A tattoo isn’t complete until it is fully healed.
This takes active participation on your part.
Tattoo After Care
- Remove the bandage after one hour, two maximum. All wounds need to breathe if they are to heal properly.
- Wash the tattoo using your fingertips or hand only. Use a mild antibacterial soap and warm water. Take care to remove all traces of blood as this will cause scabbing. Do not scrub the tattoo with a washcloth during the two week healing period. Always gently pat the tattoo dry with a clean soft cloth or just let it air dry.
- Apply a thin coat of ointment (Aquaphor ) to the tattoo. Use just enough to make it shine– a little goes a long way. Work it in well and dab off all the excess with a paper towel. You should barely be able to tell that it’s there… this is just enough to keep the tattoo moist and prevent it from scabbing. Your body heat will liquify the ointment and it may become glossy or runny looking. If this is the case, then you’ve put too much on and should dab some off. Too much ointment will only suffocate the tattoo and liquify any scabs that may have formed– which causes the ink to fall out and leaves the piece looking blotchy. There is no need to re-bandage the tattoo. Yes there are a lot of tattoo healing products out there. In my experience, most are snake oil, just stick to what works.
- Ointment can be applied whenever the tattoo is feeling stiff or dry but beware of over-moisturizing. Your body will absorb what it needs where it needs it. Apply ointment twice a day for two to three days then switch to a regular moisturizer (like Aveeno, Eucerin, Keri, Lubriderm, Curel, Jergens, or Vaseline Intensive care). Apply moisturizer twice a day for the remainder of two weeks. Do not use lotions that contain color, fragrance or sparkles until the healing is complete (usually anywhere from ten days to two weeks; possibly longer for slower healers).
- Your skin will form a protective layer no matter what you do (even if you put too much or too little moisturizer on it). It’s a personal balance; different for each individual. it will form a thick, hard scab that may crack when you move. When you form this kind of a scab, the ink sits within it and slowly heals into the skin. When the tattoo is kept moist, it doesn’t have a chance to form a scab but does form a thin membrane to protect the tattoo while it heals. This layer peels off in a similar fashion to a sunburn (do not peel your tattoo as you will pull the ink out!) and it is perfectly normal to see small flakes of colored skin falling off during this stage of healing.
- You must keep your tattoo clean. However, long showers or baths must be avoided for 2 weeks. Prolonged soaking can and will loosen scabs if any have formed, or will soak through the soft tissue turning it into a soggy mess and cause your ink to flow down the drain (this includes swimming in the ocean, using a pool, hot tub or sauna). Short showers are best– under ten minutes if possible.
- Please refrain from scratching or picking at the tattoo. Scrubbing with a washcloth can be very harsh and will cause your colors to fade. Disrupting the tattoo while it’s healing can also create scar tissue. It is normal for the tattoo to become very itchy during the healing time. To relieve this, spray the tattoo with rubbing alcohol or slap it with your hand (this will sting and take away the itch).
- No buts about it, the sun is BAD for your tattoo– even if you’ve had it for a long time. A sunburn on a new tattoo can cause a lot of problems. It will dry it out and cause it to form a horrendous scab and will result in the piece fading before it’s even had a chance to heal. Plus, sunburns drastically prolong healing time and promote scarring in a new tattoo. Wait until your tattoo is fully healed to go back into the sun or use a tanning bed and make sure you put on a high quality SUNBLOCK (not sunscreen). Remember not to make the mistake of applying sunblock while the tattoo is still healing. The tattoo is under your skin, and your tan will form above it. If you get too dark, some colors (white, yellow, pink, and orange) may not show up as brightly as they could. Over time, excessive exposure to sunlight will cause your tattoo to fade no matter what colors are used.