To moisturize, Mor recommends applying a small amount of a water-based healing ointment like Aquaphor for the first few days of healing. After that, moisturize with a simple formula like Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion.
You can always ask your tattoo artist for specific soap and moisturizer recommendations (they should be running you through the aftercare process), but if you forget, just keep it simple when shopping for aftercare supplies. Dr. Gohara recommends sticking to fragrance-free products to avoid further irritation to a healing tattoo, as do Dr. Palm and Mor. Recently, more skin-care brands that specifically focus on tattoo care have launched, helping to take the guesswork out of which products to buy. One Allure editor favorite is Mad Rabbit, which sells a fragrance-free body lotion that can help keep the area hydrated.
Unscented soap and moisturizer are a standard aftercare combo that basically all tattoo artists share, but Dr. Gohara recommends adding one more product to the mix for added healing power: “Lube up with barrier repair creams,” she says. “I love Avène Ciclafate+ Restorative Protective Cream.”
How do you preserve a finger tattoo or hand tattoo?
This is tattoo aftercare 101, folks, and the process for hand tattoos is essentially the same as it is for body art anywhere. “As with most tattoos, it is best to keep the area clean and prevent it from drying too much,” Mor advises. “This is usually difficult with hands because we use them so much. A gentle approach is best.”
Whatever you do, don’t pick or scratch
Tattoos can get super itchy during the healing process, so this one’s easier said than done, but it’s a good rule of thumb for all tattoos. Picking and scratching a tattoo that’s still healing can compromise the integrity of the colors or the crispness of the lines (take it from this writer, who’s mucked up several tattoos by picking them).
Moisturizers and barrier creams can help keep itching at bay. And it’s a good idea to keep fresh hand tattoos covered (this also provides the added benefit of shielding that new tattoo from daily wear and tear).
“The skin should be kept covered and moist while healing,” Dr. Palm says. Of course, this isn’t super easy for parts of the hand like the palm or fingers, but the back of the hand can benefit greatly from a flexible, breathable covering. “I prefer Hypafix for a bandage,” adds Dr. Palm, and a “hydrogel bandage is also a good option, especially if wetwork is unavoidable.”
Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen
Another thing that makes hand tattoos so tricky is the fact that they’re frequently exposed to the sun and that’s never good. “Ink can immediately begin to fade with UV light exposure,” says Dr. Gohara.
The best solution to that is to stock up on sunscreen and apply it liberally throughout the day. Dr. Gohara recommends looking for a physical sunscreen with at least SPF 30. Some Allure editor and dermatologist recommendations include EltaMD Active, Dr. Jart+ Every Sun Day Mineral Sunscreen, and Neutrogena Clear Body Lotion SPF 30.