Tattoo Aftercare can be as simple as following a few easy to understand instructions. When following these instructions properly, most individuals tend not to have any averse reactions to the healing process. On the other-hand, a few missteps can lead to an awful experience.
What’s most important to remember with tattoo aftercare is that you are caring for an open wound; your new tattoo (all of it) is a beautiful open wound. It’s going to be free to the public and all of the environment’s micro-organisms once you remove your protective bandaging. Healing your new tattoo is therefore a battle against the elements. The best thing you can do is keep it covered and out of sunlight. Wash well, dry properly, and moisturize adequately 2-3 times/day.
Most tattoo artists will have a slightly different preference for tattoo aftercare. This is mostly made up of recommended ointments and moisturizers – and different healing times for different types of tattooing, in different parts of your body. Trust your artist; You sat in his or her chair for a reason, and they know what they are doing. The artist understands exactly how their style of tattooing heals, and how it may differ from other healing experiences you may have had in the past.
Make sure to keep your new tattoo clean without applying streams of water directly to the area. This is the most important step in the tattoo aftercare process. If your tattoo is consistently barraged with water it will be extremely difficult for the wound to heal as it will not be able to scab properly.
When washing your new tattoo, do so with an unscented bar of soap and a light application of water. In the shower, keep the newly tattooed area out of the direct stream and try to avoid prolonged periods of time (as steam will loosen some of the pores currently trying to heal). Rinse gently, and avoid extended contact with the area.
Always have sterile paper towel on hand to pat-dry the area. Never rub the area as this will harm the wound.
This is where it gets tricky and where most people tend to have issues. How much is “too much” or “too little”? It’s a legitimate question, but it is really tough to answer. It all depends on your skin type, absorption rates, pigments, the type of tattooing, and more. What’s important is that you keep the area moisturized without leaving it damp, sticky, and receptive to picking up new bacterias.
The art of cleaning, and moisturizing your tattoo is a delicate balance of tattoo aftercare. The goal is to prevent your tattoo from drying out while allowing it to heal – rather than “keeping your tattoo moist”. After cleaning, allow yourself a few minutes to dry prior to moisturizing your tattoo. This will allow for your body to dry the area completely, and prevent you from locking in additional moisture that could be harmful for the process.
When complete, repeat the “pat-dry” process with the paper towel. If you feel like you’re sticking to your clothes, you’ve used too much lotion.
Your artist will give you an accurate time frame for when to start using moisturizer, but normally most individuals will start in the first two days once major scabbing has started to fall off.
Let it heal
Be patient, but give it all the love it needs. In certain cases, none!
Like any wound, a new tattoo just needs to heal. If you can internalize the fact that tattoo aftercare is about “keeping your tattoo from drying out” rather than “keeping it moist” you’ll get the hang of this in no time.
Follow these steps, and your tattoo will come out looking awesome