April 13, 2024

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How To Waterproof A Tattoo For Swimming? A Complete Guide

6 min read
how to waterproof a tattoo for swimming

It might seem like the ideal time to flaunt your new tattoo while lazing by the pool or on the beach but hold off before putting on your swimsuit. Before entering the water again, there are some things you should do to waterproof your tattoo.

You must remember these tattoo care instructions whether you are a serious athlete or a casual pool lounger. Read this article to find out how to waterproof a tattoo so it can be worn while swimming.

Why Can’t You Swim With A Tattoo?

Risk Of Infection

Immersing freshly tattooed skin isn’t advised, aside from gentle washing, primarily due to the possibility of infection.

Like any open wound, which is what a fresh tattoo essentially is, submerging your tattoo could expose it to dangerous bacteria in the water. Mild to severe infections can exist.

Sepsis and death are potential outcomes, albeit unlikely. This was the case for one man who contracted Vibrio vulnificus (also known as the flesh-eating bacteria) after swimming in the Gulf of Mexico and sporting a fresh tattoo.

The risk may be lower in a swimming pool’s heavily chlorinated water than in open water, such as a lake or ocean, but chlorine does not completely eradicate all bacteria.

Damage To Your Tattoo

Your fresh ink might fade or turn ugly if you soak it. Fresh tattoos are particularly vulnerable to the effects of chlorine and salt water because both can erode the ink, dulling the color.

Itching, flaking, and scabbing can increase as a result of swimming’s drying effects on the skin and delay in healing. Additionally, this may result in fading, patchiness, and blurred lines.

Skin Irritation

Yes, some skin sensitivity is normal with a new tattoo. And it doesn’t sound nearly as bad as getting a nasty infection or destroying your brand-new, expensive artwork.

But in addition to being extremely uncomfortable, skin irritability can actually increase both of those risks.

Skin that has recently been inked is already fragile and raw. It may develop irritant contact dermatitis if exposed to chlorine and other chemicals, which can sting and hurt. This occurs when skin-penetrating chemicals like chlorine cause inflammation.

The end result is a red, itchy rash that may also include blisters, open sores, crusting, and swelling. All of these side effects may have an adverse effect on the long-term appearance of your tattoo.

When Can I Swim With A Tattoo?

We must make a distinction between taking a quick shower and going for a swim when it comes to going underwater with a new tattoo.

Showe we all must, and it is best to wait a few days before taking a shower if you recently got a tattoo. Overall, your tattoo needs to be completely protected while you shower and you shouldn’t ever subject it to direct water pressure. We’ll go into more detail about that in the paragraphs that follow.

Waiting until the tattoo has fully healed is preferable when it comes to swimming. You may be wondering when that is.

Well, it may take your tattoo up to two months to heal, which is a period that depends on your immune system, your tattoo aftercare process, and overall skin health and resilience.

When the tattoo has completely healed, closed up, shed all scabs, and is matte in appearance. This means that, out of an abundance of caution, you should continue to avoid swimming for at least two to three weeks.

how to waterproof a tattoo for swimming

Since the ocean, rivers, and ponds can all contain bacteria, you might want to avoid getting the tattoo infected. So, by preventing swimming for a few weeks, you’re making sure the tattoo is taken care of and stays healthy. So wait with patience; it will be worthwhile!

How Can I Waterproof A Tattoo For Swimming?

Wrap The Tattoo In Plastic Wrap

Although it may seem absurd, tattoo artists actually advise using plastic wrap, such as Saran Wrap, to conceal your ink. It’s a simple way to keep tattoos nice and dry and works well the first few nights you sleep with new ink.

Just keep in mind to first apply a light layer of ointment or moisturizer. After that, add a layer of gauze or paper towels. Together, they help limit the amount of moisture that can seep in and harm your skin by creating an airtight barrier.

It is, in essence, the best way to lower the risk of infections and promote healing. However, it is best if you don’t cover your tattoo with plastic wrap too frequently. Keep in mind that your skin needs to be able to breathe in order for it to heal and return to normal. If it is covered up, this cannot happen.

Seal The Plastic With A Medical Sealant

A special kind of surgical glue used by doctors to close wounds is known as a medical sealant. They are therefore a hassle-free option for fresh waterproofing tattoos.

SkinLock is a product that a lot of tattoo artists rely on. The best part is that it works quickly—in just 30 seconds or less, which is pretty quick—and is simple to apply.

For even coverage, use 3–4 coats per day. The sealant will eventually fall off on its own after roughly 7–10 days. That should preserve the quality of the tattoo while allowing the skin to heal.

Safer Alternatives To Using Vaseline

You shouldn’t use petroleum jelly or vaseline as part of your tattoo aftercare routine. For starters, it restricts airflow and traps moisture. Furthermore, it collects dirt and bacteria, which can cause skin irritations. Taking fresh tattoos as an example, it might be more harmful than beneficial.

The good news is that there are a few alternatives to using Vaseline to waterproof your skin art, such as those listed below:

  • Coconut oil
  • Cocoa butter
  • Shea butter
  • Skin cream specifically made for tattoo aftercare
  • Alcohol-free, fragrance-free skin moisturizer, like Eucerin or Lubriderm

The best way to use any of these alternatives is to wash and dry your skin gently first. Then, apply a thin layer over the tattoo about three to four times per day.

Be Careful With Your Tattoo Immediately After Your Swim

Imagine you just had to go swimming because you were unable to resist the urge. What should you do next to protect your ink and maintain healthy, inflammation-free skin while also protecting your tattoos?

Let’s pretend for the sake of argument that you wrapped or dressed your tattoo in a waterproof dressing. It’s essential to keep in mind that healing takes longer the longer the tattoo is covered.

Make sure to take off the dressing as soon as you get out of the water. With warm water, rinse the dressing, then pat it dry. Gently take it off after that, and then wash your skin with water, mild soap, or an antibacterial wash.

Finally, use a soft, clean towel to give your skin one last patdown. Apply soothing cream or ointment as a final preventative measure to help lessen skin inflammations. The color and design of your tattoo can also be preserved with their aid.


We are aware that the temptation to immediately go swimming and flash your new tattoo is strong. However, common sense dictates that you should exercise a little patience when dealing with something that has just been “carved” into your skin and is intended to last a lifetime.

You’re better off avoiding swimming entirely if you have a new tattoo, if possible, and following all your artist’s aftercare instructions.

Read More: Can You Swim With Eyelash Extensions?

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