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Easing the Tattoo Healing Process Using Emu Oil

tattoo healing process

If you’re like Sylvia Plath, who said, “Wear your heart on your skin in this life,” you definitely take tattoos seriously. You should. After all, getting a tattoo is a medical procedure.

A new tattoo is an open wound that takes months to fully heal. The final look and feel of your tattoo depends on how well you follow the aftercare steps.

Whether this is your first foray into body art or you’re a tattoo veteran with a full sleeve, you need to know about the best-kept secret for tattoo healing — 100% pure emu oil.

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Why Should You Use Emu Oil to Heal Your Tattoo?

Emu Joy emu oil
Emu Joy Emu Oil

Emu Oil Has the Right Combination of Oils

The molecular composition of emu oil is very similar to the oils on human skin. It contains omega 3, 5, 6, 7, and 9.

These omega compounds are essential fatty acids (EFAs) for your skin. Essential meaning that although your skin can’t manufacture them, they are necessary to its daily function, which includes:

  • Creating protective barriers
  • Staying moisturized 
  • Generating new skin cells 
  • Having a functioning immune system.

That’s a winning combination for the ideal tattoo aftercare product.

Emu Oil Is Easily Absorbed by the Skin

Oleic acid (omega 9) is the most abundant fatty acid in emu oil. This superstar omega-9 hydrates the skin and penetrates it deeply.

Here’s the interesting part: this oil acts as a carrier oil, transporting any other oils or nutrients combined with it deep into the skin.

The catch is, you have to use high-quality, fully refined, and certified emu oil to ensure that your sensitive, fresh tattoo is not absorbing toxins or vegetable oil.

No Synthetic Additives

Popular tattoo aftercare products often include petrolatum or mineral oil. These derivatives of crude oil create an occlusive barrier over the skin.

They trap everything in including all the fluids leaking out of your tattoo and prevent air and moisture from reaching your skin. 

Your healing tattoo should be moisturized — but not wet or overly dry.

As stated, emu oil is easily absorbed by the skin and provides a light, breathable protective layer on your tattoo.

Emu Oil Is Unscented

The emu oil by Emu Joy is fragrance-free. Moreover, properly refined emu oil has little, if any, scent of its own.

For sensitive skin, fragrances are the number one culprit behind irritation and dryness, and healing tattoos are the epitome of sensitive skin.

Many scents, including natural ones like lemon and rose, are astringent. They cause the skin to contract and can cause dryness.

Your tattoo needs all the oils it can get so that the scabs formed are light and your skin heals faster.

Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Properties

Your body treats a tattoo like an open wound and deploys your immune system to fight infection at the wound site. 

Inflammation or swelling and pain are a guaranteed effect of this immune response.

Omega-3 fatty acids are some of the most potent naturally-occurring, anti-inflammatory substances. Emu oil contains up to 2% linolenic acid, the parent omega-3.  

Though scientific studies into emu oil are ongoing, clinical trials have associated it with pain relief and reduction in skin irritation.

Take Mallory’s story, for example…

“I have been using this for roughly 3 weeks now and it is amazing. I purchased this emu oil to use for tattoo aftercare.

Within a couple of days, my tattoo is looking and feeling so much better. The irritation and scabbing all healed and it looks like a normal tattoo now. 

It's very soothing and moisturizing, my tattoo is no longer dry and itchy. I would recommend this to anyone with a tattoo in a sensitive place. I will be using this for aftercare in all my future tattoos.” - Mallory, Canada

Tattoo Healing Timeline

Stage One

Stage one of the tattoo recovery process is oozing, weeping, and redness in the first week.

Clean away the clear fluid and ink several times a day. Emu oil’s anti-inflammatory properties are great for reducing redness and easing the pain.

By day seven the fluid should have stopped seeping out. If the tattoo begins to ooze colored discharge, you should get it checked by a doctor.

Stage Two

Between days 7-14 of the healing process, the new skin grows over your tattoo. It’s very itchy at this point.

Tattoo artists recommend moisturizing with light, breathable products such as emu oil or emu oil cream whenever you feel like scratching.

An ice pack over your clothes can also help ease the itch.

Stage Three

From two to three weeks, the dead skin will start peeling. At this point, the two most important considerations are to moisturize and protect from direct sunlight as the tattoo heals.

Gently applying emu oil will help the skin peel off easily. Alternatively, you could buy emu oil cream if that formulation suits you better.

Stage Four and Aftercare

This healing stage should be a breeze if you have been following the proper steps. However, the tattoo will take months to fully heal through all the layers.

How to Use Emu Oil

Remember to follow the aftercare instructions of your tattoo artist. Here are the steps you can expect to follow in your tattoo healing process.

Remove Your Bandage

Get clear instructions on bandage removal from your tattoo artist. Don’t remove the bandage right away; your tattoo artist puts it on to protect from environmental pollutants.

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Standard cotton bandages should be removed two to four hours after your tattoo is applied. You should be in a clean environment.

If you have a clear adhesive bandage, it should stay on for two to five days. It’s waterproof and breathable. Remove it if its seal is compromised and it’s letting in water or letting out fluids.

Clean Your Tattoo Properly

Tattoos are open wounds. We cannot stress this enough. Always wash your hands before handling your tattoo. Keep your tattoo clean. 

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Proper cleaning will stave off infections and ensure your skin is breathing well enough to heal.

Use mild antibacterial soap to gently clean the tattoo until it doesn’t feel slimy. Use your fingers, not a washcloth or loofah. Ouch!

Pat dry with a paper towel. Cloth towels tend to carry bacteria. You don’t want to rub your tattoo dry and further irritate the skin.

Your tattoo may weep for the first two days. You should gently clean it several times a day.

Above all, you want to make sure your tattoo is dry before the next step.

Moisturize Your Tattoo With Emu Oil

When your new tattoo is clean and dry, apply a thin layer of emu oil.

Emu oil will give your skin all the hydrating, healing, and anti-inflammatory benefits it needs without suffocating your skin.

Remember: from day three of your tattoo procedure and up to one week after, the scabs will start forming. It’s an itchy process.

Resist the temptation to pick at  or scratch your scabs by reapplying a thin layer of emu oil. The oil will soothe the itch.

Tattoo Aftercare Do’s and Don’ts 

Your tattoo is only 1.5-2mm deep. You need to protect it until a new layer of skin can form and lock the new ink in. 


  • Moisturise frequently with emu oil, especially during week two of healing when the itching will be intense
  • Protect your tattoo from sun exposure for two to three weeks to avoid sunburns and ink fading
  • Wear loose clothing to avoid snagging your scabs
  • Use a high sun protection factor (SPF) when in the sun throughout the healing process
  • As with all skin products, do a patch test 48 hours before use


  • Scratch the peeling skin of your tattoo
  • Shower with hot water, swim or soak in a tub — it could leech away the ink
  • Pull out the scabs as it will cause scarring and a patchy tattoo

For a natural, hypoallergenic and moisturizing product for your healing tattoo, buy emu oil by Emu Joy. This product is fully refined, gluten-free, paraben-free, and certified by the American Emu Association.

Featured Image from:Flickr by Sarah-Rose

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