What's the most important thing you should do after getting a tattoo? Get a stiff drink! (Just kidding.) Taking care of your new tattoo is the most important step, so below are the do's and don'ts of Tattoo Aftercare.
This is, arguably, the most difficult part of the tattoo process. I know your tattoo is sore and painful but you must take this process seriously. Otherwise, your tattoo will require more work!
- Once you're home with your freshly wrapped tattoo. Try to relax. Elevate the area that got tattooed (above your heart if possible). Start the recovery process by drinking plenty of fluids and eating well.
-Leave the bandage on for the rest of the evening or at least 8 hours.
-The next morning (or when you remove the bandage) is when you will start the physical aftercare process.
Take a shower, initially avoiding direct contact with the water until it is time to wash the actual tattoo. The bandage may want to stick to the bandage, so carefully use the warm water to separate the bandage and tape from the tattoo.
Using thoroughly washed hands and a mild soap (do not use bar soap, and avoid anything with perfumes) like Dr. Bronner's, wash the tattoo thoroughly. Be sure to pay extra attention to anywhere the blood mix, plasma, etc. has pooled or dried, make sure the tattoo is free from any of these spots.
It is important that the tattoo is smooth and free of debris or blood mix.
-Let the tattoo air dry or pat it dry with a clean paper towel. Be sure not to use your bath towel as it could contaminate your freshly cleaned tattoo
-After washing the tattoo and letting it completely dry you can apply an ointment. Avoid anything with petroleum products if you can. Make sure you really work the moisturizer in to the tattoo. Cetaphil, Lubriderm, or a tattoo specific aftercare are good options. Again, avoid anything with fragrances.
The tattoo should barely shine after rubbing in the ointment. Using too much ointment can be detrimental to the healing of the tattoo.
If you're moisturizing tattoo it is because you washed it first. Do not just reapply ointment on an unwashed tattoo.
- For the first week, at a minimum, wash the tattoo 5 to 7 times per day. You should wash your tattoo and apply ointment in that order every time. Anytime the tattoo feels tight, dry, overly moist, itchy, or dirty repeat the process. As long as you are properly cleaning and then moisturizing the tattoo you can not wash it too much.
-Continue this vigorous routine until the tattoo has finished peeling and is no longer shiny.
-Throughout this process be conscious of the tattoo as it is an open wound. A fast and healthy heal entails several things beyond cleaning the tattoo. Sleep well, Eat well, hydrate and keep your tattoo clean.
Things to avoid during HEALING
-Do not workout, sweat, hike or whatever physical activity you had planned after your appointment.
-Do not pick or itch your tattoo. Really the only time you need to be touching your tattoo is when you are washing/moisturizing your new tattoo
-Do not sleep on your tattoo. Example, if the tattoo is on your back, sleep on your stomach. Not only will the tattoo become stuck to your clothing and linens, it will leave a lovely imprint on your sheets.
Should you wake up and your clothes are stuck to your tattoo, do not rip them off, for this could result in ripping off scabs. Instead wet the area of clothing that is stuck to the tattoo with warm water and it will become unstuck.
-Do not submerge the tattoo in any fluid. Do not go swimming or soak in the tub or spa. Do not use the sauna. These are hard NO's until the tattoo is completely healed! Showers are okay but be mindful of the amount of time the tattoos spends under water.
-Stay out of the sun! Getting sunburnt or over exposing your tattoo to UV light can cause some serious problems. Think of your tattoo as like healing a bad sunburn, you wouldn’t want to get more sun on it. If being in the sun is unavoidable for any period of time, wear clean, loose cotton clothing over the tattoo.
-Do not wear tight clothing that rubs on or around the tattoo. Some key areas where this is common is around the pants line and the bra line. Try to wear loose fitting clothing over the tattooed area so that its breathable. If you're not going to be in public, go without!
The first couple days of healing the tattoo will tend to weep or “ooze” in the colors of the tattoo that tend to stain fabric, so, be mindful of your attire.
-Do not neglect your tattoo. What I mean is, if you have to work during the aftercare process, be prepared to strip down and clean the tattoo. If you have to travel after your appointment, be ready to get awkward and clean your tattoo in weird places!
After your tattoo is healed
-In order to keep your tattoo looking good for as long as possible, stay out of the sun! when you're going to have any sun exposure, use sun block to help avoid fading. UV light is not kind to tattoos!
- Throughout the life of your tattoo it is important to keep your skin moisturized. Lotion and water are the keys to keeping this organ properly hydrated!
NOTE: there are several ways to heal a tattoo, these are just my recommendations for my style of tattooing. If you have a healing method that has worked in the past and you feel more comfortable with that method, then apply it at your own risk. Any questions, concerns, or inquiries should first be directed to your artist, not your friends, or family or that random person who got that one tattoo that one time in that other shop!