From celebrities to chronic ink enthusiasts, finger tattoos are a subtle & stylish way to express yourself.
Maybe you want to get a matching tattoo with your friends, wedding bands with your partner, or are just looking to add some fresh ink to your hand. Whatever your reasoning, you should know how to properly care for your finger tattoo so that you can keep it looking healthy & fresh.
Proper aftercare for your finger tattoo
As with any tattoo, there are a few things that you must do to properly care for it. Your new ink looks great, but your tattoo is a fresh wound and must be treated with care.
To protect your skin, be sure to care for the wound, avoid common sources of bacteria (swimming, sunlight, dirty jewelry, etc.), and monitor for any signs of an infection.
Before we get into how to care for and preserve a finger tattoo, let’s cover some basics.
How to clean a finger tattoo
Because your hands are involved in almost everything you do, finger tattoos are sometimes tricky to keep clean. But don’t worry, we’re going to break down everything you need to know to keep your ink fresh & clean.
Let’s get right into the most obvious question…
Can I wash my hands after a finger tattoo?
Yes, you absolutely need to wash your hands after a finger tattoo. One of the most important parts of aftercare is keeping the area clean to prevent infections, so washing your hands frequently is a must.
Wash your hands with hot, soapy water for at least 20-30 seconds 3x per day and after eating, working, and physical exercise.
There are plenty of options when shopping for the right soap, so it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. To make it easy, choose a fragrance-free, liquid, pump soap to prevent damage and avoid irritations & infections.
Our top picks are Dr. Bronner Liquid Baby Soap ($8) and Dial Liquid Hand Soap ($2), both available on Amazon and most major retail stores.
Note: Though many soap bars are fragrance-free, they tend to sit in water and collect bacteria when not in use, opening you to possible infections.
How to dry your hands
After thoroughly washing your hands, gently dry them with a disposable paper towel or antimicrobial cloth.
Though you may typically use a hand towel, these towels – especially if shared with others – can harbor bacteria, exposing you to a potential skin infection.
How to moisturize a finger tattoo
What to apply
Similar to the soap, you should use a scent-free or fragrance-free, white cream lotion or moisturizer.
Or if you’re looking for an all-in-one aftercare solution for your finger tattoo, check out Ink Balm. Apply it directly to your finger 1-2x daily instead of lotion to protect and preserve your finger tattoo forever.
It relieves pain & itchiness, prevents infections, moisturizes, and keeps your ink looking vibrant.
Why moisturizing is important
Moisturizing is an important part of the healing process. It helps your skin regenerate more quickly, reduce irritation, and create the overall best environment for your skin cells to heal the damaged skin.
Though you may have heard that it’s best to let wounds “dry out,” that could not be more wrong when it comes to tattoos.
Dry skin reduces cellular activity and delays the healing process. And, dry skin is more susceptible to bacterial infections, which will ruin your tattoo.
When to moisturize
Apply your daily tattoo moisturizer as soon as the area begins to dry out, usually within 24 hours of your session.
If you’re using lotion to moisturize, apply 3-5 per day for at least the first two weeks, then regularly as a part of your daily skincare regimen.
With Ink Balm, apply just 1-2x daily for optimal moisture, skin health, and ink vibrance.
With daily cleaning and moisturizing, your new finger tattoo will be just fine. But if you want your ink to stay fresh forever, you’ll need to step up your aftercare regimen.
This is easier said than done. With other tattoos, you can make a conscious decision not to itch the area. With finger tattoos, it’s a bit more difficult because you can relieve an itch just by rubbing your fingers together.
But just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Itching will only cause inflammation, infection, and fading.
If you’re constantly fighting the urge to itch the tattoo, apply moisturizer to the dry skin to get rid of the sensation.
Don’t go swimming
Pools, lakes, and oceans are a must-avoid for the first few weeks after your tattoo. Even with chlorine, these bodies of water are not sterile and will likely cause infection, ruining your ink.
Aside from infection, chlorine and other pool chemicals can negatively affect the color, vibrance, and overall cosmetic appearance of your new tattoo.
If you want to spend a day at the pool or the beach, keep your hand out of the water and wear a waterproof bandage just in case.
If you accidentally get your finger wet, wash your hands with hot, soapy water immediately afterwards to prevent infection.
Stay out of the sun
You might think your fingers are safe from the sun, but unfortunately they’re not.
Even a few minutes of UV exposure can fade, crack, and/or blister your tattoo, so be sure to cover your tattoo with plenty of sunscreen.
Though it’s best to completely avoid the sun for 3-4 weeks after your session, that’s not always possible (or fun).
To safely enjoy the sun and protect your ink, use a broad-spectrum, fragrance-free sunscreen that is at least 30-50 SPF. If you can find one made from organic ingredients, that’s even better. Oftentimes, sunscreens are made from artificial ingredients that can irritate your healing skin.
How long does a finger tattoo take to heal?
Because the skin on your fingers is different from the skin on your arm, leg, or back, finger tattoos tend to heal at a faster rate – usually no more than six weeks.
The stages of healing
Finger tattoos heal in stages. Here's what to expect
- First 24-72 hours - These will be the most uncomfortable stage while your skin begins to recover from the trauma. Oozing & redness is common so continue cleaning the area.
- 3-7 days after - As long as you follow the aftercare routine we laid out, your skin will start healing during this stage. Redness & sensitivity will remain.
- 7+ days - Your skin is almost done healing and peeling is a healthy part of that process. With less skin than other parts of the body though, your fingers won't peel much. You can reduce the amount of peeling by moisturizing the area 2x per day as recommended.
- 2+ weeks - The area will become less sensitive every day and should be fully healed within 4-6 weeks so long as you avoid infections, sunlight, and pool water. Continue moisturizing to promote faster healing.
To make the most out of your finger tattoo, make sure to follow a consistent cleaning, moisturizing, and general aftercare regimen. Remember to wash your hands with hot, soapy water, moisturize 1-2x per day, and avoid any potential activities that may cause infection.
Frequently asked questions
Do finger tattoos fade fast?
Finger tattoos are known to fade significantly faster than other areas of your skin. This is because, as we mentioned earlier, your hands & fingers are involved in almost every aspect of daily life, meaning there’s a bit more wear & tear involved.
Your hands are constantly exposed to different textures, temperatures, and movement, all of which can reduce the lifespan of your finger tattoo.
Finger tattoos only last about 6-8 months before they begin to fade. But with proper aftercare and Ink Balm, you can extend the lifespan by years.
How long should I keep my finger tattoo covered?
Leave your finger tattoo covered for the first 2-3 hours after your session. Once you remove the wrap or bandage, clean the area with warm, soapy water and gently dry them with a clean cloth.
Should you moisturize finger tattoos?
Yes, you absolutely should moisturize finger tattoos. Your fingers & hands tend to be drier than other parts of your body so it's even more important that you keep your skin hydrated to promote healing.