Beauty

Real Talk: Is It OK To Take A Bath After Getting A Tattoo?

The answer may disappoint you.

How Long After A Tattoo Can You Take A Bath? Experts say to wait at least two to three weeks.
Westend61/Westend61/Getty Images
Updated: 
Originally Published: 

Getting a tattoo is a pretty big decision, and nothing is more crucial in determining how well it will turn out than proper aftercare. If you're both a lover of tattoos and baths and find yourself wondering, "How long after a tattoo can you take a bath?" the answer might not be your favorite. But as long as you keep your eyes on the prize and focus more on doing everything possible to make sure your tattoo heals properly, small tweaks in your beauty routine will be well worth it.

Though you most definitely can still take showers and stay clean, you’ll want to avoid taking a bath after a tattoo appointment. The artists at Studio 8 in Houston, Texas explained, "Fully submerging your tattoo for any extended period of time into a body of water like a hot tub or bath will often cause serious damage. Make sure you avoid both for about two to three weeks after getting your new tattoo."

As for taking a shower, the artists at Living Canvas Tattoo in Columbia, MO advised using "a mild, fragrance-free soap (Dove, Dial, and Neutrogena) [to] gently wash all excess blood, ointment, ink, and plasma from your tattoo. [But] do not use a washcloth or loofah as they can harbor bacteria."

Skipping bubble baths for two weeks and swapping them for short, gentle showers doesn't sound so bad, right? Don't forget to follow the other tips below, too.

1. Talk To Your Tattoo Artist Before You Leave

Depending on the kind of tattoo you've gotten, your artist might have very specific aftercare tips. Definitely be sure to ask them for any healing techniques you need to follow.

2. Keep It Dry

Shutterstock

When getting a brand new tattoo, it’s important to keep it dry. Board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine Dr. Jeanette Graf, M.D. recommends keeping dry for at least two weeks for the ink to set and the skin to fully heal.

But no need to panic if it gets a little wet. Graf says if you need to wash it, make sure you can use an antibacterial soap with lukewarm water.

3. Wash With Mild Soap

When it comes to showering or taking a bath after you get a new tattoo, it's best to ask your tattoo artist. Their answer will probably depend on how they bandage your new ink.

"If you get Saniderm or Tegiderm, then you can shower immediately. This type of covering is waterproof,” Ann Arbor tattoo artist Carrie Metz-Caporusso once told Bustle. If you get a classic bandage or cling wrap, then you must wait anywhere from two to 12 hours, depending on what your artist recommends. After you take that off, you can shower anytime."

Just as Graf suggested above, you’ll want to use a mild, fragrance-free, and anti-bacterial soap if you do wash your new tattoo.

4. Leave The Bandage On

When you get a new tattoo, it will be bandaged up. How long you’re supposed to keep the bandage on depends on what type of tattoo you get and as Metz-Caporuso mentioned earlier, the type of bandage you get determines when you can get it wet.

But regardless of all those variables, remember that a tattoo is an open wound and you’ll want to follow your tattoo artists’ after-care tips and keep that bandage on as long as you need to.

5. Wash Your Hands Before Any Care

In general, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that washing hands is one of the most important steps to take to not spread germs and prevent getting sick.

That being said, a new tattoo is an open wound and susceptible to getting infected if not taken care of properly. So wash those hands thoroughly before going touching it.

6. Keep It Hydrated

Keeping your tattoo hydrated during the first few days is crucial. Brooklyn-based tattoo artist John O'Hara once recommended applying Aquaphor to hydrate the skin and create a protective barrier against infection.

"The key is to apply a very thin layer, let the skin absorb the Aquaphor for about 10-15 seconds, and blot off the excess with a sanitary paper towel," O'Hara told Bustle. "This will give you the right amount."

7. Don't Pick Flakes

Scabbing is normal and a sign that your tattoo is healing properly. No matter what, fight the urge to itch it. Dr. Graf says that if you scratch it, the ink might rub off and it will irritate the skin. So resist the urge to itch; the short-term satisfaction is so not worth the long-term harmful effect.

8. Wear Clean Clothing

Just got a fresh sleeve tattoo? Your sweaty gym hoodie isn't the ideal thing to wear over it. Since you really do essentially have an open wound on your body, only wear freshly laundered and clean clothing to avoid infection.

This article was originally published on