Leave your bandage on for a minimum of four (4) hours, but no more than twelve (12) hours. This means you have to wait to show your friends—even pulling up the corner to sneak a peak can pull at your fresh tattoo causing irritation. When it’s time to remove your bandage, get in the shower and get the bandage completely wet so that if your bandage is sticking to your tattoo, you won’t damage it by pulling at it.
Once the bandage has been removed, clean the area using your fingertips and a mild soap such as Ivory, Dove, or Softsoap. If using a bar soap, soap your fingertips and not the tattoo. Avoid anything containing fragrance, aloe vera, or astringents such as witchhazel or anything containing rubbing alcohol. After your shower, gently pat the tattoo dry with a clean towel and let it air dry for one hour. Apply a small amount of salve to the tattoo with clean hands, making sure to dab away any excess with a paper towel. Apply it sparingly though… use thing coats. The first night, you need clean sheets on your bed.
Until your tattoo is completely healed, you will need to clean your tattoo at least once a day. Follow the regimen described above. You will also need to keep your tattoo moisturized until it is fully healed. There are a few products you can use to keep your tattoo moisturized. Your artist may prefer one above others. Whatever you use, you must always remember to wash your hands before you touch your tattoo, and this includes applying ointments or lotions.
Recommended Moisturizers or Ointments
Palmer’s Cocoa Butter
What to Avoid
Here is a list of things you need to avoid while your tattoo is healing. Don’t forget, you paid for this in money and pain. Consider this list as insurance that your tattoo will look the way it is intended.
- Restrictive clothing (consider waistbands, tight clothing, shoes, bra straps, etc)
- Itching the tattoo
- Public Gyms
- Shaving over the tattoo
- Swimming pools
- Hot tubs
- Touching your tattoo with dirty hands
- Direct sunlight!
More Info on Moisturizer
Ingredients to avoid in your moisturizers include fragrances, aloe vera, and heavy amounts of petroleum or alcohol. Some ingredients that may cause irritation in certain individuals include lanolin or vitamin E. It is possible for some people to have a reaction to any type of moisturizer. Usually a bad reaction includes small raised bumps that resemble pimples. If this happens to you, call your artist immediately so they can recommend something to switch to.
One of the most common misconceptions with healing a tattoo is that more is better when it comes to ointment and lotion. Remember, you want your tattoo to breathe just as much as you don’t want it to dry out. Use the smallest amount you need to cover the surface of your tattoo. More can always be applied later. Listen to your body. If it feels dry, itchy, or tight, it’s probably time to apply more. Most people need to apply lotion about four or five times a day, but this depends a lot on your skin type. If you have very dry skin, you will probably need to apply your moisturizer more often.
Between days three and five it is normal for the tattoo to peel like a sunburn. Do not pick at it or scratch it. Instead, let the dead skin slough off as it naturally will in the shower or while you apply moisturizer.
Finally, understand that every tattoo heals differently. Many factors go into how your tattoo heals, including your skin type, its location on your body, climate, and the method of your artist. Many types of healing are considered normal. If at any point you are uneasy or unsure about how your tattoo is healing, never hesitate to call your artist. We would rather you call and it be nothing, than to have something going wrong that can easily be helped. Some people heal very quickly with little to no scabbing, while others take longer and seem to scan no matter what they do.
Almost everyone has small amounts of “seeping” in the first couple days, which is mostly plasma with small amounts of ink pushing out of the skin. Because of this, you may want to consider wearing clothing that you aren’t so attached to, as the ink can leave stains. Some people have swelling, especially on and near hands and feet. Applying an ice pack for ten minutes or taking ibuprofen can relieve this. If your tattoo is below the knee, elevating it during the first three days or so is very helpful.
You will know your tattoo is completely healed when there is no dead skin (similar to a sunburn) on or around the tattoo. After your tattoo is completely healed, always keep sun block on your tattoo to ensure a long life for your art.
Remember, the hard part is over. Just make sure that you follow these directions, and we’ll see you soon for your next one!
If you have any questions or concerns about the healing of your tattoo ask us first!
When a tattoo isn’t cared for properly, it can lead to heavy scabbing, loss of color, infections, or other adverse reactions. Caring for your tattoo requires attention, but after your physical and financial investments, it’s important and worthwhile to take all of the proper steps.
Everyone heals differently, so it is important to be in touch with your artist if you have any questions or concerns. Always listen to your artist before you listen to your friends. Your artist will know how their work typically heals and will know what should or should not be done to ensure the best results.