Tattoo Aftercare Instructions

So, you’re back from a tattoo parlor and know nothing about taking care of your first tattoo. What to do next? Tattoo aftercare can seem confusing, but in fact, it’s very simple: the goal is to speed up healing and prevent infection. Despite its simplicity, the proper care is by far most important aspect of your tattoo journey. Just like a painting in a gallery is being preserved by means of constant care, your new tat will look fresh and bright only if you regularly “clean the window” of your piece of art.

Got a tattoo? No regrets?
Great! Learn how to treat tattoo immediately after the procedure and how to make it shine for years to come


1. Follow the Instructions of Your Tattoo Artist
Aftercare advice can vary a bit from artist to artist, as they use different products, may put different types of bandage on, and even sometimes are individual. Your friend’s experience is your friend’s experience, so never follow the instructions, given to another person.

2. The Initial Bandage Issues
As soon as a tattoo is ready, an artist applies a product and puts the bandage or plastic wrap, which must cover the whole tattooed area until told by your artist. This period may vary from the minimum 1 hour to the maximum 4-5 hours (it depends on the kind of bandage).

3. The First Wash of a Fresh Tattoo
Wash your hands thoroughly and carefully remove the bandage. Make a lather in your hands with a mild unscented soap and warm water (neither hot nor cold!). Gently and carefully wash the tattoo, using a circular motion, until all dried plasma and blood are removed, and rinse the tattooed area. Avoid any washcloths, bath sponges, and bath towels, which have lots of microbes and germs on their surface, and also can hurt the affected skin.

For the same reason, use a clean paper towel to dry your tattoo. Pat it gently, don’t rub. After that, allow it to air-dry for up to an hour. If you’re in a hurry, a hair dryer on the ‘cool’ setting may be used, but better let it dry under natural conditions.

4. Apply a Thin Layer of Lotion or Cream
When the tattoo is completely dry, apply a thin layer of a product (with clean hands) and slightly massage into the skin. It’s essential to use a non-scented, water-based antibacterial ointment. To make sure you don’t hurt your tat, better ask the artist “What can I put on a new tattoo?” and he’ll advise you on the best lotions for new tattoos.

Avoid petroleum or lanolin-based products (like Vaseline). They cause breakouts on the tattoo, draw the ink from the tattoo to the surface of the skin (as a result, the tattoo fades off), and clog the pores due to their heavy consistency.

5. Keep the Tattoo Clean during 2-4 Weeks
Clean your tattoo at least twice a day with a fragrance-free soap and lukewarm water as long as your artist says to do it. If you’re sweating, working, getting dirty, wash it more often. A fresh tattoo can sometimes “weep” during the first days. Don’t panic and at least dab the tattoo with a clean paper towel, unless you can wash it right now.

6. Don’t Pick or Scratch at Your Tattoo
Infections, fading picture, long-term healing – do you need all these problems? If not, ask no more questions and just don’t touch it, even if it itches and peels. Keep it moisturized instead.

7. No Sun 
Before your tattoo is completely healed, avoid any contact of this area with intense sunlight and don’t use any sun lotion. After healing, use sunblock, cover it with a high SPF and continue moisturizing the tattooed area regularly.

8. No Soaking in Water
Avoid soaking in water for a month – a shower is your best friend for this period. Say ‘Goodbye’ to swimming pools, Jacuzzis, baths, oceans for a while.

9. No Tight-Fitting Clothes
Tight-fitting clothes can rub against the tattoo, damaging the skin and creating healing problems. As plasma and excess ink may seep, such clothes just will stick to the tattoo.

10. After Your Tattoo Has Healed
Even if you don’t notice any evident problems with your new tattoo, it’s a good idea to stop by in 2-3 weeks and let the artist give it a good looking over and make sure it doesn’t need to be retouched.

By the way, a studio should provide a free touch up for some months, as bad tattoos and service = bad feedback, bad feedback = bad reputation.

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