Balm Tattoo Aftercare: Complete Guide Caring Your New Ink

Balm Tattoo mean

Getting a new tattoo can be an exciting experience. However, the work doesn’t end once you walk out of the tattoo studio. Proper aftercare is crucial for ensuring your new ink heals quickly and retains its vibrant color and clarity. But with so many aftercare products and conflicting advice out there, how do you know the best way to care for new tattoos?

The short answer: Using a gentle balm and consistently moisturizing is key for protecting, healing, and enhancing new tattoos.

In this complete guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about using balm for new tattoo aftercare. You’ll learn tips on washing, moisturizing, what to expect during healing, and aftercare do’s and don’ts. We’ll also share the top-rated balms tattoo artists recommend for keeping new ink looking its best.

Why Proper Aftercare is Essential

Caring for your new tattoo isn’t just about keeping it clean. Aftercare is crucial for allowing the tattoo to heal properly, preventing infection and scarring, and helping the ink settle correctly under the skin.

When you get a tattoo, the artist is essentially creating an open wound on your skin by repeatedly piercing it with ink-filled needles. Your skin’s immune response kicks in to begin healing and closing the wound. At the same time, your skin needs to absorb the ink settled under the outer layer.

Proper cleaning and moisturizing supports this healing process and allows the ink to set and remain vibrant. Neglecting aftercare can lead to scabs forming over the ink, trapping the pigment underneath and causing the color to fade or blur.

So don’t just admire your new art – be sure to care for it! Follow these tips to ensure your fresh tattoo heals beautifully.

When to Start Aftercare

Don’t wait to start taking care of your new tattoo! Begin cleaning and moisturizing immediately after getting your new ink. After your session, your tattoo artist will clean and bandage the area.

Remove the bandage after 24 hours, then wash the tattoo 2-3 times per day with an antimicrobial soap and lukewarm water. Be sure to gently pat dry with a paper towel after – don’t rub the area. Allow your skin to air dry for 5-10 minutes before applying balm or moisturizer.

How to Clean a New Tattoo

Thorough but gentle washing is key during a new tattoo’s healing. Here are some tips:

  • Use an unscented, antimicrobial liquid soap to gently wash the area. Antimicrobial ingredients like chlorhexidine gluconate help prevent infection.
  • Apply a small amount of soap directly to the tattoo using freshly washed hands.
  • Gently wash using your hands only – do not use a washcloth, loofah, or scrubbing device.
  • Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water to remove all soap residue.
  • Pat dry with a clean paper towel. Don’t rub the area.
  • Repeat the washing process 2-3 times daily, especially after physical activity.

Only wash the immediate tattooed area during healing. Shower as normal but avoid directly washing the new ink. About 2-4 weeks after getting your tattoo, you can resume normal showering and bathing.

When to Apply Tattoo Balm

Moisturizing is just as crucial as washing during the healing process. Apply a thin layer of tattoo balm 2-3 times per day, especially after washing. This helps:

  • Soothe irritation, dryness, and itching
  • Keep the tattoo nourished, hydrated, and protected
  • Prevent scabbing and allow proper healing

After gently patting your new ink dry post-wash, allow the skin to air dry for 5-10 minutes before applying balm. This prevents trapping moisture against your skin.

Apply a super thin layer of balm just to the tattooed area using clean hands. Massage it in gently until absorbed – don’t rub harshly. Reapply after washing and as needed if skin feels dry.

The Best Tattoo Balms for Aftercare

With so many aftercare products available, which balm is right for your new tattoo? Here are top-rated, artist-recommended options:

  • Hustle Butter Deluxe – An extremely popular balm packed with moisturizing shea and cocoa butters, sunflower and rice bran oils, and vitamins. It’s vegan and uses natural ingredients.
  • After Inked Tattoo Moisturizer and Aftercare Lotion – This lightweight, non-greasy lotion contains soothing aloe vera and shea butter to hydrate skin. Fragrance-free and vegan.
  • H2Ocean Blue Green Foam Soap – A antimicrobial soap that contains tea tree oil and aloe vera for gentle cleaning. Vegan and cruelty-free.
  • Tattoo Goo Original Aftercare Salve – Free of lanolin, petroleum, and parabens. Relies on natural oils for deep moisturizing.
  • Lubriderm Daily Moisture Lotion – A dermatologist-recommended, frangrance-free body lotion that hydrates dry skin. Good for mild tattoos.

No matter which balm you choose, look for fragrance-free options free of harsh chemicals. Simple, nourishing ingredients are best for calming sensitive post-tattoo skin.

What to Expect During Tattoo Healing

The healing process is different for everyone based on your skin type, tattoo size and location, and aftercare routine. But here’s an approximate timeline of what to expect:

Days 1-2: Swelling, redness, and soreness are normal. There may be some minor plasma or ink oozing. Keep it clean and moisturized.

Days 3-10: Peeling and flaking occur as the top layer regenerates. Gently wash off loose skin. Don’t pick at it! The tattoo will feel dry and tight. Continue applying balm.

Days 10-20: Itching increases as skin advances through the healing phases. Scabbing and dryness also peaks during this time. Do NOT scratch or pick at scabs! Keep moisturizing.

Weeks 3-4: Most of the itching, scabbing, and peeling subsides. The tattooed area may feel leathery. If cared for properly, your ink should appear vibrant and healed.

Tattoo Aftercare Do’s and Don’ts

Follow these do’s and don’ts for the first 2-4 weeks while your new tattoo heals:


  • Wash the tattoo 2-3 times daily with mild soap.
  • Gently pat dry and allow the skin to air dry before applying balm.
  • Apply a very thin layer of fragrance-free balm after air drying.
  • Drink lots of water and get plenty of rest.
  • Wear loose, breathable clothing that won’t stick to the tattoo.


  • Soak in baths, pools, or hot tubs.
  • Pick scabs or peel skin – let them come off naturally.
  • Use abrasive brushes, towels, or sponges on the tattoo.
  • Apply too much balm so the tattoo is heavily greased.
  • Scratch or touch the tattoo unnecessarily.
  • Wear tight clothing over the tattoo.
  • Exercise and sweat excessively before the tattoo fully closes.

2024 Update: Using Tattoo Balm for Aftercare

Using a gentle balm remains one of the best ways to moisturize and protect new tattoos in 2024. Advances in natural ingredients have led to newer balms that soothe, heal, and hydrate better than ever. One trend is toward vegan balms that use plant-based oils and butters instead of lanolin or beeswax. These cruelty-free options are just as effective. Look for balms with shea butter, coconut oil, sunflower oil, vitamin E, and aloe vera.

Another development is balms containing skin-friendly superfoods and antioxidants. Ingredients like green tea, blueberry extract, and avocado oil provide extra nourishing benefits for new tattoo aftercare. Tattoo artists also recommend opting for balms without harsh chemicals or artificial fragrances. Simple, nourishing balms made with recognizable ingredients are ideal for freshly tattooed skin.

The healing timeline and aftercare tips still apply. But choosing a high-quality balm with skin-nourishing ingredients can optimize the process. Follow the aftercare guidance above and select a high-quality balm to ensure your new ink looks amazing.


With proper cleansing, moisturizing, and balm application, you can help your new tattoo heal beautifully. Taking care of your fresh ink isn’t difficult, but it does require diligence and patience. Avoid picking and scratching, keep it clean and hydrated, and let the balm work its magic.

Within 2-4 weeks, your hard work will pay off when your vibrant tattoo is healed and ready to show off! Just be sure to continue applying sunscreen and moisturizing it long-term. With proper aftercare, your new tattoo will remain eye-catching for years to come.

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