While dry healing a tattoo is a method preferred by a few individual tattoo artists and is a favored aftercare option on many tattoo forums, is it a safe or effective healing method for your tattoo?
We dive deep into the advantages and disadvantages of dry healing a tattoo and uncover whether it really is the best technique for your new ink.
Table of Contents (clickable)
Dry healing your tattoo is an aftercare method that excludes any of the moisturizing steps often used to prevent the cracking or peeling of your tattoo.
Dry healing still includes the necessary washing with soap and water, but any products afterward are eliminated from the aftercare process. No ointments, creams, or lotions are used and the tattoo is left to heal on its own accord.
Your artist will still bandage your tattoo after it is finished, but after that, it’s up to you to clean it and leave it untouched during a dry heal. While most people may use ointments in the first few days and may choose to begin a moisturization step after two or three days, people who are choosing to dry heal a tattoo will skip those steps and allow nature to take its (sometimes uncomfortable) course.
Those choosing to dry heal their tattoo often increase hydration to their skin through staying hydrated themselves by drinking water and avoiding alcohol or caffeine, and they protect their tattoos from environmental damages during the healing process through other means such as loose-fitting clothing.
With so many artists and websites advertising the importance of moisturizing your tattoo during its aftercare process, you may be wondering why people choose to dry heal their tattoo.
There are a few reasons why you may want to consider dry healing.
When you put a lotion or moisturizer on your skin, you risk a chance of irritation or having an allergic reaction. This could damage your tattoo during the healing process or even cause an infection.
Dry healing is a chemical-free process that will not cause you to have any adverse effects to ointments or moisturizers. Artificial ingredients such as alcohol, petroleum, or fragrances can all further irritate your sensitive skin and long-term usage could be detrimental to your ink.
If you are unsure about a product being truly “toxic-free” and safe for your tattoo, and you experience skin sensitivities, you may be considering dry healing. But it’s important to remember that there are all-natural moisturizing options available to you, as well.
We get it: tattoos are expensive and you want to find cost-saving alternatives to your aftercare process. Dry healing is definitely a way to avoid spending money on unnecessary aftercare products. You no longer have to invest time or finances into checking to make sure the product your tattoo artist recommends fits into your budget. As long as you are investing in a natural, fragrance-free soap, you’re good to go.
But it is important to remember that your tattoo is also a lifelong investment, and natural moisturizing products don’t often cost an arm and a leg.
Some people swear by the dry healing process. They say that leaving the area untouched allows them to heal quicker, they believe the upper epidermis will receive the most scabbing which is better for the ink below, and that it ensures that the last person who ever penetrated your skin was your artist, meaning no lotions are absorbing and doing damage to your ink.
This process is also easier to manage, so if routine care is difficult for you, so long as you are keeping the tattoo clean two to three times a day, you’re good to go.
Even if you follow all the proper cleansing aftercare for your tattoo, there are still some disadvantages to the dry healing method. Here are some reasons you may want to avoid this method:
While some people say that dry healing can lead to surface scabs, thereby leaving your ink untouched, others say the opposite.
By letting your tattoo excessively dry out, you may risk your scab going into your layer of skin where the ink is settled, and what this means is that should the scabs fall off, they could take ink with them. This could leave you with faded or discolored tattoos, or even leave gaps in your design that weren’t there before and will need to be refilled by an artist.
Deep and thick scabbing can lead to tattoo cracking or excessive peeling which also can lead to bleeding or reopening of your tattoo wound. There are complications associated with this such as tattoo distortion, scarring, or worse, infection. Even though most wounds require a dry scab, a tattoo is different as you intend to preserve the artwork below the scab; that requires a moisturization process.
The discomfort that may come from dry healing a tattoo could be excessive. You have an extreme desire to itch or even a burning sensation that makes it almost impossible to avoid the urge to scratch the new tattoo. Scratching will lead to accidentally pulling skin or scab off your tattoo prematurely. Unless you think you can handle the intense urge to itch which may drive you insane, you may want to consider moisturizing your new tattoo.
There are no scientific studies that support the idea that dry healing speeds up the healing process. In fact, because of the fact that your skin tightens significantly when it is left to dry heal, it makes it more likely that your scabs will break, thus leading to bleeding and an extended healing time.
Some ointments or natural moisturizers actually contain ingredients such as vitamins and fatty acids that are exactly what your skin and your wound need to heal more quickly. If you are avoiding lotions due to sensitivities, your best option would be to go for an all-natural alternative that gives your skin the healthy nourishment it needs during this crucial time.
In addition, since you are not providing your tattoo with a protective barrier against environmental irritants, you must ensure you are hyper-aware of your surroundings and are wearing protective loose clothing to ensure no bacteria comes into contact with your tattoo, or that it isn’t bumped or scratched against anything.
A tattoo before and after moisturizing.
If there is one person who knows what’s best for your new tattoo, it’s the artist that put it on you. Everyone has a different method to their artistry process, and everyone has a tried, tested, and true system for the aftercare of their art.
If you are considering dry healing your tattoo, it would be best to discuss this with your artist as you are getting tattooed, or following the wrapping process. Let them know your concerns and clearly describe the needs or sensitivities of your skin. They may be able to suggest alternatives for you such as ointment, natural lotions, or better aftercare solutions for your particular needs.
Dry healing isn’t for everyone, and if you’re considering going about it without discussing it with your tattoo artist first, be aware of the risks involved, and the torturous itch and irritation in your future.
With so many natural and fragrance-free moisturization alternatives out there that are cheap and easy to access, it may be better for you to pursue using lotion as a part of your aftercare routine.
While it’s certainly a chosen method for many when it comes to tattoo care, knowing what’s best for your tattoo is between you and your tattoo artist, so be sure to consult a professional to see if dry healing is the best choice for you.