Everything fades with time. Love, memories, even your new tattoo. However, if you take care of your skin and your tattoo, its 'new look' will last a long time.
There are so many aftercare recommendations and products out there. Some deliver and some do not. The most important thing (which is #1 on this list) is to listen to your tattooist - he or she will inform you precisely what you must do to properly care for your tattoo, all based on the results they’ve seen over many years of experience. The vast majority of problems with tattoo healing are caused from failing to follow directions.
The pointers below are for general care, and are very basic, time-tested guidelines. If any of these differ from what your are instructed, follow the advice of your artist. Remember that people have different types of skin, allergies, potentials for reactions, etc, so everyone will naturally heal differently.
Pay attention to what your tattooist tells you and do precisely what he or she instructs. They’re a professional with experience and they will certainly know what product and healing technique works best for their own work, and for their clients. Keep in mind, if you change the aftercare for whatever reason, the tattooist is not obliged to touch up your tattoo free of cost. It is your responsibility to take care of your tattoo once you leave the studio.
After 2-4 hours of receiving the tattoo, gently remove the bandage and hand wash the tattoo lightly & thoroughly with your (CLEAN) fingers. Use an unscented, anti-bacterial soap. Don’t use any sort of astringents, alcohols or peroxide to clean the tattoo because it will hurt and potentially damage the healing proces. Remember, your new tattoo is just like an open injury. Dab dry with a clean paper towel. If you get the tattoo late in the evening, leave the bandage on overnight to protect your sheets from excess fluids and protect your tattoo from any hair or dirt. DO NOT WRAP YOUR TATTOO AGAIN.
It is very common for a new tattoo be sensitive, red, or slightly inflamed. Most people experience some irritation a day or so after getting a new tattoo. This can differ depending on the size, placement and amount of work put in the tattoo. If these symptoms continue longer than 3 or 4 days, call your tattooist so you can set up a time to come to the shop so they can see it and advise you.
Your tattoo will 'weep' the first couple of days. The fluid may be clear or slightly colored the same as your tattoo. This is normal and it does not indicate that your tattoo is coming out. Just clean it regularly as instructed and let it go through the natural healing process. Your body knows how to heal itself, you’re just assisting it .
Keep your tattoo slightly lubricated. If you allow it to dry out too much, it can lead to a thick scab formation which you do not want. Drying out your tattoo can cause it to slow the healing process and could even harm the tattoo. Your tattooist will likely advise a salve or lotion to use and how often to apply it to your new tattoo. DO NOT OVERSATURATE your tattoo! Too much of any salve, lotion etc. on your tattoo and it cannot breathe which slows the healing process. A very light coat is all that is needed.
Within a couple of days to a week, a thin layer of skin will start to flake off from the whole tattoo, kind of like the peeling you receive from sunburn. Again this is totally normal. It’s essentially the scabby layer and dead skin coming off. Do not scratch it or play with it! It will probably itch throughout this time, but do not scratch! Your tattoo will still be extremely delicate and you could end up scratching it open. One remedy for the itch is to lightly pat or slap it with a clean paper towel.
Do not soak your tattoo for at least two weeks from the day it has been done. This means no bathing or swimming (using a sauna is also not recommended). Showering is entirely great, in fact cleaning your tattoo under the shower is probably the simplest way to do it.
Do not get in a tanning bed or expose your tattoo to direct sunlight for at least two weeks. UV rays damage the skin and will fade your tattoo’s color. This rule applies forever. - even after your tattoo heals. Once it’s healed, protect it by using the highest UV protection sunblock you can find when exposed to the sun.
Your tattoo may take between 1 to 4 weeks to recover. Again the healing process will depend on your skin type, on the aftercare product you use, the size, the position, and style of the tattoo. A full color tattoo will generally take longer to heal as compared to a grey-shaded piece. If you get a rash or any type of unusual signs on or around the tattoo, contact your tattooist immediately.
Always ask for help when you are not sure of how to take care of your tattoo. You can always consult your own medical professional if you experience any sort of skin reaction or if the tattooed area becomes infected, but your tattoo artist is the first resource you should go to. A professional tattooist will have given you lots of tattoo care recommendations prior to you leaving the shop. However, that does not mean you cannot return to him or her if you encounter issues or need help or any sort of assistance. They are available to help.
Well there you have it! Healing a tattoo is truly not all that challenging. Normally individuals make mistakes when they think too much and begin to overdo things. By using good quality tattoo aftercare products, you’ll minimize the threat of infection and help to prevent and minimize scabbing. Some people don’t use anything on healing tattoos and experience will guide you over time. Follow the advice of your artist until then.
The Long Term
Don’t forget: Looking after your tattoo is not really just for a week or so, it’s for life! The better condition your skin is in, the better the tattoo will look and last over the years. Moisturize daily and make use of sun block on every occasion. Bright, clean, crisp tattoos are a fantastic thing to have. The body art you collect will stay with you for the rest of your life. So it is well worth the time and efforts to appropriately care for them while they are healing, and then beyond.