4 Skin Care Tips for Tattooed Skin

Learn how to keep your ink looking vibrant years after you get a tattoo.

Updated December 8, 2022
Woman wearing a towel applying moisturizer at home

Tattoo care is a lifetime commitment. It might be the furthest thing from your mind when you make a decision to get inked, but that new tat will be with you for years to come. To keep it looking good, you'll need to keep your skin healthy.

There are general tips you can use to keep all of your skin resilient and strong. But you can also learn important skin care techniques for your tattoo that go beyond basic aftercare instructions. Your tattoo will thank you for years to come!

Skin Care for Tattooed Skin

Caring for your tattoo doesn't stop the moment it's finally healed. Caring for tattoos is a long-term commitment if you want to keep your designs vibrant and looking as good as the day you left the tattoo parlor. Keep these tips in mind to keep your ink and skin looking fresh.


Lotion isn't just good for your tattoos, it's great for your skin. Dry, flaky skin doesn't look good - whether it is inked or not. Try these steps to keep your tat moisturized and vibrant, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

  • Apply a small amount of a color-free, scent-free moisturizing lotion to the area. You can also use a lotion specific to new and healing tattoos, like Tattoo Goo. Or you can ask your artist for a recommendation.
  • Avoid petroleum-based products since they can leach color.
  • No matter which lotion or ointment you use, apply it sparingly.
  • Pat any extra lotion with a soft tissue.
Woman applying cream onto tattoo on her skin

Avoid the Sun or Use Protection

Moisture is important, but so is steering clear of the sun. The sun can actually bleach the color of your tattoo, no matter how old it is, according to AAD.

  • Apply a thin layer of SPF 30 or more sunblock lotion over the tattoo and reapply often.
  • Wear a light garment over your tattoo for even better protection. Go ahead and combine this effort with the sunblock.
  • Avoid tanning beds. UV rays can fade tattoos.
  • Never forget to apply sunblock to a tattoo of any age. Even seasoned tattoos can be affected by the sun, and a sunburn can cause peeling and scarring, neither of which are any good for the look of your tat.

Address Age-Related Changes

Aging skin can change the look of your tattoo. As great as any fresh tattoo looks, the clock is ticking from the moment you get it. As people age, their tats age right along with them. To keep your body art looking its best:

  • Moisturize often. Older skin tends to be drier than it was during youth, so regular moisturizing can keep your tattoo from looking tired.
  • Stay healthy. Weight gain, loss of body tone, and even dramatic weight loss all alter your body shape. Such changes can have a direct effect on the look of your tattoo.
  • Watch for skin changes. The AAD notes that ink reactions can happen years after getting a tattoo. It can also be a sign of a skin condition, so reach out to your provider if you have concerns.

Think of your body as the canvas for your tattoo. Eat right, get moderate exercise, and get plenty of rest. Keeping yourself in shape gives you a better chance of keeping your tat in shape too.

Refresh Your Color

Nearly all tattoos fade a bit from that first brilliant color they had when they were fresh. This is natural as your body's immune system tries to break down the "foreign" material of the ink and flush it out of your system. It may be necessary to visit your artist and have the color enhanced with fresh ink from time to time. If you do this, all the rules of caring for a fresh tattoo apply.

Following these tattoo skin care tips will help keep your ink clean, protected, and moisturized to preserve your body art. But if your skin begins to show any signs of infection, don't hesitate to visit your healthcare provider. And if you feel inspired to get a new design, reach out to your local artist to enhance what you have.

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4 Skin Care Tips for Tattooed Skin