Getting a new tattoo can be exciting! But let’s not forget to take care of it otherwiseit can turn out dull or patchy when it was colorful and perfect when you just got it! There’s different kinds of aftercare. What you do two years down the road can affect your tattoo as well, but just for now we’re going to discuss after care for day one.
Okay, I know it, you know it, we all know there are thousands of different methods for tattoo aftercare. I’m just going to highlight the most common methods here.
Depending on the area and your artist, the tattoo will usually be cleaned and wrapped before you leave the shop. In the case that it isn’t, go ahead and ask if you need to have it wrapped. It may be up to personal preference. Keep in mind if you’re traveling home it may be good to do so in that event. Once you get home it’s a good rule of thumb to keep the wrap on for at least an hour. However long after that depends on your artists instructions and your preference. Once bed time rolls around you want to unwrap it, clean it gently with unscented antibacterial soap. Remember to run gently with lukewarm water until all the gooey stuff (blood and plasma) is gone. Wrap it up if you prefer and go to bed! If unwrapped wear loose clothing you don’t care about getting ink on
Now keeping it wrapped is optional at this point. I usually don’t unless I’m in a dirty public place. Now you want to go ahead and wash the tattoo 2 to 3 times a day. Really just once in the morning and once at night and any additional times if it gets dirty. Keep in mind not to over do it. If it will continually get dirty keep it wrapped. Now this is the time where you should be using lotion. The most recommended by artists is Aquaphor and A and D ointment. You want a thin layer so that it is barely shiney and able to breathe. A lot of people also find coconut oil to work also. I used it in healing the bottom half of my sleeve and it went perfect!
Continue to wash it morning and night as well as using the lotion. If it’s a small tattoo you may be able to switch to an unscented lotion (Scented ones burn…. A lot. Trust me) if your tattoo isn’t raw anymore and starting to scab up. If it’s a larger piece I wouldn’t recommend it quite yet.
Now it’s more of a judgement call. Unscented lotion or ointment. Depends on how fast you heal and scab up. Keep in mind everyone is different. Just make sure to keep washing it and you should be able to apply unscented lotion at this point.
Now is when I would say just wash it once a day, and apply lotion whenever it starts to feel dry. Stay away from thicker lotions as your tattoo still needs to breathe!
Your tattoo (unless it’s a larger one) should be mostly healed now. If you have a lot of scabs you may want to keep washing it as that can loosen them up. Otherwise lotion is all you should need. Remember: Do NOT Pick Your Scabs! This will pick color out and cause blotchy lines and discoloration and if an artist can tell you’ve picked scabs they usually want you to pay for an otherwise free touch up.
Things to remember
- Drink lots of water the week leading up to the tattoo and while it’s healing
- Do not shave or wax hair
- Do not leave it exposed to direct sunlight
- No submerging it in water
- No chlorine pools
- Alcohol and drugs will slow down the healing process
- Do NOT pick scabs
- Do NOT scratch the tattoo. Just pat it
Now you have a beautiful healed tattoo! There are other methods to healing such as dry healing. If you would like to learn more about what dry healing is and how to do it, leave me a comment so I can let you know! Every artist has their own aftercare instructions so listen to your artist. This is just a general guideline for if you forget or didn’t get an aftercare sheet. Thank you for reading!