The Basics: Take off your bandage after 2-4 hours, wash your tattoo well with soap and water, pat dry, let it air out.
DO NOT apply any creams or ointments to it.
For the first night you may re-wrap it in cling film to prevent sticking to bedsheets.
Make sure your bedsheets and blankets are clean, very important.
Wash your tattoo morning and night with warm soapy water for 7-10 days or until healed.
On day 3 you may apply some light moisturiser lotion (Vaseline Dry Skin is what we recommend) once a day or every other day, as little as possible, if at all. Your tattoo will heal naturally on its on.
NEVER apply Bepanthen, petroleum jelly, alcohol or other creams and lotions without asking your artist.
Keep your tattoo clean, out of the pool/ocean for 1 week minimum, out of the sun for 3 weeks minimum.
Don’t wear tight clothing over your tattoo that can cause friction, this will ruin your tattoo quickly. <<< Super important
Don’t pick at your tattoo while its healing.
Don’t listen to tattoo experts on how to heal YOUR tattoo for at least one month.
Any questions call the shop asap on 8399 1973
The Full story below…
This page is a two-parter on aftercare. The formal ones listed below and then an article I wrote for Inked Magazine on the subject of aftercare. Take what you can from both. If I have tattooed you and you are still uncertain as to what to do please contact me!
Having a tattoo done properly by a professional, talented and hygenic tattooist is only half the battle, the rest is up to you. By simply not following one or two of the listed instructions you could ruin or mar an otherwise beautiful piece of art. Please take the time to read this carefully and if possible print it out to keep as reference.
In addition to what is written here please read my column in issue #4 of Australian Ink that deals specifically with proper Tattoo Aftercare procedures.
There is no ‘right’ way to heal a tattoo as defined by the industry but there are several things that everyone agrees on. From my years of experience all over the world and from working with a number of other tattoo artists I have found that following these procedures will produce a nice and healthy healed tattoo. If you have been told something else by another artist, shop or friend please keep in mind that if you trusted me to tattoo you in the first place then it is probably best if you trust me to heal your tattoo.
Not following these guidelines may affect your eligibility for a free touch- up in the event that you need one. I guarantee all my work but you must also do your part.
Remove the dressing in 3 to 4 hours
The purpose of the dressing is to protect your new tattoo from filth, dirty hands, airborne bacteria and other infectious things that we all come into contact during the course of the day. The other reason is to keep the small amount of blood and lymph fluid that will seep from dripping onto your clothes. A freshly done tattoo will seep fluids for about 30 minutes after the procedure, this is normal, and with a plastic wrapping it does not get absorbed into the bandage, it remains locked in. Do not be alarmed. On larger tattoos, you may wish to leave the bandage on even longer to give the entire area a period of time to seal up and be ready to face the outside world. The dressing should remain on for at least 3 hours, but no longer than twelve. Unless told otherwise by your tattoo artist, DO NOT RE-BANDAGE.
If I do tell you to rebandage then please do it as it for your own good, make sure you DO NOT apply cream before rebandaging.. it is not necessary and can cause more problems than do good. If I do instruct you to rebandage with cling film then do it like this; rebandage at night before bed for sleeping, and remove bandage in the morning before showering. If going to work or wearing clothes all day, then again rebandage for the first day or two for your normal routine, meaning day 1 and 2 the day AFTER getting tattooed, same goes with sleeping. After that you should be fine following the rest of the instructions. This will apply if you have gotten a large section shaded in or colored, it is not usually necessary to rebandage after only outlining. Email me or ring the shop if you are unsure of anything.
Wash your tattoo with soap and water, but wash your hands first!
This is one of the most important steps in the care of your tattoo. As soon as you remove the dressing you must wash the tattoo thoroughly with warm water, mild soap and a clean washcloth. The area will be tender, but it is important to remove all the dried blood, ink and fluid. This is the only time you should use a washcloth while your tattoo is healing. When the tattoo has been thoroughly cleaned, pat it dry with a clean towel. Remember – only use a washcloth this once!
Keep your tattoo from drying out
For the first 36-48 hours after getting your tattoo, all you need to do is wash it morning and night very gently with a mild soap, warm water and your fingertips, no washcloth. Also, keep it out of harms way, no bodily fluids or other possibly infectious things should ever come into contact with a healing tattoo. It is not necessary at this point to apply any creams or lotions. Wear loose cotton clothing when possible and keep your tattoo out of direct sunlight at all times for the first 30 days. It is perfectly normal for your new tattoo to seep and push out ink and leave marks on sheets and clothes, be careful! But don’t panic,
NEVER apply alcohol, peroxide, POLYSPORIN, Vaseline, calamine lotion or any other type of ointment without first consulting YOUR tattoo artist, friends may mean well, but can cause more harm than good when it comes to tattoo advice. Do not listen to any tattoo advice from experts in bars for at least one month after getting your tattoo.
Wash your tattoo daily
After the second day of washing and patting dry your tattoo, it will start to feel a little dry and tight as it heals naturally. This is good. At this point you can apply and rub into the skin a small amount of Vaseline Dry Skin Lotion available from your local pharmacy, supermarket or convenience store. This will ensure a quick natural healing process and prevent your tattoo from unnecessarily drowning in cream, resulting in colour loss. Natural healing is good and healthy, the cream only acts to keep the tattoo moist and supple. Repeat this exact process 1-2 times a day for 3 days or as needed. Don’t overdo it.
If a scab does form, do not pick at it
Most tattoos heal in 3 to 10 days. When properly cared for by a healthy individual most tattoos are healed with only a light flaking, in about 5 to 7 days. Occasionally a scab will form. If a scab should form, do not pick or scratch at it or help it to fall off. When a scab does form, the itching that accompanies it is normal. A thin application of cream will generally ease the itching, make sure to remove the excess. If you do pick at the scab a new one will form and you will probably suffer from colour loss. After your initial flake falls off, some people experience a secondary flake known as milky skin. If, after healing, your colour seems to be cloudy, but brightens up when wet or when lotion is applied, then you have milky skin. This will go away in a few days to a week with regular application of cream and the avoidance of sunlight.
Avoid excessive water and direct sunlight
You may bath or shower with your new tattoo. If you bath, do not allow your new tattoo to remain submerged for more than a few moments. Do not allow the shower to beat on a fresh or healing tattoo. This may prematurely release any flaking that you may have, resulting in colour loss. Always pat your tattoo dry. Do not be alarmed if some of the flake should happen to fall off. This is normal after 3 to 5 days. Do not expose your new tattoo to direct sunlight ever. A new tattoo has no sunblocking capabilities and will sunburn in as little as 3 minutes in direct sunlight. Sunburn will result in prolonged healing time, excessive scabbing and certainly some colour loss.
Do not take fully submerged baths, swim in the sea (or any fresh water) until ALL the flakiness has stopped and it is fully healed, and for chlorine pools give it about 3 extra days to avoid burns.
Avoid tight clothing and go easy!
Avoid wearing exotic materials, tight, new, or restrictive clothing in the area of your new tattoo. New clothes from the factory carry lots of infectious material and toxic chemicals, wash those new clothes first. Tight clothing and nylons, polyesters etc can rub and wear off the protective coating on your tattoo, this increases healing time and can cause colour loss and infection. For the first week take it easy at the gym and whatever physical activities that can cause excess perspiration and let your tattoo heal. Its only a week, a nice tattoo lasts a lifetime, just like a blotchy one. It is solely up to you.
Your new tattoo has been applied under the strictest guidelines. All needles are new and sterilized in a hospital type steam and pressure sterilizer known as an autoclave. All tubes are sterilized in the same manner and packaged in separate bags. The tube assemblies used for each client remain in a sealed, sterile bag until they are removed in front of the client. Pigment receptacles, excess pigments, rinse cups, and any other items are disposed of after use. Latex gloves are worn by the artist at all times. These too are disposed of after each use. There is no possible way that any bacteria or communicable disease can be transmitted while you receive a tattoo following these standardsI urge you not to listen to the advice of others. They did not apply your tattoo and therefore cannot know how to better heal it. Follow these instructions carefully and you will have a crisp, bright tattoo for the rest of your life. Disregard them and you will go through life wondering why your friends tattoo looks better than yours. If you are not sure about the way your tattoo is healing, then give me a call and tell us what’s up!
Every artist has his or her own way they like to tell their clients to heal their work and everyone recommends the kind of cream they think works best for them, and fair enough, this isn’t meant to contradict anyone else’s method or protocol or say anyone else is wrong. This is just my way. This is what I tell my clients every day… so if you’re interested, listen up!
There are two types of healing methods I use, one where the tattoo is re-bandaged and the other where the tattoo is left open after the initial bandage has been taken off. We’ll start with the open method first, which I recommend for outlines only, smaller tattoos in places where there isn’t much contact with clothes or shoes rubbing on them and people who are just going to chill for 4-5 days while their tattoos heal.
After being tattooed you’ve either been bandaged with cling film or a gauze type covering most likely, take this off after 2-12 hours, whatever is most convenient, it doesn’t make a difference in the early stages.
Wash your hands first before washing your tattoo, everytime.
FOR THE INITIAL WASH ONLY use a face cloth or corner of towel and give your tattoo a good washing with warm soapy water and get all the blood, Vaseline and ink off it.. it should feel nice and smooth after this washing.. if it feels slimy then keep washing. Once this has been done then pat it dry with a clean towel and let it air out.
For the first 2 days I don’t recommend putting any cream on it. Wash it gently everyday, morning and night using warm soapy water and your fingertips, no cloth at all. Pat it dry, no cream.
A lot of people will balk at that, but it makes it heal faster to let it breathe, the body heals fine on its own.. the cream is just to prevent dryness and cracking and if overused will suffocate the tattoo and make it goopy and scabby and leach color from it. This is bad. That said, sleep with clean sheets in the case of your fresh tattoo coming into contact with your bed, alternatively (as an example) wear a clean t-shirt to prevent your arm tattoo from sticking to the sheets and use the water from the shower to slowly unstick your tattoo from your shirt in the morning.. don’t pull it off, that’s what causes scabbing.
Day 3-7. When it starts to feel dry and tight you can apply a small amount of cream to it, rub it in gently until it disappears and use a paper towel to dab off the excess if there is any left after 5 minutes. A lot of people recommend Bepanthen Cream, its not ok, I don’t use it, I find it too greasy and unnecessary. I prefer Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion in the Vitamin E flavor. This is a very light, easily absorbable cream that doesn’t cause pimples or color leaching. I like it and my clients like it. In my experience using it 1-2 times per day for 5-10 days after the initial couple days usually suffices. Use as little cream as possible. Once the tattoo has flaked off and the skin is dry and milky you can use as much as you like, this is good for the tattoo at this point.
Its that easy, now the other way. I advise my clients to re-bandage their tattoos when we’ve done large coverage or the tattoo is in a place where it has constant contact with clothes rubbing on it throughout the day.
Follow the above instructions, as everything is the same as the first method up until the point of letting it air out. At this stage on Day 1-3, after the tattoo has dried out some, then re-apply a fresh piece of cling film to cover the tattooed area. Do not apply cream to the skin beforehand, it’s not necessary. Just wrap it up and tape it in place and put your clothes, shoes, pants whatever over the bandage and don’t worry about it! And makes it easy to sleep with as well, no sticking to the sheets.
Morning and night you should remove the bandage, clean your tattoo as outlined above, dry it, and re-apply a fresh piece of cling film. On the morning of the 4th day after getting tattooed you can remove your bandage for the last time and not apply another one. Just let it air out after washing and drying it.
You can follow the same instructions for the application of cream as above as well, give it day or 2 after removing the last bandage or until your tattoo feels dry and tight. And that’s it!
Simple things to remember and follow: No Sun at all, ever, for the first 3-4 weeks on your new tattoo. It will destroy it. Do not apply sun block to your tattoo for the first 4 weeks.
No Swimming for the first 7-10 days, longer for chlorine pools. The tattoo must have totally flaked off and be smooth before being submerged in the water for any amount of time. Showers are ok, baths and spa’s are not.
No picking, rubbing, scratching or ‘helping off’ of scabs or fresh tattoo areas. Very important, this will result in color loss.
Go easy or better yet, forego on training at the gym while healing, constant expanding and contracting of the tattooed skin area will certainly cause scabbing of your tattoo.
Don’t listen to tattoo experts in bars or clubs for at least 1 month.
Other creams people recommend are paw paw, sorbalene, neo-sporin, aloe vera gel, vaseline, assorted specialty tattoo aftercare products to numerous to list etc etc. They can all work for some people some of the time, and cause unnecessary problems just the same as much of the time, the biggest one being color loss. In the end its up to you whether you want to gamble messing up your tattoo.
That covers most areas of tattoo aftercare, you can check the section on my website for more info and if you are really in a bind send me an email through my website and if I can help you I will!