Updated: Aug 15, 2021
So you’ve just been and got some fresh ink… after your tattoo, your artist will always run through the aftercare process with you, however, if they have not done this then here is how to look after your new tattoo.
Now, not every artist's aftercare routine is the same so this may be slightly different from what you’ve heard before and that’s fine. You do whatever works best for you.
Firstly, once your tattoo has been wrapped up it must stay covered for a minimum of 2 hours. Depending on the size of the tattoo and the amount of work you have had done, the time scale in which you should keep it covered may vary. For small tattoos that consist of mainly line work or dot work, 2 hours is fine as there is little trauma to the skin. However, if you’ve had some heavy line work, shading, and/or color I would suggest keeping it covered for a minimum of 4 hours.
Once you have kept your new tattoo covered for the required time, the next thing to do is give it a clean. When you remove the wrapping there may be some residual ink, vaseline, and blood, this is completely normal and nothing to worry about. Now to clean your new tattoo I always recommend making sure your hands are clean and then giving it a very gentle wash using the palm of your hand under warm water using unscented antibacterial soap such as carex.
After you have cleaned your new tattoo and it is now looking fresh, I always recommend using kitchen roll or paper towel to dry it rather than using a towel. This is simply because a towel is made up of fibers and can hold dirt from previous uses. So a fresh piece of kitchen roll is perfect and just dab and press it over the tattoo, do NOT scrub it with kitchen roll because it will feel like 80 grit sandpaper. Once dried allow some air to it for about half an hour before putting any sort of cream or balms on it.
What cream do I put on it and how often? This is a very common question and every artist will have a different answer depending on what they think works best. It really comes down to what works best for you, follow what your artist tells you and adjust the routine to suit your body. There are so many tattoo aftercare creams and balms out there now so there will be one to suit you. The ones I have personally used and will always recommend are hustle butter deluxe tattoo care, bam balm tattoo aftercare, palmers cocoa butter and this one I have not tried personally but have had good feedback from my clients is Tattoo Goo. How often do I put cream on? A common mistake people make is by thinking if I put loads of cream on it will heal faster, you couldn’t be more wrong. You need to allow the tattoo to dry out so that the skin will actually heal, drowning the skin in cream is keeping the skin moist and not allowing the tattoo to heal. You have to treat your tattoo like a cut essentially, you want it to dry out so it will scab and peel and fall off when it’s ready. I recommend putting a very small amount of cream on first thing in the morning and last thing at night as I personally think any more than that is too much and the healing time can take longer, but as I have said it’s a matter of personal preference and what works best for you. If your tattoo is super dry through the day then pop some aftercare on it but just stick to a small amount.
Finally, the dos and don’ts. No swimming pools, no hot tubs, no saunas, no swimming in the sea/rivers, no sunbeds, no sunbathing, and no baths for a minimum of 2-3 weeks. Showers are fine but try to keep your tattoo out of the flow of water if possible, sometimes it is hard depending on the placement of the tattoo. Exercise and gym work is fine after the first 3-4 days just to give your new tattoo time to start the healing process before working the muscles and skin. The biggest thing is to keep it clean, if you keep it clean there should be no issues in the healing process. If you do have any issues or queries about the healing process then please contact your artist and they will help you out and give you the advice you need.