Can You Wear Tight Clothes Over a New Tattoo?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on January 7, 2020
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

No, you shouldn’t wear tight clothes over a new tattoo. This can be damaging to your latest work of art in many ways. For example, your tattoo needs room to breathe and heal, as well as nothing rubbing against it.

This isn’t great news if you’re used to wearing tight clothing, or if you like to work out a lot. Even so, we have some solutions for you so you can ensure your tattoo heals swiftly, and the vibrancy of your tattoo is maximized.


Clothes Maketh the Tattoo

How exactly does your choice of clothes affect the look of your tattoo? Tight clothes tend to be restrictive on your body and don’t allow your skin to breathe as much as necessary.

When coupled with the fact that clothes also rub against your skin, it can spell trouble for your tattoo. Your tattoo is a beautiful wound that’s healing around the artwork. When you use tight clothes after getting a tattoo, you’re constricting this wound and damaging your skin cells.

Particularly be aware of wearing tight clothes when you’re active and sleeping. While wickable fabric can draw moisture away from the tattoo, some of it will still be trapped and lock moisture into the skin. Although moisturizing the tattoo is important, avoid trapping moisture in the skin.

When sleeping, you move around more than you think. Wearing loose or no clothes at all reduces friction and rubbing, enabling the new skin layers to form and heal. The appearance of your tattoo can be permanently damaged if the skin doesn’t heal uniformly.

Let it Breathe

A simple way of tackling this issue to let your tattoo breathe. If you’ve gotten a tattoo on a part of your body that doesn’t need to be covered for work, we suggest airing it for a few days. This works extremely well when your tattoo is located on your arms or legs, and so can kickstart the healing.

Try to wear items that compliment the tattoo and allow it to breath, instead of squeezing it into tight-fitting clothing

Tattoos on a prominent part of the body, such as the back, can be a bit problematic, especially if you lead an extremely active lifestyle. In this situation, make sure you opt for materials that aren’t restrictive and are porous enough to let some oxygen in. Cotton is the way to go here, as this light and permeable material will give your tattoo some healing room. 

Aftercare Tips

Very little is done in the way of regulating or standardizing the entire tattooing process, including the aftercare. Until this happens, here are a few things we know for sure about tattoo aftercare:

  • Avoid direct sunlight
  • Avoid excessive moisture
  • Don’t pick the scab
  • Keep it clean

Avoid Direct Sunlight

The sun can have a varied level of effect on your tattoo, depending on your skin type and the harshness of the sun. Your skin absorbs the UV rays from the sun, which in turn alters the melanin in the skin and the look of your tattoo.

This can be especially detrimental to a fresh tattoo. In any case, it’s best to avoid direct sunlight on your new tattoo and to wear sunscreen once your tattoo is fully healed.

Avoid Excessive Moisture 

The effect of moisture on a tattoo is well-documented by this point, so it’s important to keep your new tattoo dry as much as possible.

If your tattoo does get soaked, make sure to dry it out as soon as possible. Try and maintain this until your tattoo heals entirely, which could take around four to six weeks.

Don’t Pick the Scab

Tattoos tend to scab while healing, and this can lead to quite the itch. You can moisturize to help reduce this uncomfortable sensation, but under no circumstances should you pick at the scab. Let your tattoo heal at its own pace.

To relieve that itch, apply a cold compress and ensure the skin is moisturized.

Keep Clean

Bacterial infections can be your tattoo’s worst nightmare. If you want to avoid turning your work of art into art that only a doctor would enjoy, keep your hands clean at all times.

You can use a sanitizer to wash your hands before handling your tattoo, which should remove any bacterial residue. Avoid chemicals while washing or cleaning your tattoo — just plain hot water and unscented soap does the trick just fine.

Leaving the Right Mark

Tattoos, much like people, need some space to breathe and heal. Wearing tight clothes could muddle the entire effort you’ve taken with your tattoo so far, so make sure you follow through on the aftercare. Wearing airy, light and non-restrictive clothing isn’t much work when the reward is as sweet as having a great tattoo.

Keeping your tattoo safe and clean isn’t a long-term commitment, but it’s a very serious short-term one. If you can sustain your tattoo’s health for the first couple of weeks, then you’re in the clear, and you have something wicked to show for all your efforts.