How To Waterproof A Tattoo For Swimming [Just Cover It Up?]

Written By: Chris Tebbutt
Date Published: July 31, 2022

So you recently got a fresh new ink and can't wait to show it off at the beach or the pool?

Not so fast! Going for a swim with a healing tattoo exposed is a big no-no.

If you don't take proper precautions, you are not only risking your beautiful tattoo from getting discolored and destroyed because of the direct sun at the beach, but in the worst-case scenario, you are asking for skin infection and other health problems.

It's usually recommended to wait at least two to four weeks before swimming with a new tattoo, but in some cases, tattoo artists even recommend waiting a month or two for a tattoo to heal properly. However, what if I told you that you could start hitting the beach or the pool within a few days of getting a new tattoo?

Well, find out how to waterproof a tattoo for swimming with a few simple steps right here!

Steps To Waterproof a Tattoo and Body Art

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This is one of the simplest and most effective methods to waterproof a tattoo without breaking the bank. AND... it's a great way to conceal fresh ink until your tattoo heals because in some situations you might even be turned away from swimming pools or the beach due to an "open wound".

What You Will Need

  • Dermablend Leg and Body Makeup - It comes in a variety of skin tones, so even if your recently tattooed skin looks a bit red as if it has some skin irritation, you can apply this to get a more natural and healthy look. The SPF 25 is also a nice bonus because you will need sunscreen to prevent your tattoo from discoloring.
  • Red lipstick - Your tattoo artist may have never mentioned this, but lipstick repels water! We specifically recommend red lipstick because it contrasts with the darker colors of a tattoo giving it a natural discreet look.
  • Alcohol - Alcohol is required to effectively remove the makeup and lipstick.

Please follow the instructions below on how to waterproof a tattoo for swimming.

Step 1: Apply Red Lipstick to The Tattoo

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Simply apply a thin layer of red lipstick over your newly tattooed skin. "Waterproof" or oily and waxy lipsticks are best because you don't want your tattoo wet. Make sure to evenly apply it without causing any weird bumps.

We highly recommend red lipstick because it contrasts well with the darker colors of a tattoo, and when everything is applied correctly, you get a neutral and healthy-looking skin color. In addition, you will be able to apply the Dermablend Makeup more easily.

Step 2: Apply The Dermablend Leg and Body Makeup

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Gently apply the makeup over the lipstick. You can use a brush to get a more thorough application until you can't tell there is a tattoo underneath.

Congrats! You now have a waterproof tattoo, without the need for silly plastic wrap.

However, do keep in mind that you shouldn't necessarily stay in warm water for a very prolonged period of time because even if you waterproofed your tattoo for swimming, your body, in general, will soak up water which can cause a delay in your healing process.

Step 3: Use Alcohol to Wipe Off Lipstick and Makeup

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After you are done swimming, dab a cloth with alcohol and wipe off the lipstick and makeup. Vodka or a higher alcohol percentage will work best. Wash off with mild soap or antibacterial wash and apply some Vitamin A&D ointment if your skin feels too dry. Lastly, dry with a clean towel.

However, your tattoo artist should have given you instructions for after-care, so use your own judgment for what ointment is best.

Estimated Cost: 50 USD


  • Dermablend Body Makeup
  • Waterproof Red Lipstick
  • High Percentage Alcohol

Frequently Asked Questions | Tattoo Artist

In addition to waterproofing a new tattoo for swimming, here are answers to some of your frequently asked questions and advice many tattoo artists would give to newbies.

Can you shower without waterproofing your tattoo?

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Yes, you can shower without waterproofing a fresh tattoo, but avoid using hot water as it will cause some skin irritation and slow down the healing process. Use somewhat hot to lukewarm water instead and pat the tattoo dry afterward.

While you are less likely to deal with bacteria in your own personal shower, it's recommended to gently wash the new tattoo with mild antibacterial soap just in case.

Also, remember to not sit in the shower for too long and soak your new tattoo. Soaking it will cause problems with the healing process, and result in excessive dryness, scabbing, and scarring.

As long as it's a quick shower, you don't have to worry about ruining your new body art.

Are you allowed to swim with fresh tattoos?

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While it is highly recommended that you wait at least two weeks before swimming with a new tattoo or until the tattoo completely healed, in short, YES, you can swim with fresh ink as long as you take the proper precautions and learn how to waterproof a tattoo for swimming.

In order to avoid being turned away from a swimming pool or the beach due to an open wound, learning to conceal and how to waterproof a tattoo for swimming is essential.

If you followed our "how-to steps" above though, you wouldn't have any problems.

What are the risks of swimming with a fresh tattoo?

Taking proper precautions with a new tattoo will greatly reduce and minimize a lot of risks. However, if you don't take the necessary steps to waterproof a tattoo for swimming, you are more likely to:

Damage your tattoo overall - When your tattoo gets soaked, your skin gets dry which in turn can cause the scab wounds to prematurely peel off. You are reducing the lifespan of your tattoo significantly by doing this.

Cause tattoo discoloration, fading, and tearing - While a little bit of ink bleeding is expected, swimming in a pool with a bunch of chemicals will cause excessive ink to bleed from a new tattoo. When your tattoo finally heals, you will be left with an inconsistent faded tattoo, with missing pieces here and there.

Experience skin dryness and frequent scab wounds - Besides the usual skin flakiness that results from heavily chlorinated water, your scab wounds won't have enough time to naturally heal on their own, so you will have to deal with more pain and open wounds that could potentially cause skin infection.

Get skin infection - Even though chemicals in a swimming pool kill bacteria, you are playing a dangerous game... If you are thinking of going for a swim in an ocean or a dirty river/pond don't even think about it. You are just asking for trouble.

Is there any alternative way to waterproof a new tattoo?

A lot of tattoo artists recommend Saniderm, a type of waterproof dressing / waterproof bandage, as an alternative method to waterproof a tattoo for swimming or showers.

Compared to plastic wrap, a waterproof dressing is smaller, easy to carry, and is quite an effective alternative method for waterproofing a tattoo until it is fully healed.

What are good after-care products for new ink?

Aquaphor - Aquaphor is a healing ointment that helps to keep your tattoo moist and prevents it from drying out. It also provides a barrier against bacteria.
You should only use Aquaphor in the beginning few days and then let the tattoo heal on its own.

Anti-bacterial soap - Make sure to wash with an anti-bacterial soap prior to swimming. This will help to remove any bacteria that may be on your skin. Us the anti-bacterial soap afterward as well to help keep the tattoo clean.

Does tattoo design or size matter?

Yes, tattoo design and size matter. The bigger the size, the more likely you are to get a bacterial infection if you do not take proper precautions.

Besides bacteria, other chemicals can trigger inflammation and while short of physical therapy, you will have to give your skin time until it's fully healed, which can be annoying for people who enjoy swimming, so make sure to fully waterproof yourself before jumping in any open water.

Final Thoughts and Healing Process

As long as you take care of your new tattoos and precautions as per the suggestions above AND your personal tattoo artist, you should be good to go!

Remember to avoid soaking your body in water for long periods of time, getting in hot tubs, and applying some aftercare cream here and there to promote faster healing.

Just be sure to follow the steps correctly on how to waterproof new tattoos for swimming and properly clean the makeup and lipstick with alcohol wipes afterward.

Lastly, if you have not already done so, I highly recommend you get Leg and Body Makeup from Dermablend. For many years they have specialized in makeup and products that are specifically geared towards waterproofing and concealing any open wounds on fresh ink so that you can enjoy your life without having to wait weeks or months.

Article written by Chris Tebbutt
In 2016 I got my first house that had a pool and I had no idea where to begin. Over time I have learnt how to do most things myself (I am really into DIY) and wanted to share my information with other. I was one of the people who thought if water smelt like chlorine, that meant there was too much chlorine in the water!