Tattoo aftercare: All you need to know about taking care of your new tattoo
Tattooing is not for everybody. Some people prefer to remain a blank canvas, while some wouldn't want to experience the pain. However, if you've fallen in love with the idea of a tattoo; spent months deciding on a design; and sourced for a suitable tattoo artist, we're sure you'd do whatever it takes to make sure it turns out exactly how you envisoned. That's where before- and aftercare comes in. Crucial in ensuring your tat looks — and stays — the way you want it to, here are some helpful tips to help you take good care of your fresh ink.
You've just got your fresh ink — if it was done at any reputable salon, it's now probably wrapped up in a protective sheet. Leave the covering on the tattoo for the first 2 — 5 hours, then gently remove it before washing it with lukewarm water and mild liquid soap. Some gentle options for your consideration, below.
Moisturise and keep dry
Now that you've got a shower out of the way, it's a great idea to keep your inked skin hydrated. Apply a thin layer of an unscented moisturising cream like Bepanthen — or, whichever brand your artist recommends. You can either then cover it with clingfilm/gauze, or leave it out to air, depending on your artists advice. Generally, studios will advise you to repeat the cleaning process 3-5 times a day.
Subsequently, be sure to keep the tattoo clean and dry. Avoid soaking it in water for at least a month (showers are ok, baths are not). If your clothes are likely to rub on it, keep it covered with gauze/clingfilm as well as medical tape.
Avoid direct sunlight and do not scratch
Tattoos are essentially fresh wounds, so to ensure that your tattoo turns out exactly the way you want it to, try your best not to get a tan — it'll cause patches and fades that definitely do not look appealing. If you must catch some rays, make sure you're plastered in high SPF sunscreen and/or sunblock.
As per the recovery process, it may scab or flake slightly further down the road. Avoid picking at it, as this may remove the ink in that area and lead to more patches, fading, or the design being removed altogether. If it stays raised; itches uncontrollably; is red around the edges; keeps bleeding for more than a day or so after having it done; or is continuously hot to the touch, then go back to your artist or seek medical advice.
Be patient, and listen to your tattoo artist
Healing times vary with individual. Some people take weeks, others take months. Most of all, listen to your body — if using a certain brand of soap or a particular type of treatment seems to be working best for your skin, stick to it. Keep following your aftercare instructions for as long as the artist told you to, and make sure the tattoo is kept well-moisturised and clean for a good few months after that. Keep in mind to avoid abrasive skin products as well.
Aftercare advice will vary from studio to studio, and sometimes even artists in the same studio will have different ideas of what heals best. Listen to the instructions your artist gives you — most will have a leaflet with their advice printed out for you to take away.
If you do lose ink, your studio should retouch it for free. Bad tattoos and service lead to bad reputations, so it's within in their interests to make sure you're happy with how it'll eventually look.