How to Waterproof a Tattoo for Swimming?

Summer vibes and fresh tattoos seem like the ultimate blend for many of us.

Written by Kate Holmsy. Updated on How to Waterproof a Tattoo for Swimming

Summer vibes and fresh tattoos seem like the ultimate blend for many of us. The season where sun-kissed skin meets the cooling embrace of the water. But here’s the twist – freshly inked tattoos and water, especially chlorinated swimming pools, are not the best of friends.

If you’ve just gotten that dream tattoo, the urge to flaunt it while taking a dive can be hard to resist. Yet, diving in without precautions can distort your tattoo’s color and even lead to infections.

The good news? With a few well-researched steps, you can have your tattoo and swim with it too. Dive into our in-depth guide below!

The age-old art of tattooing has come a long way. Its deep cultural roots have evolved into a blend of art and self-expression in contemporary society. Yet, caring for a new tattoo remains as crucial as ever. A vital part of this is understanding how to waterproof it for swimming.

1. Understanding Tattoo Healing: More Than Just Skin Deep

Fresh tattoos are, essentially, open wounds. When you dip in a pool, chlorine and other chemicals can seep into the skin, compromising the tattoo’s vibrancy and clarity. Plus, waterlogged skin tends to peel, potentially taking some of your new ink with it.

  • a. First 48 Hours: Crucial for ink setting. Avoid submerging in water completely.
  • b. Next Two Weeks: Tattoo starts healing. It will scab and peel. Fresh layers are vulnerable to color loss.
  • c. After Two Weeks: Outer layer generally heals, but deeper skin layers are still mending.
1. Understanding Tattoo Healing More Than Just Skin Deep
EdZbarzhyvetsky via vistacreate

2. Temporary Tattoo Barriers: Your Tattoo’s Best Friend

Investing in temporary barriers can save your tattoo from potential water damage. These products are designed to shield your tattoo from harmful elements, including water.

  1. i. Tattoo Film: Thin, adhesive sheets create a waterproof barrier.
  2. ii. Specialized Balms: Creates a protective layer. Apply generously before swimming.
  3. iii. Waterproof Bandages: Designed for extended contact with water.

Comparison Table

Product Pros Cons
Tattoo Film Transparent, Breathable Can be pricey, Needs careful application
Specialized Balms Easy to apply, Multipurpose (moisturizes & protects) Needs reapplication, Might be greasy
Waterproof Bandages Strong water resistance, Available in multiple sizes Might not cover large tattoos, Can be noticeable

3. Techniques to Swim Safely with a Tattoo

Technique matters! How you approach your swim can have significant implications for your tattoo’s well-being.

  • 1. Shorter Dips: Keep initial swims brief. Limit exposure time to reduce risks.
  • 2. Freshwater Rinsing: After swimming, rinse the tattooed area with fresh water immediately. It helps wash off harmful chemicals.
  • 3. Dry Gently: Pat dry with a soft towel. Avoid rubbing.

4. Post-Swim Tattoo Care: Ensuring Long-term Vibrancy

The aftercare post-swim is just as important as the precautions you take before diving in.

  • a. Moisturizing: Rehydrate the skin using a tattoo-friendly lotion.
  • b. Avoid Sun: UV rays can fade the tattoo. If you have to be in the sun, use tattoo-specific sunscreen.
  • c. Monitor for Infections: Watch out for signs like excessive redness, swelling, or pus.
4. Post Swim Tattoo Care Ensuring Long term Vibrancy
HayDmitriy via vistacreate

5. Understanding Water Types: From Pools to the Ocean

While all types of water can potentially affect a new tattoo, the risks vary depending on the water source.

  • i. Chlorinated Pools: The chemicals can exacerbate fading and increase infection risks.
  • ii. Saltwater/Ocean: Salt can dry out the tattoo, but it also possesses natural antibacterial properties.
  • iii. Freshwater Lakes & Rivers: May contain bacteria which can lead to infections if a tattoo isn’t properly protected.
How to swim underwaterHow to swim underwater

Comparison Table

Water Type Pros Cons
Chlorinated Pools Controlled environment Chemical exposure, Risk of fading
Saltwater/Ocean Antibacterial properties Can be drying, Sand abrasion
Freshwater Lakes/Rivers Natural, No chemicals Potential bacterial presence, Contaminants

6. Common Myths Busted: Separating Fact from Fiction

There’s a ton of advice floating around, some of it misleading. Let’s set the record straight.
1. Saltwater Speeds Up Healing: partial truth. While salt can act as a disinfectant, prolonged exposure can be drying.
2. Tattoos ‘Seal’ in 24 Hours: wrong. Surface layers might appear healed, but deep layers take weeks.
3. You Can’t Swim with a Tattoo for Months: over-exaggeration. With proper care and protection, you can enjoy water activities sooner.

6. Common Myths Busted Separating Fact from Fiction
AllaSerebrina via vistacreate

7. Lessons from Tattoo Artists: Expert Insights

Who better to weigh in on this than tattoo artists themselves? They’ve seen it all and have invaluable insights.

  • a. Timely Touch-Ups: Artists often advise waiting until the tattoo is fully healed before considering touch-ups, even if there’s initial fading.
  • b. Quality of Ink Matters: Not all inks are created equal. Higher-quality inks tend to resist fading better.
  • c. The “Dry Heal” Method: Some artists swear by letting tattoos heal without the aid of ointments, suggesting it might speed up the process.

Swimming with a new tattoo is all about balance. With the right knowledge and precautions, you can enjoy the best of both worlds without compromise. Tattoos are more than just ink on the skin; they’re stories, memories, and art.

By taking the necessary steps to protect them, you ensure that your story remains vivid and beautiful for years to come. Dive in confidently, and let your tattoo shine as brightly underwater as it does on land!

Caring for a New Tattoo: Swim, Salt, and Showers

Ah, the allure of a fresh tattoo! The rush of having a new piece of art on your skin is incomparable. However, with this beautiful addition comes the responsibility of ensuring it heals properly, maintaining its vibrancy and detail for years to come.

The path to a perfectly healed tattoo involves understanding when it’s safe to swim, how to protect it from the challenges of salty water, and even the art of picking the right shower gel.

Caring for a New Tattoo Swim, Salt, and Showers
VitalikRadko via vistacreate

1. To Swim or Not to Swim: Timing Matters

Fresh tattoos are essentially open wounds. When submerged, they are susceptible to bacterial infections. Pools, in particular, are treated with chemicals like chlorine which can irritate the tattoo, possibly leading to color distortion.

  • The Safe Window: The general consensus is to wait a minimum of two to three weeks before submerging your tattoo in water. However, always consult with your tattoo artist for their specific recommendation. Your skin should be fully healed, with no scabbing or peeling left, before you consider diving in.
  • Quick Dips: If you absolutely must get into the water shortly after getting inked, make it a quick dip. The less time the tattoo spends submerged, the lower the risk. But remember, avoiding it altogether is best.

2. Salty Affairs: Battling the Ocean’s Embrace

Saltwater, while having some antibacterial properties, presents its own challenges. The salt can dry out the tattoo and, combined with the sun, may lead to faster fading.

  • Stay Hydrated: Before hitting the beach, ensure you moisturize the tattoo thoroughly. A well-hydrated tattoo can better fend off the drying effects of salt.
  • Rinse Promptly: After your ocean escapade, rinse the tattoo with fresh water. This helps wash off any salt residues, minimizing potential damage.
  • Sunblock is Essential: If you’re exposing your tattoo to sunlight, especially near the ocean, apply a generous layer of sunblock. UV rays can fade tattoos, and combined with salt, they can be doubly damaging.

3. Showering Sensibly: Gels that Guard

Showering with a new tattoo doesn’t need to be a complicated affair. The key lies in choosing the right shower gel and being gentle.

  • Go Mild: The best shower gels for tattooed skin are the ones that are mild and free from heavy fragrances and irritants. Look for products labeled “sensitive skin” or “gentle.” Organic, all-natural formulations can also be a good choice.
  • Avoid Direct Jets: Don’t let powerful jets from the shower hit the tattoo directly. It can be abrasive during the early stages of healing.
  • Pat, Don’t Rub: After showering, pat your tattoo dry with a soft towel. Rubbing can irritate the skin and dislodge scabs prematurely.

Lifehack Tips:

DIY Salt Solution: If you’re wary about entering saltwater but still want some exposure to its antibacterial properties, consider making a mild salt solution at home. Dissolve a pinch of sea salt in a cup of warm water and gently dab it on the tattoo.
Baby Products: Baby shower gels are formulated to be extremely gentle and are often suitable for fresh tattoos. They cleanse without causing irritation.

In conclusion, a new tattoo is a beautiful commitment and, like all commitments, requires care and attention. While the urge to jump straight into the ocean or lounge in a pool might be high, patience is paramount. Couple this patience with the right protection, and you ensure that your tattoo remains as stunning as the day the last drop of ink was set into your skin. Happy healing!

Protecting Your Masterpiece: Factors That Can Harm a New Tattoo

A tattoo is more than just ink etched onto the skin; it’s a piece of art, a story, and a memory captured forever. But like any masterpiece, it’s susceptible to damage if not cared for properly. The aftermath of getting a tattoo is just as crucial as the preparation and the act itself. While he process might seem straightforward, there are several external factors that can hinder the healing of your new tattoo, potentially causing it to lose its vibrancy or get damaged.

'Keep It Clean!' How to Take Care of Your Fresh Tattoo | Ask the Artist‘Keep It Clean!’ How to Take Care of Your Fresh Tattoo | Ask the Artist

Factors That Can Damage a New Tatto:

  1. Sun Exposure: UV rays can significantly fade a fresh tattoo. Direct sunlight on a new tattoo can lead to sunburn, causing the tattoo to peel prematurely, which can fade the ink.
  2. Water Submersion: Whether it’s a swimming pool, ocean, or even a bathtub, prolonged water exposure can spell disaster for a fresh tattoo. The water can cause the skin to swell and might lead to the ink spreading or washing out.
  3. Poor Aftercare: Neglecting the aftercare process can result in infections, scarring, and loss of ink.
  4. Scratching & Picking: A new tattoo will itch during the healing process. Scratching it or picking at scabs can pull out the ink and lead to patchy areas.
  5. Physical Trauma: Scraping or injuring the tattooed area can disrupt the healing process, potentially leading to loss of ink or scarring.
  6. Harsh Chemicals: Lotions, creams, or cleaning agents with harsh chemicals can irritate the tattooed skin, leading to potential discoloration.
  7. Tight Clothing: Wearing tight or abrasive clothing over a new tattoo can cause friction, leading to potential scabbing or loss of color.

How to Keep Your New Tattoo Safe?

  1. Seek Shade: Especially during the first few weeks, limit the tattoo’s exposure to direct sunlight. If you have to be outdoors, cover the tattooed area with clothing or use a high-SPF sunblock specifically designed for tattoos.
  2. Avoid Submerging in Water: Showers are fine, but avoid baths, swimming pools, and oceans for at least two to three weeks or until the tattoo is fully healed. This will protect the tattoo from harmful chemicals and potential infections.
  3. Follow Aftercare Recommendations: Always adhere to the aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist. This will usually involve cleaning the area with a gentle, non-alcoholic solution and applying a thin layer of moisturizing ointment.
  4. Hands Off: As tempting as it might be, do not scratch or pick at your tattoo. If itching becomes a significant problem, lightly pat the area or apply a bit of moisturizer.
  5. Be Gentle: Avoid any activities that might cause physical harm to the tattooed area. This includes sports or any other activity where there’s a risk of scraping or injuring the skin.
  6. Opt for Natural Products: When moisturizing the tattoo, opt for natural, fragrance-free products. Lotions with added fragrances or chemicals can irritate the skin. Read the label to ensure the product is suitable for tattooed skin.
  7. Wear Loose Clothing: Ensure that the clothing over the tattooed area is loose and made of soft fabric, especially during the initial healing phase. This will minimize friction and allow the skin to breathe, aiding in the healing process.

In essence, a new tattoo is akin to a fresh wound. The way it heals can dictate its longevity and appearance in the long run. By being aware of potential hazards and ensuring you follow a stringent aftercare regime, you safeguard the vibrancy and clarity of your tattoo. It’s a commitment that requires diligence, patience, and care. But when done right, the end result is a beautifully healed piece of art that you’ll cherish for a lifetime.


In the dance between ink and water, understanding is key. Whether you’re diving into the deep blue or just wading in a serene lake, protecting your tattoo ensures that its artistry remains untouched and its story untarnished.

With a mix of vigilance and knowledge, you can savor the joys of swimming without sacrificing the vibrancy of your skin’s narrative. Dive, splash, and swim, but let your tattoo remain as poignant and vivid as the day it was etched onto you.

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐How long should I avoid swimming after getting a tattoo?

Ideally, you should wait at least two to three weeks before swimming. Ensure your tattoo is fully healed to avoid potential infections and fading.

⭐Can sunlight really damage my fresh tattoo?

Absolutely. Direct UV rays can fade and harm the ink, especially on a fresh tattoo. It's crucial to keep it protected from sunlight during the initial healing phase.

⭐Are there specific lotions I should use for tattoo aftercare?

Yes, it's best to use fragrance-free, natural moisturizers. Some lotions are specifically designed for tattooed skin. Always avoid products with harsh chemicals.

⭐Can tight clothing damage my new tattoo?

Tight or abrasive clothing can cause friction on the fresh tattoo, leading to potential scabbing or loss of color. Opt for loose, soft fabrics during the healing phase.

Written by
Kate worked in "The Fashion Magazine" for four years as a freelance writer and loved to consult and help people with their style. How to create your own style, how to look beautiful, and select trendy colors for your hair - these are just a few of many issues Kate will happily explain in Beezzly Beauty blogs!
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How Soon Can YOU Swim AFTER Getting A NEW TATTOO?How Soon Can YOU Swim AFTER Getting A NEW TATTOO?