When it comes to new tattoo care, there’s no shortage of advice. It seems like everyone who’s had at least one tattoo has a different new tattoo care tips. Use this, don’t use that… not to mention the tons of “natural” or homemade /DIY care tips. It can be hard to know what advice to follow and what is just an old wives’ tale. We’ve got your back. Culled from numerous tattoo artists and dermatological sources, here’s what we found to be the most consistent points when looking for advice on new tattoo care.
4 Tips for New Tattoo Care
New tattoo care is critical to ensuring that you have a beautiful piece of art that will last a lifetime. Improper care of your new tattoo could result in ink loss or infection, so to make sure you get the full value of your investment, follow these four easy tips for new tattoo care.
New Tattoo Healing Tips
Right after your tattoo artist finishes, they’ll wrap it in a sterile bandage. It’s important to leave this on for at least the first 2-3 hours. This will allow it to remain sterile and stop bleeding enough that it will be okay to be exposed to the open air. Try your hardest to avoid taking the bandaging off sooner than that. The skin where the tattoo was applied will be swollen and may bleed for a short time following each tattooing session. The bandaging will prevent anything from getting into your skin that might hurt you or your tattoo.
The First Steps of Tattoo Healing
After 2-3 hours you should be good to remove your bandage, provided you don’t plan on getting it wet. Showering with a new tattoo isn’t recommended for the first 48 hours, but that isn’t always an option. If you need to shower, we recommend this guide to showering with a new tattoo. Otherwise, try your best to follow these guidelines for new tattoo care. Be sure to stay out of pools and especially the ocean after getting a new tattoo. Chemicals in pools can dry your skin and negatively affect your skin’s ability to heal itself properly. The ocean is full of salt and, while it tends to make things heal fast, it can do it too fast for your tattoo. The ocean is also abrasive which means the motion of those waves could be abrading all that new ink right off your body. So, sit tight and stay away from both while your tattoo is healing.
Let Your New Tattoo Breathe
After your new tattoo has had time to heal up a little, it’s a good idea to take the bandages off and let air get to it. Air will help dry the skin and allow your skin to close and form a protective barrier around the ink. This is a very important stage in the new tattoo care process as it insures that your ink stays where the artist put it. While your tattoo is air drying, avoid letting it get wet — that includes sweat, too. So chill out and let your skin recover. Keep an eye on it to make sure the swelling goes down (it will take some time, sometimes a couple days). Watch for any redness, oozing, or pussing, as these could be signs of infection. If your tattoo does become infected, see a physician as soon as possible.
Once Your New Tattoo Has Dried
Keep it clean and moisturized. Wash your tattoo with gentle, anti-bacterial soap. DO THIS GENTLY. Do not scrub the tattoo, just smooth over it with cool, soapy water and then pat dry (also gently). Once dry, you’ll want to make sure it doesn’t get too dry as this can cause the scabs to crack and fall off too soon, which can result in a loss of ink. This means your tattoo wouldn’t have the density of color that the artist intended and it may look washed out, faded, or may have holes where the ink was supposed to be.
The best way to avoid this is to use a little lotion or a tattoo moisturizer. If you go the lotion route, Lubriderm is the best lotion for a new tattoo. You’ll want to avoid moisturizers that are petroleum based as they can cause the ink to leach out of your skin. That means avoiding creams and ointments like A&D ointment or heavy lotions. Look on the lotion packaging for the phrase non-comedogenic. This means that the lotion is water-based, won’t clog pores, and won’t hurt your tattoo. Lubriderm is the recommended lotion for new tattoos because it meets all of these requirements.
Products containing alcohol are also not recommended. A water-based moisturizer is key. When applying moisturizer to your new tattoo, be careful not to drown it. Use just enough to barely cover the tattoo. Avoid moisturizers that are scented. These can contain ingredients which may agitate your healing skin. When it comes to tattoo moisturizers, follow these same guidelines. Just beware, products marketed solely as tattoo moisturizers can be more expensive than a good lotion, which does an equally good job of moisturizing your tattoo.
New Tattoo Care Time Frame
We know, it can be a hassle taking care of a new tattoo. Two to three weeks can feel like forever, but new tattoo care is an incredibly important part of the process and not following these steps could mean damaging your tattoo or getting an infection. Stick to this plan and you’ll be good.