What happens if you forget to moisturize your tattoo for a day?

Getting a new tattoo is an exciting experience, but caring for it properly during the healing process is critical. Many tattoo artists recommend keeping new tattoos moisturized for the first two weeks to prevent scabbing and help the ink settle in. But what happens if you forget to moisturize your new tattoo for a day?

Here are quick answers to some common questions about forgetting to moisturize a new tattoo:

– Is it okay to skip moisturizing for a day? Generally yes, as long as it’s not a regular occurrence. Occasionally forgetting for a day won’t harm the tattoo.

– What should you do if you realize you forgot? Clean the tattoo gently with mild soap and water, pat dry, then apply a thin layer of moisturizer. Don’t over moisturize to try to make up for missing a day.

– Will skipping moisturizer for a day ruin the tattoo? No, but doing so regularly can lead to poor healing, scabbing, fading, and ink loss.

– How can you prevent forgetting? Make moisturizing part of your daily routine, keep moisturizer visible, set phone reminders, and have someone else remind you.

What Happens When You Skip Moisturizer

When you get a new tattoo, your skin needs extra moisture while it’s healing. Here is what happens when you miss a day of moisturizing during this critical period:

The Skin Becomes Dry

Your new tattoo is essentially a wound in your skin. The outermost layer of skin, the epidermis, gets damaged during tattooing. Moisturizer helps facilitate healing by keeping the skin cells hydrated, supple, and healthy. Without enough moisture, the skin over and around the tattoo can become dry, tight, flaky, or scaly.

Scabbing Can Occur

Very dry skin can crack open over a new tattoo, allowing fluid, plasma, and ink to seep out. This leads to the formation of scabs as the fluid dries. Scabbing pulls ink out of the skin and interrupts the healing process. It can also lead to spotty ink retention and uneven healing.

Itching Increases

Dry skin is itchy skin. Forgetting to moisturize can make an already itchy new tattoo much worse. Scratching to relieve the itch then further damages the skin. This introduces more plasma, fluids, and ink to the surface, resulting in more scabbing.

There’s Higher Risk of Infection

Dry, cracked, scabbed skin is vulnerable to infectious bacteria. Skipping moisturizer makes it easier for bacteria to penetrate the compromised skin barrier and get into the wound. Infections can cause redness, swelling, oozing, tenderness, and other complications.

Ink Fades Faster

Fluid and excess ink seeping out in scabs removes some of the ink particles implanted in the skin. This can lead to premature fading, especially in lighter colored areas. The sun also fades unprotected dry skin faster. Moisturizer shields the tattoo from UV rays.

Longer Healing Time

Lack of moisture slows down the skin cell regeneration needed to heal a tattoo. The entire healing process takes longer when the skin doesn’t get enough hydration and becomes compromised by scabbing, itching, and fading.

Tips for Moisturizing a New Tattoo

To keep your new ink looking vibrant, avoid the issues above by properly moisturizing your tattoo during the healing process:

Use the Right Moisturizer

Your artist may recommend or sell a particular moisturizer. If not, look for fragrance-free, dye-free lotions designed for sensitive skin. Avoid oil-based products like petroleum jelly. Always check with your artist about what to use.

Apply a Thin Coat 2-3 Times Per Day

Use clean hands to gently spread a rice-grain sized amount evenly over the tattoo. Rubbing can pull off scabs. Over-moisturizing won’t hydrate better. Rinse off excess buildup with water.

Continue for 2-4 Weeks

Most artists recommend moisturizing a new tattoo for at least two weeks. For tattoos that are slow to heal, continue for up to a month. As the skin regenerates, you can use less moisturizer less often.

Watch for Signs It’s Working

Properly hydrated tattoo skin looks shiny, feels smooth, and isn’t tight, flaky, or itchy. Adjust your moisturizing routine if you notice dryness. But if it looks oozy or heavily scabbed, see your artist.

What to Do If You Forget

It’s normal to occasionally forget to moisturize a healing tattoo for a day. Here are the proper steps to take if you miss a day:

1. Gently Clean the Area

Rinse the tattoo with lukewarm water and a mild, fragrance-free soap. Use your hands or a soft cloth to gently remove dirt, plasma, and excess ink on the surface. Avoid scrubbing. Rinse off all soap residue.

2. Pat Dry

Gently pat the tattoo dry with a clean towel. Don’t rub the area. Allow the skin to air dry the rest of the way before applying moisturizer.

3. Apply a Thin Layer of Moisturizer

Use a small amount of moisturizer across the entire tattooed area. Slowly smooth it into the skin. Even if it looks a little dry, don’t glop on extra moisturizer. Over-moisturizing can clog pores.

4. Continue Your Normal Routine

Get back to your regular moisturizing schedule for the remainder of the healing period. One skipped day won’t reset the entire process. Just don’t make it a habit.

5. Avoid Picking Scabs

Dry skin may form scabs after skipping moisturizer. Let scabs fall off on their own as the tattoo continues healing. Never scratch, peel, or pick them.

When to See Your Artist

You don’t need to panic over missing a day of moisturizer, but call your tattoo artist promptly if you notice:

– Heavy scabbing that won’t go away
– Redness, swelling, oozing, or pus
– Warm, painful areas that could signal infection
– Ink that looks significantly faded or missing
– Itchiness, tenderness, or skin changes that persist

Minor scabbing and dryness should resolve within a few days of getting back on schedule with moisturizing. Seek medical care if you have signs of infection.

How to Prevent Forgetting Moisturizer

Missing the occasional day won’t sabotage a tattoo’s healing, but forgetting frequently will. Here are tips to help you remember:

Make It Part of Your Routine

Apply moisturizer during your regular daily rituals, like brushing your teeth, to help form a habit. Keep the moisturizer visible on your bathroom or kitchen counter.

Use Reminders and Alarms

Set a daily alarm on your phone, watch, or other device to remind you when to moisturize. Have it recur at the same time each day. Also set calendar alerts.

Enlist Help from Others

Ask friends, family members, or significant others to gently remind you to moisturize your new tattoo, especially during the first two weeks. Post reminders around your house.

Track Your Progress

Use a chart or app to check off each time you moisturize. The visual record reinforces the routine. Celebrate milestones like 1 week, 2 weeks, etc.

Stock Up on Supplies

Buy multiples of your moisturizer so you always have a backup if one runs out. Keep tubes in your car, bag, office, etc. Curb supply issues interrupting your schedule.


While occasionally skipping moisturizer won’t doom a healing tattoo, it’s best to stick to the recommended routine. Hydrating properly optimizes the healing environment, allowing for brighter, more vivid ink retention. Set up reminders, make moisturizing a habit, and see your artist for complications. With good skin care, your art will look amazing for years!

Time After Getting Tattoo Recommended Moisturizing Frequency
First 3 days 3 times per day
Days 4-10 2-3 times per day
Days 11-14 2 times per day
Days 15-30 1-2 times per day

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