How Long to Keep Second Skin on Tattoo?

How Long to Keep Second Skin on Tattoo?

Are you the proud owner of a beautiful new tattoo and curious about the optimal duration to leave your second skin on for optimal outcomes? If so, then you’re in luck – this blog post dives deep into all aspects related to keeping second skin on a tattoo. We’ll discuss everything from why it’s important to use a second skin, the benefits of leaving it on longer than directed, and even offer tips for dealing with difficulties posed by its application. With our helpful advice, you can be sure that your new tattoo will look beautiful and last as long as possible!

Tattoo Aftercare Tips

Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is a ‘second skin’? Simply put, it’s a thin, transparent layer of adhesive film that acts as a barrier to protect your new tattoo from external irritants while also helping to retain the skin’s natural moisture. This offers a range of benefits, from reducing scab formation to enhancing color retention. However, using it effectively requires understanding the nuances of tattoo aftercare, which we’ll delve into now.

Keeping Your Tattoo Clean

One of the most important tips for aftercare is to ensure proper cleanliness of your tattoo. Use a mild, soap without fragrance to delicately cleanse the inked region. Avoid scrubbing or using hot water as this can irritate the skin and disrupt the healing process.

Moisturize Regularly

After cleaning, it’s crucial to keep your tattoo moisturized. Use an unscented, alcohol-free lotion or a specific tattoo aftercare product. Remember, over-moisturization can lead to scabbing so apply a thin layer only.

Protect from Sunlight

Exposure to the sun can fade your tattoo, damaging the ink and your skin. [1] To promote proper healing, it is recommended to keep your tattoo concealed. Once healed, apply a high SPF sunscreen to protect it from UV rays.

Avoid Submerging in Water

Avoid swimming or soaking in a bath during the initial healing stage. Submerging your tattoo can cause it to heal improperly and may lead to infection.

Avoid Scratching or Picking

Itching often accompanies the healing process, but avoid damaging your tattoo by refraining from scratching or picking it. If you experience itching, gently pat the area or apply a small amount of lotion.

Wear Loose Clothing

Tight clothing can cause friction against your healing tattoo and may cause it to fade. Opt for loose, comfortable clothes during the recovering process.

Tattoo Aftercare Tips

Do Not!

In the upcoming section, we will explore several typical pitfalls to steer clear of while your tattoo is healing. These are actions that could jeopardize the appearance of your new tattoo and potentially cause discomfort or harm. By being aware of these, you can ensure a smoother healing process and protect the vibrancy and longevity of your tattoo. So, let’s explore what not to do during tattoo aftercare.

  • Do Not Ignore Signs of Infection: Ignoring signs of infection could lead to severe consequences. If you notice excessive redness, swelling, warmth, or a foul smell, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Do Not Rush the Healing Process: Every individual’s healing process is different. Do not rush yours by removing the protective bandage prematurely or failing to follow aftercare instructions.
  • Do Not Use Products not Recommended by your Tattoo Artist: Avoid using products that your tattoo artist did not recommend. Many products can cause allergic reactions or hinder the healing process.
  • Do Not Exercise Vigorously: During the healing process, limit vigorous exercise. Excessive movement can cause the tattoo to stretch and distort, and sweat can lead to infection. [2]
  • Do Not Expose to Direct Sunlight: To protect your new tattoo from the harmful effects of direct sunlight, it is important to avoid exposing it even after the healing process. Sunlight has the potential to fade the tattoo and harm your skin.
  • Do Not Re-bandage the Tattoo: Once you remove the initial bandage, do not re-bandage it. Your tattoo needs to breathe to heal properly.
  • Do Not Shave the Tattooed Area: To prevent any unnecessary irritation or potential infection, it is advisable to refrain from shaving the tattooed area until it has completely healed.

Do Not!

What Kinds Of Aftercare Products Should You Use?

When it comes to the question of how long a second skin should be kept on a tattoo, opinions vary. However, most tattoo artists recommend leaving it on for between 24 to 48 hours after the tattoo application. This time frame is crucial as it allows the newly tattooed skin to start the healing process effectively while protecting it from potential irritants and infections. Remember, the longevity of your tattoo significantly depends on the initial aftercare, so patience is key. Ensure that you seek guidance from your tattoo artist to obtain personalized instructions that are suitable for your unique tattoo and skin type.

What Is Second Skin?

Second skin is a specialized product utilized in the aftercare of new tattoos. It is a transparent, adhesive film that essentially acts as a substitute for your skin during the initial stages of the tattoo healing process. The product is crafted from breathable, waterproof materials that allow oxygen to reach the tattoo while keeping out water, dirt, and bacteria, thus reducing the risk of infection. The film not only protects the new tattoo from environmental hazards but also aids in preventing friction from clothing. [3] Furthermore, the second skin is designed to absorb excess ink and plasma from the tattoo, leaving the area clean and promoting optimal healing. What sets it apart from traditional bandages is its flexibility, allowing for comfortable movement without the risk of peeling or detachment.

Notably, the use of second skin minimizes the formation of scabs, a crucial aspect as scabs can potentially alter the appearance of the tattoo. The second skin film is typically left on for a few days according to tattoo artist’s instructions, during which it provides a moist environment conducive to healing, reducing the need for frequent tattoo washing and moisturizing. However, it is essential to be mindful of any adverse reactions such as redness, swelling, or itching, as these may indicate an allergic response to the product. As always, it is advised to closely follow the specific aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist when using second skin products.

What Is Second Skin?

The Benefits Of Using Second Skin On Your Fresh Tattoo

Second skin offers a variety of benefits for fresh tattoos, enhancing both the healing process and overall tattoo appearance:

  1. Promotes Faster Healing: Second skin creates an optimal healing environment, keeping the tattoo clean and moisturized, which accelerates the healing process.
  2. Prevents Scabbing: The product absorbs excess ink and plasma, reducing the chance of scab formation which can adversely impact the tattoo’s appearance.
  3. Reduces Risk of Infection: By acting as a protective barrier against environmental pollutants, the chance of infection is significantly reduced.
  4. Minimizes Friction: It protects against friction from clothing, reducing any potential damage to the new tattoo.
  5. Flexibility and Comfort: The product is flexible and comfortable, allowing for ease of movement without risking detachment or peeling.
  6. Simplifies Aftercare Routine: With second skin, the need for frequent washing and moisturizing is reduced, simplifying the aftercare process.

Side Effects Of Using Second Skin On New Tattoos

While the use of second skin on fresh tattoos can offer numerous benefits, as with any product, there may be potential side effects. These side effects can vary from person to person, based on individual skin sensitivity and specific reactions to the product. The following section aims to provide an overview of these potential side effects, so you can make an informed decision about whether to use a second skin in your tattoo aftercare routine. Always remember, if you experience any adverse reactions, it is essential to seek advice from a professional tattoo artist or healthcare provider.

Side Effects Of Using Second Skin On New Tattoos

Skin Allergies

While skin allergies to second skin products are relatively uncommon, they can occur in individuals with sensitive skin or a history of allergic reactions. Typical symptoms of a skin allergy include redness, swelling, itching, and discomfort at the site of the tattoo. In rare cases, blistering or a rash may develop. If you notice any of these symptoms after applying second skin, it is advisable to remove the product immediately and consult a healthcare professional.

It is also essential to inform your tattoo artist of the reaction, as they may be able to recommend alternative aftercare products or strategies. Long-term use of products that cause skin irritation can potentially lead to more serious complications, such as skin infections or prolonged healing times, so it is crucial to address any adverse reactions promptly.

Skin Infection

In rare instances, the use of second skin may contribute to a skin infection if not appropriately used or cared for. It’s important to remember that second skin is not a replacement for proper hygiene and diligent tattoo aftercare. An infection may manifest as persistent redness, increased pain, warmth, swelling, or discharge at the tattoo site. In such cases, it’s critical to remove the second skin product immediately and seek medical advice. Infections can cause severe complications if left untreated, including permanent tattoo damage and systemic illness.

To reduce the risk of infections, ensure your tattoo and surrounding area are clean before applying second skin. Follow your tattoo artist’s aftercare instructions carefully, and do not leave the product on for longer than recommended. If the second skin becomes dirty or starts to peel off, it’s advisable to remove it and consult with your tattoo artist for next steps. Despite its benefits, the use of second skin, like any aftercare product, requires responsibility and careful monitoring to ensure effective and safe tattoo healing. Keep in mind that each individual’s skin may react differently, and what works for one person may not work for another. Always make sure to listen to your body and take any signs of discomfort or infection seriously.

Skin Infection


Dehydration and Dryness

Some users report experiencing skin dehydration and dryness after using second skin products. While second skin is created with the purpose of keeping the tattoo moisturized for optimal healing, it is possible for some individuals to observe excessive dryness in the tattooed area, which may result in cracking and flaking. This may be due to the product absorbing too much moisture from the skin, resulting in dryness.

Products for skincare that include alcohol or fragrances can also worsen this dryness. If you notice your skin or tattoo becoming excessively dry after applying second skin, remove the product, gently clean the tattoo area, and apply an unscented moisturizer specifically recommended for tattoo aftercare. You may also want to consider switching to a different aftercare product.


Although rare, some individuals may notice a temporary discoloration of their skin or tattoo after using second skin. This is often a result of the product reacting with their skin’s chemistry or the specific inks used in their tattoo. It’s important to remember that this discoloration is usually temporary and will fade once the product is removed and the skin has had time to heal naturally. However, if the discoloration persists after a few days, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare provider or your tattoo artist.

Sensitivity to Sunlight

Second skin, like many other wound care products, can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. This increased sensitivity can lead to sunburn, peeling, and potentially, a longer healing time for your tattoo. When using second skin and anticipating sun exposure, it is advisable to apply a sunscreen with a high SPF, don protective clothing, or seek shady areas to safeguard the tattoo.

Skin Irritation

Apart from allergic reactions, some people might experience general skin irritation, including mild itching or a feeling of tightness. Experiencing these symptoms is a common occurrence during the healing phase and can be relieved by applying moisturizer to the affected area after the removal of the protective layer. However, if the irritation continues, it may be a sign of an adverse reaction to the product and should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.

Always remember, each individual’s skin is unique and may react differently to second skin products. Therefore, it’s crucial to closely monitor your skin’s response and adjust your aftercare routine as needed. Consulting with a tattoo artist or healthcare provider can provide further guidance and ensure the best possible healing outcome for your tattoo.


How Long To Keep Second Skin On Tattoo?

The length of time the second skin should stay on your tattoo can differ depending on various factors. These include the size and placement of your tattoo, your skin type, and the specific guidelines given by your tattoo artist. As a general rule, most professionals recommend leaving the second skin on for a period between 24 to 72 hours. [4]This time frame allows the second skin to secure the tattooed area, keeping it protected from external contaminants and creating a moist healing environment that promotes the skin’s natural healing processes. This environment can help reduce scabbing and preserve the vibrancy of the tattoo ink. However, it’s crucial to listen to your body and observe your skin’s response. If there is significant discomfort, or you notice signs of an allergic reaction or infection, the second skin should be removed immediately and medical advice sought.

On the other hand, if the second skin starts peeling off naturally within the recommended time frame, it’s a sign your skin is ready to breathe, and the product can be gently removed. After the initial period, the tattooed skin usually enters the peeling phase, where it starts to shed the top layer. At this point, it’s crucial to keep the area moisturized and protected from direct sunlight, but the second skin is no longer necessary. To ensure proper care for your tattoo, it is crucial to adhere to the guidelines recommended by your tattoo artist. They possess comprehensive knowledge about the tattooing methods they use and the specific second skin product, guaranteeing the best outcome for your tattoo.

How Long To Keep Second Skin On Tattoo?

Tips for Applying Second Skin Correctly

While the precise method may vary based on the product brand and your tattoo artist’s instructions, there are common steps that can help ensure successful application and optimal healing.

  1. Preparation: Prior to applying the second layer of protection, make sure to clean and dry the tattooed area thoroughly. Any residue or moisture can prevent the product from adhering properly.
  2. Cutting the Second Skin: Cut a piece of second skin that is slightly larger than your tattoo. This allows the product to stick to clean, unaffected skin around the tattoo, providing a better seal against contaminants.
  3. Application: Peel off the backing and apply the adhesive side directly to your tattoo. Press gently but firmly to secure the product and remove any air bubbles.
  4. Removing the Protective Layer: Once the second skin is in place, carefully peel away the protective layer on top without disturbing the product underneath.
  5. Post-Application Check: After application, monitor the tattoo area regularly to ensure the second skin is properly adhered and no signs of infection or adverse reactions are present.
  6. Removal: If the second skin begins to peel naturally, it’s a sign it’s time to remove the product. Always remove it gently to avoid damaging the healing tattoo.

Remember, these are general guidelines, and individual experiences may vary. Always follow the specific instructions given by your tattoo artist. If you are unsure about any aspect of the aftercare process, reach out to them or a healthcare provider for guidance.

Tips for Applying Second Skin Correctly

How Often Should You Change Your Second Skin On Your Tattoo?

The frequency with which you should change the second skin on your tattoo largely depends on the healing process and your body’s reaction to the product. Generally, a piece of second skin can be left on a tattoo for 24 to 72 hours if it’s not disturbed by clothing or doesn’t get excessively wet.

However, if the second skin begins to peel off on its own or shows signs of excessive moisture buildup underneath, it’s a clear indicator that it’s time for a change. This change can prevent potential infection caused by a moist environment which is conducive to bacterial growth.

Also, if the product causes discomfort, or itching, or appears to be causing an allergic reaction, it should be replaced immediately. It’s crucial to remember that these are general guidelines and individual experiences may vary. If in doubt, always seek advice from your tattoo artist or a healthcare professional.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I take the second skin off my tattoo early?

Yes, you can take the second skin off your tattoo early, particularly if you notice signs of irritation, allergic reaction, or infection. However, early removal should be a last resort, as the second skin is designed to protect your tattoo and create an optimal healing environment. Should you feel the need for early removal, it is highly recommended to consult with your tattoo artist or a healthcare provider first. Be sure to monitor your skin’s reaction closely and maintain a rigorous aftercare routine to ensure appropriate healing.

Is it good to leave a second skin on a tattoo?

Leaving a second skin on a tattoo can indeed be beneficial for the healing process. By creating a protective barrier against external contaminants, the second skin minimizes the risk of infection. Additionally, it fosters a moist healing environment that can promote the skin’s natural healing processes, reduce scabbing, and help preserve the vibrancy of tattoo ink. However, it’s necessary to remember not all skins react the same way to second skin products. Monitor the tattooed area closely for any signs of discomfort, allergic reaction or infection.

How do you take off the second skin?

Removing the second skin from your tattoo should be a careful and gentle process. Start by washing your hands thoroughly to minimize the risk of introducing bacteria to the healing tattoo. Next, find an edge of the second skin and begin to slowly peel it back. It’s crucial not to rip off the second skin rapidly, as this could damage your tattoo or cause unnecessary pain. Instead, peel it back slowly, moving in the direction of hair growth if possible. If you find the process too painful, try removing the second skin under warm water. The warmth can help loosen the adhesive and make the removal process more comfortable. Once the second skin is removed, gently clean the tattooed area with mild soap and warm water, then pat it dry with a clean towel.

Is it bad to leave Saniderm on too long?

Leaving Saniderm, or any other second skin product, on for too long can potentially create an environment conducive to bacterial growth, which could lead to an infection. It’s crucial to monitor the condition of the second skin and your tattoo underneath. If you notice the second skin starting to peel at the edges, or if there’s a buildup of fluids under it, it’s time to change it. Generally, second skin can be left on a tattoo for up to 24 to 72 hours. However, everyone heals differently, and reactions to second skin products can vary. If you’re uncertain, it’s always best to consult your tattoo artist or a healthcare professional.

Useful Video: How to Prepare Skin for a Tattoo | Tattoo Artist


In conclusion, the use of a second skin on a new tattoo can significantly enhance the healing process by providing a protective barrier against environmental contaminants. This product fosters a moist healing environment, helps maintain ink vibrancy, and reduces scabbing. However, the application, maintenance, and removal of the second skin require careful attention. It’s crucial to monitor the tattoo and the second skin for any signs of infection, irritation, or allergic reaction. Remember that everyone’s skin and healing process are unique, so guidelines might vary. Always consult with your tattoo artist or a healthcare professional if you have any doubts or concerns regarding your tattoo aftercare. Proper care and attention can ensure your tattoo heals beautifully and lasts a lifetime.