Many tattoo artists have their own way of recommending aftercare which can lead to confusion. Because I offer my clients one free touch-up within the year of their tattoo, it is important they follow my aftercare, as improper care may void their free touch-up.
Bandages Some people’s skin may be sensitive/react to the bandage’s adhesive. This may look like a red line surrounding the outside perimeter of the bandage, or in severe cases welting. Most people don’t have any reaction. If you do find you are becoming sensitive to it, please carefully remove the bandage sooner than later. (Even if it is before the recommended minimum 24-hour mark.)
How long do I leave the bandage on? Leave the bandage on for a minimum of 24 hours, up to a maximum of 3 days. During this time, it is normal to see a small build-up of fluid under the bandage. This is a mix of plasma and excess ink. Don’t worry it is not your tattoo coming off.
Bandage removal It is easiest to remove the bandage in the shower (not bath), while using warm to hot water. While in the shower, remove the bandage slowly, avoid a ripping motion, as it may remove forming scabs, or tear the skin. Once the bandage is removed, massage the area with a mild, non-abrasive, non-scented soap. (GoatSoap" and "Pears" brands are good soap options due to their gentle nature, affordability, and that they are easy to obtain.) Take care to remove excess ink, fluid, and residue. Do not scrub! Do not let the full force of the shower run on your tattoo, let the water run indirectly on your body, or use a low-pressure setting. Once clean, splash with cold water to close up your pores. When you are out of the shower, use a disposable towel, or a fresh dry towel straight from the dryer to pat the tattoo dry. do not rub the area. Allow 5 additional minutes of air-dry time before applying any lotion.
When to moisturize Do not lotion until the area starts to feel tight, much like a sunburn. This can be anywhere from 1-3 days. When it's ready to start lotioning, apply a very thin layer, just enough so it is shiny. Be sure to only use non-abrasive, fragrance-free, water-based lotions. NO oil/petrolium based lotion/s! Apply the lotion 1 - 2 x a day as needed. Be careful not to over-moisturize as it can clog your pores, and not allow your tattoo to breathe - which can result in a tougher healing process.
What to use for Lotion Use only non-abrasive, fragrance-free, water-based lotions. NO oil (Petrolium based) lotions! There are many safe brands and options for lotions. The two commonly recommended moisturizers within the tattoo community are “Aveeno’s Active Naturals” (The green bottle with NO added shea butter.) and/or “Lubriderm”.
Reasons to keep your tattoo moisturized
Helps with tattoo itching · Helps tattoo cracking · Assists with tattoo peeling issues · Keeps the skin hydrated and healthy · Assists with tattoo flaking and scabbing · Helps the area from becoming too dry · Promotes new skin cells · Faster healing.
Healing time! Tattoos take several months to fully heal with the first 3 weeks/month being the most important, and the first 24 hours being the most crucial. For the full three weeks of healing use mild, non-abrasive, non-scented soap as mentioned above, 1-2x a day on the tattooed area. The most important part of tattoo aftercare is keeping the area clean and dry. AVOID the following for the first three weeks/month of your tattoo healing
Tanning beds · Excess sweating · Swimming/Hot Tubs · Pressure on the area · Steam rooms/Saunas · Tight clothes · Bathes (Showering is fine) · Sun exposure · Pets licking/interacting with the area. · Sleeping on your tattoo
Infection Infection is not super common, but something to be aware of as bacteria is all around us and there is no such thing as no risk. Taking care of your tattoo while it is healing is the best way to avoid possible infection. It is normal for your tattoo to be sore, and have some redness, scabbing, itching, bruising, and some ‘leakage’. (“Leakage” is clear, or light-yellow plasma.) As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to me sooner rather than later.
REMEMBER Your tattoo is an open wound. Keep it clean, and moisturized, allow it to dry, and let it breathe. Do not itch, pick, rub, or scratch it. Your tattoo is an investment, take care of it!