How Long Should You Keep Your Tattoo Wrapped? Do’s and Don’ts

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Getting a tattoo is an exciting and rewarding experience. However, people often forget about the important aftercare that follows. One crucial aspect of aftercare is covering/wrapping your tattoo.

Understanding when and for how long to cover your tattoo is essential for effective aftercare.

So, to the question, how long should you keep your tattoo wrapped? The duration of keeping your tattoo wrapped depends on the recommended healing method by your tattoo artist. The traditional method involves removing the bandage after a few hours and wrapping the tattoo for the first three nights. The second skin/tattoo film method requires leaving the film on for 4-5 days.

We understand that you may have more questions about this process, so we’ve provided more information below.

Keep reading to learn more about wrapping your tattoo.

Wrapping New Tattoos: Explained

Depending on the tattoo artist healing method, some will recommend one thing or another. It is important to understand the healing method that your tattoo artist recommends. Find both methods in our article about tattoo aftercare instructions.

Some artists follow the traditional healing method, while others prefer the second skin/tattoo film method.

Each method has its own set of instructions and guidelines, as outlined below:

Traditional method

  • Within 3-4 hours, remove the bandage that your artist applied gently wash the tattoo with mild, unscented soap and warm water.
  • Wrap the tattoo with plastic wrap for the first three nights, but only at night and without using ointment.
  • Every morning, remove the wrap, wash the tattoo again, and follow the same steps.
  • After the initial three nights, stop wrapping the tattoo at night.

Tattoo Film/Second Skin method

  • Within 3-4 hours, remove the bandage that your artist applied gently wash the tattoo with mild, unscented soap and warm water.
  • After drying the area, cut the protective tattoo film to fit your tattoo (with a 1-2 in. border), avoiding air bubbles underneath.
  • Apply the tattoo film and leave it on for 24 hours.
  • Replace the film after 24 hours and keep it on for 4-5 days, patching leaks with a small piece of film if necessary.
  • Gently peel off the film after 4-5 days, pulling parallel to your body and using warm water to remove adhesive bonds.
  • Your tattoo may be dry and start peeling, it’s normal.
  • If you experience an adhesive reaction, switch to the traditional healing method.

For more details on tattoo bandages, see our article on protective tattoo film vs cling film.

Benefits of Wrapping Your New Tattoo

#1 Keeps the area safe and moisturized

Before applying the wrap, the tattoo artist will thoroughly clean and moisturize the area to create a safe and moist environment for the tattoo to heal.

#2 Protects against bacterial infections

The wrap creates a barrier between your tattoo and the outside world, guarding against bacteria and other germs that can cause infection, promoting proper healing.

#3 Shields from potential irritants

During the healing process, rough fabrics, bedding, or bacteria can interfere with the skin’s recovery and cause discomfort. Proper wrapping protects your tattoo from these irritants and promotes faster healing.

#4 Prevents accidental damage

Wrapping your tattoo provides an extra layer of protection from accidental bumps or knocks, which can be painful to the healing skin.

#5 Reduces the risk of scabbing

Wrapping your tattoo can also reduce the risk of scabbing by keeping the skin moisturized and preventing it from drying out, which ultimately leads to better healing and a more vibrant tattoo.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Dermatology, the use of film dressings (like those used in wrapping tattoos) was associated with less scabbing and faster healing times.

Wrapping Your New Tattoo: What to Do and What to Avoid

  • After taking the wrap off your tattoo, always wash it gently with warm water and mild fragrance-free soap.
  • Avoid wrapping the tattoo for too long (NEVER more than 6 days).
  • Avoid touching the wrapp and/or tattoo with dirty hands.
  • Avoid air bubbles underneath when applying tattoo film (some are unavoidable, though).
  • Use warm water when peeling off your tattoo film.
  • Avoid sleeping with your pets even if your tattoo is wrapped.

What Happens if You Leave a Tattoo Bandage On Too Long?

If you keep your tattoo wrapped for too long, it can lead to infection and make the healing process slower. So, it’s important to regularly change the dressing if you keep the bandage on for an extended period of time.

NOTE 💡 If the bandage becomes compromised or if there is too much blood or plasma, then it’s necessary to change it more often to avoid any risks of infection.


In conclusion, to protect your new tattoo from bacteria and other harmful elements, it’s important to use a bandage or wrap.

You can follow the traditional method of removing the bandage after a few hours, washing the tattoo, and re-wrapping it at night for the first three nights.

Alternatively, the second skin/tattoo film method involves leaving the film on for 4-5 days and regularly changing it to prevent infection. However, be careful not to leave the bandage on for too long, as it can cause infection and slow down the healing process.

Follow your tattoo artist’s instructions and take care of your new tattoo for a safe and quick healing process.


When can I take my tattoo wrap off?

The time to take off your tattoo wrap depends on whether you’re using the traditional or second skin method. For traditional healing, wait at least 5 hours before removing the wrap and washing the tattoo. For second skin, leave the wrap on for 3-4 days before removing.

Should I let my tattoo breathe?

During the healing process of your tattoo, it’s essential to allow your skin to “breathe” to prevent bacterial or moisture buildup. This means avoiding tight clothing that can stick to the tattoo and disrupt the healing process. If you’re using the second skin method, make sure to use breathable products that allow for air circulation and prevent unnecessary moisture buildup.

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