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Your Frequently Asked Questions about Tattoo Healing — Answered

Because we’re a skincare company for the tattooed, we often get questions about the tattoo healing process. A tattoo is essentially an open wound, and but it’s a little different in the sense that this particular wound was most likely expensive, plus there’s ink in the wound, and we want that ink to stay put, heal beautifully and ensure both our investment and our skin is protected.

Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to healing. And as you’re reading please note that if you have a question or concern about your healing tattoo, listen to your artist, or consult with a medical professional to ensure you’re getting the best advice for your healing ink.

How long does it take a tattoo to heal?

It depends on the person and the location of the tattoo. Sometimes a tattoo can look healed on the surface but the layers under the skin are still being repaired. Two months is on the longer spectrum of healing time by most standards, but it’s a good rule of thumb to make extra sure your skin has fully healed — we say this because products with SPF can irritate healing skin, so the two-month mark is a good rule of thumb to be extra-sure your skin has fully recovered. 

My tattoo is peeling and itching. Is that normal? 

Yes! It’s perfectly normal for a tattoo to peel like a sunburn — and itch like a sunburn. Make sure you resist the temptation to scratch or peel off the skin as that can pull out your ink. Rather, let the skin flake off on its own. To help with this maddeningly itchy, peeling phase, our Tattoo Goo Lotion has an ingredient called Panthenol that helps relieve the itch. You can learn more about our lotion here.

The skin that is peeling is colored like the tattoo—is my tattoo coming off?

No, this is a natural part of a healing tattoo. The top layer of dead skin has been colored or dyed during the tattooing process. That outer layer will fall off revealing the fresh skin underneath.

My tattoo looks like it’s fading. Is that normal?

A tattoo is VERY bright when it is first completed but during the healing process, it starts to look discolored and dull. Don’t worry, when the tattoo is finished healing, the color will come back.

My tattoo is scabbing. Is that normal? 

Yes! Scabbing is typically normal and happens during the healing process of a tattoo. Just like any open wound, your body is creating its natural defense to guard it against infection while the skin underneath repairs itself. If the skin does scab, it’s very important that you don’t pick or pull at the scabs since that can pull out your ink and in some extreme cases, lead to scarring.

What causes scabbing with a tattoo?

Like with any open wound, your body responds by producing plasma 

A lack of moisture can also cause scabbing. The philosophy behind all Tattoo Goo products revolves around the importance of replacing the moisture that’s lost in the skin during the tattooing process. By doing this, it can help prevent scabbing as well as speed up healing time.

My tattoo seems to be losing ink. It is runny, wet and it looks like the ink is coming out. What should I do?

It sounds like the tattoo is leaching. When too much aftercare is applied, the body will naturally try to push whatever is on top off so it can breathe. Wash the tattoo off and pat it dry. Do not put anything on it for one day. After that, start using Tattoo Goo® Lotion around three times a day—be sure not to over apply. Continue using the lotion until it heals completely. It may scab a bit, but do not pick the scabs—let them fall off naturally.

Can I wash my tattoo?

Yes, you should wash your tattoo 2-3 times a day with a product such as Tattoo Goo® Deep Cleansing Soap. Do not use a washcloth, use only your hands, gently wash off the tattoo and pat it dry. Let it air dry for 10-15 minutes before applying aftercare. It is important that it is completely dry before applying aftercare. Do not soak the tattoo in water, swim, etc. until the tattoo is completely healed.

Should I re-bandage my tattoo?

No, once you’ve taken off the original bandage, you should not re-bandage your tattoo. The tattooed skin needs to breathe in order to heal faster and more effectively.

Can I use sunscreen on my tattoo while it is healing?

Sunscreen should not be used on a healing tattoo as it has many chemicals that can cause adverse reactions. You should keep the tattoo out of the sun until it is completely healed. Most artists recommend two weeks or more. After it is healed, you should always use sunscreen, such as Tattoo Goo Renew® SPF 50+ if your tattoo is going to be exposed. Tattoo Goo® Salve and Lotion contain no sunscreen.

Hopefully this provides some decent guidelines for those of you with healing tattoos. Of course as with any healing wound, if you have questions or especially concerns with anything during the healing process, it’s very important to seek medical advice from your doctor to ensure your tattoo is healing properly.