The best aftercare for your chest tattoo
As with any tattoo, there are a few things that you must do to properly care for your new ink. It looks great, but your tattoo is a fresh wound and needs to be treated the right way.
Caring for your new chest piece is pretty straightforward. Clean & moisturize regularly, wear loose-fitting shirts, and protect it from any possible sources of infection.
But to make sure it heals properly, follow this exact guide to chest tattoo aftercare.
How to clean a chest tattoo
Chest tattoos can be difficult to keep clean. But with the right routine, you can keep your ink looking fresh and skin healthy.
First things first – wash your hands for at least 20-30 seconds with soap and water.
Then, gently apply soap to your chest, making sure to clean every area of the ink. To avoid damaging or irritating your tattoo, use a fragrance-free, liquid, pump soap.
The best & most affordable options are Dr. Bronner Liquid Baby Soap ($8) and Dial Liquid Hand Soap ($2), both available on Amazon and at major retail stores.
If you’re thinking about using a fragrance-free soap bar, don’t. 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.
After you’ve thoroughly cleaned the area, rinse with cool water. Then, dry your chest with a disposable paper towel or antimicrobial cloth. Make sure to pat dry, not rub dry – you don’t want to irritate the skin.
Repeat this process at least 2-3x daily for the first two weeks after your session and after sweating or exposing your tattoo to potential bacteria.
How to shower with a chest tattoo
Most people find it easy to clean their tattoo while in the shower. I mean, you’re already cleaning the rest of your body, right?
But, there’s a few things you should know first.
Don’t use a loofah or a washcloth. They harbor bacteria and the rough texture will irritate your tattoo, potentially damaging it forever.
Just as you would clean any other tattoo, gently apply soap to the area, then rinse with cool water.
Don’t shower in hot water. Hot water will damage your ink and irritate the surrounding skin. And, it creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria to infect your healing skin.
How to moisturize a chest tattoo
What to apply
Apply a scent-free or fragrance-free, white cream lotion or moisturizer to the area at least 2-3x per day.
Or if you’re looking for the best tattoo moisturizer for your skin for your chest tattoo, check out Ink Balm. Apply it directly to your ink 1-2x daily instead of lotion to protect and preserve your chest 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 regenerates skin more quickly, reduces irritation, and creates 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 destroy your tattoo.
When to moisturize
Apply your daily tattoo moisturizer as soon as the area begins to dry out, usually within one day after your session.
Apply lotion 3-5x 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 tattoo will heal just fine. But if you want your ink to stay fresh forever, you’ll need to step up your aftercare regimen.
What to wear when getting a chest tattoo
Your chest is going to be extra sensitive after your tattoo, so make sure to wear a loose-fitting shirt that won't rub against the skin. We recommend a soft fabric like cotton to limit the irritation if the shirt does touch your skin.
Avoid wearing a bra that covers the tattoo. If you have to, place plastic wrap between the bra and your skin to avoid irritating the ink. Clean & moisturize the area before and immediately afterwards as well. Then, make sure to let it breathe after taking off your bra.
If you have to dress up for work, wear a soft, cotton undershirt that allows your chest some room to breathe. Similarly, don’t choose a tight-fitting dress shirt or suit if you can get away with something a bit more comfortable.
Other aftercare tips
Sleep on your back
Sleeping with a new chest tattoo is hard, especially if you normally sleep on your stomach or side.
For the first couple of weeks, you have to sleep on your back to let your tattoo breathe at night. You’ll suffocate your tattoo by sleeping on your stomach or side, irritating the skin and risking an infection.
To make this easier, place some pillows on either side of your body to avoid rolling around at night. And if you have trouble falling asleep on your back, consider adding a sleep aid to your bedtime routine.
Sleep is an important part of the healing process. And you want to make sure you get plenty of it.
If you’re sleeping with a partner (or pets, we don’t judge), you’re going to have to skip cuddling for a few nights. Their body heat is bound to irritate your tattoo and make it difficult to heal.
And lastly, sleep without a shirt. These 6-8 hours each night are the perfect time to let your skin breathe, especially if it’s been covered up by a shirt all day.
This goes without saying, but itching will damage your new ink. Avoid itching the area at all costs. If you’re constantly fighting the urge to itch, moisturize the area to relieve the sensation.
Don’t go swimming
You have to avoid all pools, lakes, and oceans for the first few weeks after your tattoo. Even chlorine pools can cause infection, permanently ruining your ink.
Even if you manage to avoid an infection, 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, just hang out in waist-deep water to avoid splashing your tattoo. And, wear a waterproof bandage just in case.
If you accidentally get the area wet, clean and moisturize the area immediately to protect your ink.
Stay out of the sun
Chest tattoos scream sex appeal. And there’s not a much better feeling than showing off a new chest tattoo, especially if you’ve put the work in to make your body great. But unfortunately, you have to wait to show it off.
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).
Use a broad-spectrum, fragrance-free sunscreen that is at least 30-50 SPF to safely protect your skin. Most cheap sunscreens are made from artificial ingredients that irritate your healing skin, so make sure to choose one made with more natural ingredients.
How long does a chest tattoo take to heal?
On the surface, your new chest tattoo will appear fully healed in 3-4 weeks.
But because the ink penetrates so deep into your skin, there’s still a ton of healing occurring even after the first month. For larger pieces, the healing process can take up to 6 months.
Depending on the size and location of your tattoo, your recovery time will vary. For example, full chest pieces take longer to heal than a sternum or fine line tattoos.
But if you maintain a consistent routine of cleaning, moisturizing, and all of the other aftercare steps in this guide, you’ll be able to show off your new ink in no time.
Frequently asked questions
Can I wear a shirt over a fresh chest tattoo?
Yes, you can wear a loose-fitting shirt shirt after getting a chest tattoo. Our favorites are oversized cotton t-shirts that make you feel as comfortable as possible.