAR too much lotion and some should be blotted off with a paper towell

When rubbing lotion onto a tattoo, you only need to apply a very small amount. You should only see a slightly shiny layer of lotion over the tattoo once it’s been absorbed.

Make sure your skin is completely dry before applying any lotion. Adding lotion to your tattoo while it’s still wet or damp can waterlog your scabs and cause tattoo bubbling. If these scabs get ripped off they can pull away ink, which can lead to patchy/faded areas within your tattoo.

Don’t just apply lotion for the sake of it. If your tattoo looks/feels dry then add a small amount of lotion, but if the tattoo still looks/feels soft and supple then it should be fine as it is (although you should still clean your tattoo and re-apply lotion every morning, midday and evening).

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