Should I Moisturize My Tattoo While It’s Peeling?

The steps for taking care of a new tattoo are pretty universal. Still, some artists may give slightly differing instructions, or some people who get tattooed regularly may find that their bodies heal a little differently. Whatever the situation, it is always good to double-check what to do while your tattoo is healing. This brings us to a common question; should you moisturize a tattoo while it’s peeling?

Peeling is a regular part of the healing process for tattoos. It is crucial that you moisturize a tattoo while it is peeling. Healing ointments or lotions recommended by your artist will keep the skin from drying out and cracking, in addition to keeping the peeling to a minimum.

Peeling is an essential step in the tattoo healing routine; thus, it is essential that if your tattoo is peeling, you are taking care of it to the best of your abilities. Moisturizing is crucial in this process; however, some people opt to use a dry-healing method.

Should I Moisturize My Tattoo While It’s Peeling?

The healing process can sometimes seem a little scary or strange at first, but it is easy to adjust to. One of the critical parts of the tattoo healing process is peeling – although it doesn’t always happen, and that’s okay too. You may be a little apprehensive about what to do when your tattoo starts to peel, but it doesn’t require any different treatment than usual aftercare.

Peeling In The Healing Process

If you are new to having tattoos, you will undoubtedly freak out a little when you see chunks of your new ink flake and peel off your skin. But there’s no need to worry – peeling is expected and a sign that your tattoo is healing properly.

However, don’t fret if your skin doesn’t peel. Everyone’s skin heals in its unique way and following its own timeline. Many factors can determine whether your skin will peel or not, such as your skin type, the depth of needle penetration, or the type of line work.

Why Do Tattoos Peel?

Getting a tattoo is a traumatic experience for your skin; thus, your body will react accordingly.

  • Tattoos break and penetrate the top and middle layers of skin, causing trauma to the skin barrier and shocking the skin cells.
  • The body responds almost immediately upon penetration. Starting with forming a mesh of platelets to avoid the loss of body fluids.
  • A new tattoo will often swell or raise the skin. The body will create a thin scab to protect the new growing cells. The scab will naturally flake off to reveal the new, healed skin.

You must allow the scab to come off on its own. Picking at the scab can result in your tattoo appearing patchy, distorted, and faded.

What To Do And What Not To Do When Your Tattoo Starts Peeling

Aftercare is quite simple; once the bandaging is removed, you need to wash your tattoo twice a day with antibacterial and unscented soap to keep it clean and moisturize it afterward – in addition to a few other necessary steps and precautions.

Don’t let the peeling scare you away from properly caring for your tattoo. Here is what you need to do when your tattoo is peeling:

  • Clean the Tattoo – Keep washing and caring for your tattoo as instructed. You still need to prevent any bacterial or other build-ups on your skin so the tattoo can heal.
  • Moisturize – Moisturizing is vital for taking care of a peeling tattoo. It keeps your skin from drying out and cracking and helps keep the peeling at a minimum.
  • Let it Fall Naturally – The skin will peel and fall off on its own when it is ready. Interfering by scratching off the skin will damage and distort your tattoo.

Be careful of the kind of ointments and lotions you use. Some creams and lotions contain artificial ingredients which can irritate your skin and cause a reaction that interferes with the healing process. This is why it is best to use brands recommended by your artist.

Furthermore, there are a few big no-no’s to keep in mind while your tattoo is healing:

  • Don’t Pick or Peel – Unless you want a flaky and dull tattoo, do not pick or scratch at the peel. The scabs need to fall on their own.
  • Don’t Shave or Wax – Using a razor or wax on the skin trying to recover through peeling can seriously damage your skin and distort the tattoo.
  • Don’t Rub the Tattoo – You shouldn’t rub your tattoo – with anything. Wearing loose clothes is recommended to keep the material from irritating the skin. If the area is wet, dab dry it to avoid pulling off the scab layer.
  • Don’t Soak the Tattoo – For the first few weeks, treat your tattoo like a new piercing. It shouldn’t be soaked or kept underwater for long.

What Is The Dry-Healing Method?

Essentially, dry-healing follows the same aftercare steps you should take after getting a new tattoo, with the only difference being that you don’t use ointments or creams, instead just letting it heal in the open air.

Moisturizing Vs. Dry-Healing Your Tattoos

Ultimately, there are benefits and problems with both the dry-healing method and using moisturizers.

MoisturizingDry-Healing
Wrong products can result in a reaction that slows the healing process.No products used.
Limits amount of cracking and peeling.Excess cracking and scabbing can occur.
Lubricates skin and eases any itching sensations.It can result in a very itchy or burning feeling due to the dryness of the skin.

Having said this, different skin types will heal better with different methods. If you have relatively dry skin, then it may be best you follow the moisturizing approach, and if you have more oily skin, then the dry method may be better suited for you.

Conclusion

Although moisturizing a peeling tattoo is the recommended action, whether you choose to moisturize or use the dry-healing method is up to you. Discuss your options with your artist to determine which may work best for you. Additionally, if you see that one method isn’t working well, feel free to switch over and try the other.

Some of my favorite designs, tattoo books, and aftercare products, selected for you

working on tattoo at my studio
Working at the studio on one of my projects

Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.

Design and tattoo ideas

For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):

Tattoo meaning

If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).

Tattoo aftercare

The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):

References

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