Getting a new tattoo is an exciting experience. But caring for it properly during the healing process is crucial. One common question many new tattoo owners have is when can I start using scented lotion on my new ink?
Using fragranced moisturizers too early can lead to irritation, infection, and poor healing. But at the right time, scented lotions can provide much-needed hydration to keep your tattoo looking vibrant.
In this article, we’ll explore the stages of tattoo healing, when it’s safe to use scented moisturizers, and tips for choosing the best lotions. We’ll also provide guidance on proper tattoo aftercare for the long run.
The Healing Stages of a New Tattoo
A new tattoo goes through several phases as the skin repairs itself. Knowing what to expect helps you care for it properly during the healing process.
Weeping/Oozing Phase (Days 1-2)
In the first couple days after getting inked, you’ll notice clear fluid leaking from the tattoo. This plasma, lymph fluid, and excess ink is the body’s reaction to the tattooing trauma.
Keep the tattoo covered during this weeping phase and avoid scented lotions that can introduce bacteria. Gently clean the tattoo 2-3 times a day with a fragrance-free antimicrobial soap. Apply a thin layer of unscented moisturizer to prevent scabbing.
Peeling Phase (Days 3-4)
Next comes the peeling and flaking as the top layer of damaged skin starts shedding. Gently wash and moisturize the tattoo 2-3 times a day to hydrate the peeling skin. Do not pick at any flakes, as this can pull out ink and lead to patchiness.
Itching Phase (Days 5-14)
As your tattoo continues to heal underneath the skin, you may feel an annoying itching sensation around days 5-14. Resist the urge to scratch, as scratching can damage the tattoo. For itch relief, use an anti-itch ointment.
Maturing Phase (Weeks 2-6)
For the next several weeks, your tattoo will start to “mature” and settle into the skin. The appearance may be slightly cloudy during this phase. Gradually, the cloudiness will dissipate as your artist originally intended.
It takes 2-6 weeks for a tattoo to fully heal. Once the skin has closed over, you have entered the maturing phase when pigment gets locked in. At this point, you can start using scented moisturizers.
Dangers of Using Scented Lotion Too Early
Using scented lotions or creams on a new healing tattoo can lead to complications. Here’s why it’s best to wait:
- Fragrances – Perfumes and fragrances contain chemicals that can severely irritate and inflame open wounds and fresh tattoos. This leads to discomfort and skin reactions.
- Alcohols – Many scented moisturizers contain drying forms of alcohol that can seep into wounds. This risks dehydrating the skin and delaying healing.
- Dyes – The dyes that give lotions their colors contain chemicals that aren’t meant for broken skin. They can cause unwanted interactions and allergic reactions.
- Infection – Applying scented lotions to unhealed, weeping skin introduces bacteria right into the wound. This hugely raises the risk of infection which leads to contamination of the tattoo. Signs of infection include yellow discharge, redness, and swollen lymph nodes.
By waiting until the tattoo fully closes, you avoid these risks of irritation, poor healing, infection, and loss of pigment. Patience is key!
When to Start Using Scented Lotion on a New Tattoo
Here are general guidelines for when it’s safe to start using scented moisturizers:
- Consult with your artist first. Some advise waiting 3-4 weeks until the tattoo is fully healed before using scented lotions. Others may recommend 2 weeks.
- Wait until the skin has fully closed over and entered the maturing phase. No more glossy appearance or plasma oozing from the tattoo.
- Make sure any scabbing/peeling has completed flaked off and the tattoo is smooth and even.
- Look for signs that the top layer of skin has sealed over the tattoo: no leakage, inflammation, or cloudy appearance.
The timing ranges between 2-6 weeks depending on your body, tattoo size, artist guidelines, and how quickly you heal. Larger or more detailed tattoos take longer than simpler designs.
When in doubt, wait it out. Delaying scented lotions is far better than risking poor healing or infection. Be patient during these crucial first weeks!
Tips for Using Scented Lotions on Healed Tattoos
Once your tattoo artist confirms the skin has properly closed up, you can start incorporating scented moisturizers into your healed tattoo care routine. Here are some tips:
- Patch test first – Apply a small amount of scented lotion to an inconspicuous spot to test for sensitivity or reaction.
- Use gentle, hydrating formulas – Seek out scented lotions free of harsh ingredients like alcohol that hydrate skin without irritation.
- Limit fragrance – Opt for mildly scented lotions first, rather than super strong perfumes that can still aggravate healed skin.
- Moisturize twice daily – Apply scented cream morning and night to keep your tattoo well-hydrated.
- Watch for irritation – Discontinue use if you notice any redness, itching, or swelling after applying a scented lotion.
- Avoid over-moisturizing – Let your skin absorb each application fully before reapplying to prevent excess greasiness.
With some care in choosing scented lotions and using them sparingly at first, you can keep your healed tattoo looking vibrant and fresh.
Caring for Your Tattoo Long-Term
Getting used to a proper tattoo aftercare routine helps ensure your ink stays looking awesome for years to come. Here are some long-term care tips:
- Moisturize daily – Keep skin hydrated with fragrance-free, anti-aging creams to prevent fading and drying out of the pigment.
- Protect from sun – Use broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen to shield tattoos from sun damage and fading. Reapply often.
- Avoid abrasion – Don’t scrub or pick at tattoos to prevent scabbing and loss of color.
- Clean gently – Use mild soaps without dyes or fragrances that can irritate or dry out tattooed skin.
- Get a touch up – Most tattoos need atouch up session 4-6 weeks after initial inking to maximize color vibrancy.
- Listen to your body – If your tattoo ever becomes painful, changes color or shape, see your dermatologist to rule out infection.
- Removal properly – Consult a dermatologist if you ever wish to remove a tattoo to avoid scarring.
By being attentive to your tattooed skin and treating it gently but consistently, you’ll be inked for life!
When in Doubt, Ask Your Artist
Wondering when can I put scented lotion on my new tattoo? Always consult your tattoo artist first during the healing process. Follow their recommendations on when it’s safe to graduate to fragranced moisturizers.
Each tattoo and every body heals differently. With proper aftercare and patience in the first few weeks, you’ll have a vibrant, beautiful tattoo free of irritation. And you can soon enjoy some sweet-smelling lotions to show off your new ink!