New Tattoo Care Hack: Using Emu Oil
While a new tattoo holds real sentimental value, it’s still classified as a wound. Why? Because a tattoo gun uses a fast-moving needle to inject ink deep into the skin.
So how do you look after this beautifully delicate, “self-inflicted” wound?
It’s all in the aftercare — a process that can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your very first tattoo.
But we’ve got you covered.
In this guide, we provide step-by-step instructions on how to care for a new tattoo in the very first week — the most crucial period.
Not only that, but we also share tips to help you heal and keep your tattoo looking fresh using emu oil.
"A friend of mine recommended that I try emu oil for my next tattoo. I had used Aquaphor for all my previous pieces without issue, so I was skeptical at first, but I gave it a shot.
I was impressed at how much faster my new (big!) tattoo healed compared to all the previous work I've gotten done.
Using emu oil not only sped up the healing process, but it reduced most of the normal post-tattooing redness and tenderness practically overnight. I'm definitely going to be using emu oil for all my future tattoos."
New Tattoo Aftercare Instructions
The Initial Bandage
Tattoo aftercare starts in the shop. Once your tattoo artist is finished, they’ll:
- Apply a thin layer of tattoo jelly over the entire tattooed area.
- Cover the area entirely with a plastic wrap or bandage.
We know what you’re thinking: “It’s so beautiful, look at it! I just wish I could touch it.”
But as tempting as it can be to remove the covering, it needs to stay on for at least a few hours following application.
This is important because it protects the open wound from:
- Rubbing against clothing
The waiting period may vary, so to be on the safe side, ask your tattoo artist how long to wait for your specific tattoo type and size.
Note that your tattooed skin may feel warm and show some redness in the first couple of days.
The colors may also appear very bright against the rest of the skin, but they’ll become less vibrant as the healing process continues.
So you’re back home and it’s been at least 2 hours since your tattoo was covered. It’s now safe to remove the bandage.
- After thorough hand-washing, reach for hypoallergenic soap and warm water, then use your fingers to gently wash your tattoo.
- The moisturizer’s initial layer on the skin will come off and the tattoo may appear to be oozing ink or a thick, sticky substance. Rest assured, it’s only the excess ink and fluid from the tattoo process.
- After washing, pat the skin using a clean paper towel and let it air-dry for up to an hour.
- When fully dry, apply a small amount of emu oil to the tattooed area, then leave it uncovered.
Scabs will continue to form in the first few days and ink may still come up through the skin, so stick to this washing routine twice daily throughout the first week.
However, this routine isn’t cast in stone as your washing frequency depends on your activity levels and environment.
For instance, someone sitting in an air-conditioned office all day may only need to wash the tattoo once a day.
But someone working in a hot or dirty environment may need to wash the tattoo every few hours if they’re sweating profusely.
The procedure is straightforward: clean hands, warm water, antibacterial soap, and moisturizer like emu oil.
Why emu oil?
Emu oil contains high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids that make it easy for the oil to penetrate the skin.
In fact, in a study on using emu products as alternative medicine, researchers noticed a significant reduction in inflammation in subjects with carrageenan-induced arthritis.
Therefore, they concluded that emu oil’s skin permeation properties could be exploited to enhance the delivery of drugs through the skin.
These effects explain why emu oil moisturizes and rejuvenates the skin so effectively, as this happy customer can attest to.
“This oil is gorgeous and absorbs beautifully. So deeply moisturizing. This and Squalane are all I need. I also love that emu oil is a highly effective penetration enhancer. Everything that I apply underneath penetrates better. Try it on your lips!! I have no desire to try a different emu oil. I also find this affordable given the quality. ❤️ - Labellavita1985 ”
Days 2 to 3
By this time, your tattoo will have a duller, cloudier appearance because your skin is healing — which spells more scabs for you.
Simply keep washing your tattoo twice a day and applying emu oil, as it’s perfect for wound healing.
Research shows that emu oil increases collagen production, which is crucial in helping skin wounds heal quickly.
Not only that, but it also increases the number of hair follicles in the margins of the wound, so you’ll look as good as new in no time.
“This is good healing oil. I burned myself and it's helping to heal it much quicker.” - Joy
Days 4 to 6
As your tattoo heals, you’ll probably notice some light scabbing over the tattoo. The scabs shouldn’t be as thick as the scabs you get when you cut yourself, but they’ll be slightly raised.
No matter what, don’t pick at the scabs to avoid scarring.
At this point, the redness should start to fade, and better yet, emu oil can help to reduce inflammation.
Emu oil contains oleic acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, and palmitoleic acid — chemicals that are highly effective in treating skin inflammation.
In fact, during one study, patients experienced less itching in as little as 15 days of treatment.
It gets better; at 30 days, redness, dryness, and swelling had improved in the participants using emu oil.
“I was told that Emu Oil was a great alternative to traditional moisturizers for someone with very sensitive skin, so I thought I would give this a try.
I've been using this product for just over a week now and my skin feels soft and refreshed, and the redness I normally suffer from seems to be dissipating. I'm definitely a convert now - love this product!” - Jessred
Frequently Asked Questions on the Tattoo Healing Process
What to Avoid After Getting a Tattoo?
Take care of your tattoo during the healing process by avoiding the following:
- Covering your new tattoo once the bandage comes off because tattoos need breathing room.
- Soaps and aftercare ointments with fragrance or harsh chemicals.
- Scratching or touching your tattoo — remember, it’s still an open wound so picking at the scabs can cause scar tissue to form.
- Petroleum-based moisturizers, which clog the pores.
- Exposing the tattoo to direct sunlight and applying sunscreen until it has fully healed.
- Swimming, soaking, or going to the sauna for at least 6 weeks after your tattoo. That may be easier said than done, but wet tattoos don’t heal properly.
Large water bodies aside, don’t place your new tattoo directly under running water.
How Long Do You Need to Care for a New Tattoo?
Once you get a tattoo, the outer layer of skin (which is visible to you) typically heals within 2 to 3 weeks.
Yes, your tattoo may appear healed but keep up with your aftercare routine for at least 6 months — that’s about how long it takes the skin beneath your tattoo to heal.
That said, the skin around more prominent tattoos takes longer to recover, and picking at the scabs or not moisturizing stretches out the healing time.
So patience is the name of the game here.
How Do You Take Care of a New Tattoo at Night?
- Use bed sheets you’re comfortable getting ink on. Also, regularly change the sheets to protect your tattoo from germs, sweat, and bacteria that may have accumulated.
- In case your tattoo gets stuck to the sheet during the night, wet the sheet’s fabric before pulling it off. It’s easy; carry the sheet with you to the tap and lightly stream warm water over the stuck area until it loosens.
"I've been applying emu oil to my new tattoo for over a month now, well after the healing process has ended. I couldn't be happier with how clean the lines look and how bright and colorful the tattoo has remained, not to mention how soft and healthy my skin feels."