Getting a new tattoo is an exciting experience, but it comes with important aftercare instructions to ensure it heals properly. One of the most common questions people have after getting a tattoo is, “How long after a tattoo can you get it wet?” In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about keeping your new ink dry and when it’s safe to get it wet.

Understanding the Healing Process

Before we dive into when you can get your tattoo wet, it’s crucial to understand the healing process of a tattoo. A tattoo is essentially an open wound, and like any wound, it needs time to heal properly. The healing process can be broken down into several stages:

1. Initial Healing (Days 1-3)

Right after you get your tattoo, your skin will be red, swollen, and sensitive. This is the initial healing phase, where your body starts to repair the damage caused by the tattoo needle. During this period, it’s crucial to keep your tattoo dry and clean to prevent infection.

2. Scabbing and Peeling (Days 4-14)

As your tattoo begins to heal, it will start to form scabs and may peel. This is a natural part of the healing process, as your skin sheds dead cells. It’s essential to avoid picking at the scabs or peeling skin, as this can damage the tattoo and prolong the healing process.

3. Complete Healing (Weeks 3-6)

By this stage, most of the visible healing will be complete. Your tattoo may still feel slightly sensitive, and the skin may appear slightly shiny or waxy. However, the risk of infection decreases significantly.


When Can You Get Your Tattoo Wet?

Now that we have a basic understanding of the healing process, let’s address the main question: When can you get your tattoo wet?

First 24 Hours

In the first 24 hours after getting your tattoo, it’s crucial to keep it dry. Your tattoo artist will likely apply a protective bandage or wrap to your tattoo, which you should keep on for the recommended amount of time, usually a few hours. Once you remove the bandage, gently wash the tattoo with lukewarm water and a mild, fragrance-free soap. Pat it dry with a clean paper towel or allow it to air dry.

Avoiding Prolonged Water Exposure (First 2-3 Weeks)

For the first two to three weeks, you should avoid exposing your tattoo to prolonged water. This means no swimming, hot tubs, or baths. Showering is okay, but try to keep the tattoo out of direct water flow. If your tattoo does get wet in the shower, gently pat it dry with a clean towel.

Light Water Exposure (After 3 Weeks)

After the initial healing period, you can start to expose your tattoo to water more freely, but with caution. Short showers and light water exposure are generally safe, but it’s still important to avoid soaking your tattoo for extended periods. At this stage, swimming in chlorinated pools or saltwater is still not recommended.

Full Water Exposure (After 6 Weeks)

By the six-week mark, your tattoo should be fully healed, and you can resume all normal activities, including swimming and taking long baths. However, it’s always a good idea to keep your tattoo moisturized and protected from harsh chemicals and prolonged sun exposure to maintain its vibrancy.

Tips for Keeping Your Tattoo Dry

To ensure your tattoo heals properly, here are some practical tips for keeping it dry during the critical healing period:

1. Cover It Up

When showering, you can use a waterproof bandage or plastic wrap to cover your tattoo and keep it dry. Make sure the covering is secure but not too tight, as your tattoo needs to breathe.

2. Avoid Submersion

As tempting as it may be to take a long bath or go for a swim, avoid submerging your tattoo in water until it is fully healed. Prolonged exposure to water can soften the scabs and cause them to fall off prematurely, which can affect the final appearance of your tattoo.

3. Be Gentle

When washing your tattoo, use a mild, fragrance-free soap and lukewarm water. Gently pat it dry with a clean towel or allow it to air dry. Avoid rubbing the tattoo, as this can cause irritation.

4. Moisturize Appropriately

Keeping your tattoo moisturized is essential for the healing process. Use a fragrance-free, non-petroleum-based moisturizer recommended by your tattoo artist. Apply a thin layer to the tattoo several times a day to keep the skin hydrated.

5. Listen to Your Tattoo Artist

Your tattoo artist is the best source of advice for caring for your new tattoo. They have experience and knowledge about the healing process and can provide personalized tips for keeping your tattoo dry and healthy.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to tattoo aftercare, there are some common mistakes that people make. Here are a few to watch out for:

1. Over-Moisturizing

While it’s important to keep your tattoo moisturized, overdoing it can be detrimental. Applying too much moisturizer can suffocate the skin and delay the healing process. Use a thin layer and allow the skin to breathe.

2. Ignoring Signs of Infection

If you notice any signs of infection, such as excessive redness, swelling, or pus, seek medical attention immediately. Ignoring these signs can lead to serious complications and affect the appearance of your tattoo.

3. Exposing Your Tattoo to Sunlight

Direct sunlight can fade your tattoo and cause irritation, especially during the healing process. Keep your tattoo covered or apply a high-SPF sunscreen if you need to be outside.

4. Using Harsh Products

Avoid using harsh soaps, lotions, or ointments on your tattoo. Stick to mild, fragrance-free products recommended by your tattoo artist to prevent irritation and promote healing.

Long-Term Care for Your Tattoo

Once your tattoo is fully healed, it’s important to continue taking care of it to ensure it looks vibrant for years to come. Here are some long-term care tips:

1. Keep It Moisturized

Even after your tattoo has healed, keeping the skin moisturized is crucial. Use a good-quality, fragrance-free moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated and your tattoo looking fresh.

2. Protect It from the Sun

Sun exposure can cause your tattoo to fade over time. Always apply sunscreen with a high SPF to your tattooed skin when you’re going to be outside, even after the healing period.

3. Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water helps keep your skin healthy and hydrated, which in turn keeps your tattoo looking its best. Aim for at least eight glasses of water a day.

4. Avoid Harsh Chemicals

When cleaning your skin or using skincare products, avoid harsh chemicals that can irritate your tattoo. Opt for gentle, skin-friendly products to keep your tattoo vibrant.


Getting a new tattoo is an exciting experience, but proper aftercare is crucial to ensure it heals well and looks great for years to come. Keeping your tattoo dry during the initial healing period is essential to prevent infection and promote healing. By understanding the healing process, following aftercare instructions, and avoiding common mistakes, you can ensure your tattoo stays vibrant and healthy.

Remember to be patient and give your tattoo the time it needs to heal fully. Once it’s healed, continue to take care of your skin to maintain the beauty of your tattoo. Whether you’re a first-time tattoo recipient or adding to your collection, following these tips will help you enjoy your new ink for years to come.


Write A Comment