Tattoo aftercare is essential if you want your tattoo to look great and stay looking great for years to come. The two most essential things to remember when getting a new tat are to choose a reputable, experienced and sober artist and to do the right new tattoo care at home to make sure it heals without damage or scarring.
These simple tattoo care tips can help you make the best of the work you’ve had done. You can easily ruin your new tattoo with poor aftercare, but you can make it last longer and look brighter if you take the right actions from day one.
Here are some steps for great tattoo aftercare:
1. Pay attention to the tattoo artist. If you’ve done your homework and found a great tattoo artist with a strong reputation, he or she will have a good idea about what kind of new tattoo care works best. Each artist has somewhat different ideas about what products to use and exactly when to do what, but you won’t go far wrong following the advice of a competent professional. If you’re not so sure how competent your professional is, you’ll have to develop your own plan.
2. Keep the bandage on for a while. Depending on the size. location and depth, you’ll want the bandage to remain on for two to 24 hours. The tattooist should thoroughly clean the area and apply an antibacterial ointment before you leave. While you’ll probably want to look at your new work, you’ll get best results if you resist all temptation and wait to see how things really come out until a few hours later. You don’t want to subject yourself to bacteria in the air any sooner than necessary.
3. Carefully remove the bandage when enough time has passed. If your artist used plastic wrap, it needs to come off after no more than a couple of hours. Breathable bandaging can stay on longer. Again, follow the advice of the artist if you trust him or her. It’s their job to know — and the best timing depends on a variety of factors, including where on the body the tattoo is and how it was done.
4. Clean the tattoo. You can do that with just soap and water. But most people recommend something made specifically for the purpose. There are several tattoo care kit choices available online that you can purchase in advance and have ready. Be sure you use lukewarm water, never hold the tat under running water and rub gently. You need to get rid of all blood and leaked ink, however.
5. Consider air drying the tattoo. After patting dry with a paper towel, don’t rub at all as this will cause unpleasant and potentially damaging irritation. Let the new work stay uncovered for 20 minutes or even up to an hour. This allows for some healing, lets the moisture evaporate and gives you time to get a good look at how your ink is looking.
6. Apply some ointment. Your tattoo after care kit contains specific instructions, but after air drying is when you use the ointment to protect your new work from bacteria. You don’t want to suffocate it, though, because your skin needs air to heal. Forget about Vaseline since it’s too heavy and can clog pores, leading to bumps and poor healing.
7. Keep up the good work. Don’t stop treating your new tattoo too soon. You need serious treatment daily for up to three to six weeks. The exact time that healing takes depends on how big the tat is and how healthy you are. Some people simply heal faster than others. You can expect some peeling and flaking like you’d experience from a sunburn. This is normal and won’t mess up the color.
A Few Other Points On New Tattoo Care
You want everything to look great for years to come, so it’s very important to take the right actions right away, use a good tattoo care kit and not make too many mistakes in the way you treat your new tattoo. That means no soaking of the tattoo area until it’s completely healed, no direct sunlight (ever, if possible) and no scratching or picking at it. Soaking can lead to infection and remove color, sunlight fades color and scratching causes infection and even scarring.
It’s also best to keep tight-fitting clothes off your new tat and avoid excessive sweating or anything that stretches the skin in the area — like working out — until healing is complete. Keep swelling down with over-the-counter painkillers.
When you take new tattoo care seriously, your new tat can last you a lifetime. When you mess up, you’ll be in for years of something that just doesn’t look right. Remember, cover-ups don’t always work well and tat removal is complex and expensive, so it’s best to take care of your work so it will look like you want it to.