It is important that your tattoo is not exposed to SUN, CHLORINE or WILDWATER until your tattoo is completely healed (preferably longer).
Now that you’ve got a brand new tattoo, WHAT COMES NEXT? Proper aftercare is the MOST IMPORTANT step in the tattooing process. A dedicated aftercare regimen is not only essential for keeping your tattoo looking vibrant, but also helps to protect your overall health. Committing to your artists instructions will ensure that your tattoo looks fantastic for years to come. Follow this complete aftercare guide for a stunning, healthy tattoo...
The First 2-3 Days of Caring for Your Fresh Tattoo
Approximately 2-3 hours after your tattoo-session, you must remove the bandage (unless your tattoo artist has recommended otherwise. *Second skin bandages can stay on for as long as 24-48 hours).
Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your tattoo. For the first two-three days you should treat it like its an open wound that is susceptible to all sorts of germs and bacteria, be sure to always practice good hygiene.
Do not scrub. Use your hands only when washing your tattoo. Towels, washcloths, and loofahs are too harsh and will exfoliate your raw skin.
Wash, Dry, & Apply 3-4 Times A Day (or as needed)
WASH - Using clean hands, gently but firmly wash your new tattoo in lukewarm water using a mild soap or a suitable product like Sorry Mom Tattoo Cleanser (AVOID HOT WATER as it can potentially damage the tattooed area). Be GENTLE BUT THUROUGH. Be sure to gently wash off surplus ink, fluid and plasma. Removing the plasma at this stage will significantly reduce scabbing later on.
DRY - Pat your tattoo completely dry with a clean paper towel. Don’t dry your tattoo with a used or shared cloth towel. It’s preferred practice to dry your tattoo with a paper towel but if you must opt for a regular towel, please dedicate a clean towel to use exclusively for your tattoo. If your skin is extra sensitive and hurts to pat dry after washing, you can use a hair dryer on a cool setting to dry your tattoo instead. Make sure your tattoo is completely dry before you apply lotion or ointment. If not, it could trap moisture between your skin and the ointment causing scabs to swell or become gooey.
APPLY - Spread a THIN LAYER OF FRAGRANCE-FREE LOTION onto the tattooed area. We recommend lotions like Lubriderm or Curel, or a specialized product like Sorry Mom Tattoo Balm. We caution against the use of petroleum based ointments (like Aquaphor), despite their popularity in the past as suitable tattoo aftercare. It is extremely important not to use too much lotion or balm, as the tattoo must be able to breathe. You have applied just enough, if you are unable to see the lotion or balm after it has been applied. Some people heal faster, and their skin dries rapidly. In that case, you can apply the lotion or balm more often.
*We recommend using Sorry Mom Tattoo Balm because it has regenerative, protective, and anti-bacterial properties and it is formulated to soothe itchy, freshly tattooed skin.
The Next 10 Days
Repeat the same wash-dry-apply routine as the days before, about 3-4 times a day.
Your tattoo should be kept moisturized (but not suffocated) to minimize scabbing. If you get a scab, DON’T PICK AT IT. If the scab is not allowed to fall off naturally then there is a risk that the ink may fall out.
In most cases, peeling and/or scabbing will occur. This is a natural process. DON’T PICK AT IT. It is normal to experience itching during this period, but please be careful NOT TO PICK AT IT or peel skin off of the tattoo as this may damage the ink and color vibrancy.
What To Expect
HOW FAST YOUR TATTOO HEALS depends on your age, health, hygiene, and where on your body you get it. It may take anywhere from 2-6 weeks before your tattoo heals and even then, the skin may remain sensitive for months after the tattoo procedure. Everyone’s healing process looks a little different. Some places like your ribcage, where there isn’t a lot of fat or muscle, might take longer to heal than say, a bicep. Either way, everyone goes through similar healing processes.
YOUR TATTOO MIGHT BE SWOLLEN. When you first remove the bandage that your tattoo artist put on, you should expect your new tattoo to look swollen, red, bloody, and sometimes bruised. Sometimes the area around the tattoo site can be quite swollen as well. These are normal, temporary, bodily reactions to trauma, so don’t worry! Tattoo machines pierce the skin up to 3,000 times per minute, so a little bit of blood and swelling should be expected. Most of the swelling should subside within 24-48 hours. EXTREME SWELLING CAN CAUSE BLOW OUTS even with excellent line work. Some people use ibuprofen to help bring down the pain and swelling (Please consult a physician before taking any medications.) A clean, cool compress can CAREFULLY be used to help bring down swelling AROUND the tattoo site. Avoid touching the tattoo directly and DO NOT use a cold compress for more than a few minutes at a time. Elevation is also helpful to reduce swelling. When resting, elevate the procedure site higher than your heart. Movement can also help with swelling. A gentle walk or stretch is helpful, but not to the point of discomfort.
EXPECT THE AREA TO GET A BIT MESSY. Your new tattoo will ooze all sorts of fluids for the first few days including blood, clear plasma, lymphatic fluid, and ink. These are signs that your body recognizes the trauma, and is sending cells to repair it. The oozing should subside within a few days. TIP- to avoid staining your bedding, use clean old sheets that you don’t care much about in case your tattoo seeps/leaks while you are sleeping.
EXPECT SCABBING, ITCHING, & FLAKING. Scabs are a protective layer that covers a wound on your skin, aka, the tattoo. It keeps out debris, bacteria, and germs. If scabs are forming, that is a sign that your tattoo is healing properly and your body is doing what it can to repair itself. The downside to this protective layer is that it may itch a bit (a LOT actually), but this should only last a few days. DON’T PICK AT IT. As the scabs naturally fall off, they will reveal new, healthy skin underneath. Your tattoo might not look to great for the first few days, but you’ll have to trust the process. After the scabs and dead skin have flaked off, your tattoo is now fully healed. You shouldn’t expect any more swelling, bleeding, or ink leaching. TIP- Gently apply a cold compress to immediately take away the itchiness without having to scratch. This should only be done AFTER your skins top layer has completely healed.
TATTOO FLU - YOU MIGHT FEEL UNDER THE WEATHER. Your body may feel under-the-weather for a couple days, especially if you got a bigger tattoo. You might even feel like you’ve got a cold, which is surprisingly normal. The stress that you’ve put your body through can affect your immune system, and increase your chances of getting sick, but in a few days, you should be feeling as good as new! Be sure to get plenty of rest and hydrate. KEEP IN MIND that the more often you get tattooed, the easier the process will become. Due to the immune response triggered by a tattoo session, people who get tattooed often tend to have strong immune systems.
DON’T FRET IF YOUR TATTOO DOESN’T LOOK VERY CRISP AND BRIGHT YET. The deeper layers of your skin still need to repair themselves, which is why aftercare is still important even after your tattoo is healed. Continue to use lotion and sunscreen.
STAY HYDRATED. Drink lots of water. Your tattoo only looks as good as your skin. The more you hydrate, the better, and more vivid your tattoo will look.
DO NOT LISTEN TO THE ADVICE OF FRIENDS OR FAMILY. A lot of people might say they know ways to hasten your tattoo’s healing process. Always stick to your artist’s instructions, they know how to best to heal their work.
How To Identify An Infection
Differentiating normal tattoo healing vs. what you should seek medial attention for can be tricky. Lucky for us, infections from tattoos are very rare these days, with only 0.5-6% of tattooed adults experiencing one. However, they are still a real possibility. If you experience the following, seek medical attention and contact your tattoo artist immediately.
THE FOLLOWING IS NOT NORMAL
Intense Pain - some pain is expected
Worsening Swelling – swelling should subside after a few days
Excessive Bleeding or Pus Draining – weeping of fluids is normal for the first few days. Pus is not.
Firm Bumps (granulomas)
Photosensitivity (sunlight is painful) after the initial healing period.
Fever, Chills, Sweats
Adhesive Allergy - Some people have an allergic reaction to the adhesive in some bandages, especially second skin bandages like Sani-Derm and similar products. IF YOU DEVELOP A RASH CONTACT YOUR ARTIST AND/OR HEALTH CARE PROVIDOR. Don't worry, the rash will usually go away on its own once you remove the bandage.
Ink Allergy - Some people can be sensitive to certain ink (especially the color red). It may sometimes cause blistering and prolonged healing. IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE AN INK ALLERGY, CONTACT YOUR ARTIST AND/OR HEALTH CARE PROVIDOR. In most cases a touch up can help correct most of the damage done as the result of an allergic reaction. If you know you have an ink sensitivity we recommend asking for a spot test when trying new ink, before you commit to a full session.
Subsequent & Continued Care
Just as you look after your body and your skin, you also need to take good care of your tattoo. Among other things, it also involves the use of SUNSCREEN. The rays of the sun are harmful to the skin and they make the colors of your tattoo fade over time. We recommend a minimum of SPF 30 to protect your tattoo (and the rest of your body) from the sun.
Moisturize your tattoo regularly with lotion. If you have dry skin, your tattoo will look less sharp, pale, and ashen. Using lotion that is rich in vitamin E will help keep colors and lines looking sharper for longer.