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The Tat2X Guide to Tattoo Aftercare

Posted on May 23 2013

Tattoo Aftercare


So you just got inked… nice. You spent your time picking a design that meant something to you and an artist that you trusted and now you’ve got a permanent piece of body art to show off whenever you want to. If you did the research and went with a high end tattoo studio it must have cost you a pretty penny but it was worth it. Keeping that fresh tattoo healthy in these first few weeks is crucial to the life of your tattoo.

Below is a guide that represents some serious research but keep in mind that every artist and shop is different so the aftercare guide you were given by your tattoo artist might vary slightly from these instructions. Make sure you follow the tattoo after care guide provided by your artist…

Tat2X Guide To Tattoo Aftercare:

1. Bandaging vs. Plastic Wrap – once your tattoo is complete many artists will clean it with mild soap and apply some form of anti-bacterial balm or ointment. Then depending on the size and placement of your tattoo they will either wrap it in gauze and bandages or plastic wrap. Saran Wrap actually works really well and the edges are typically affixed to your skin with medical tape. Many artists now prefer the Saran Wrap technique because it won’t stick to the scabbing or plasma on your new tattoo. You can look more into the benefits of wrapping a tattoo here, as plastic wrapping ensures it remains in good condition, and the area of skin can heal correctly without any infections. There are many schools of thought regarding how long you should leave the bandage or wrap on. Most agree that 3 to 4 hours is a good standard. Some people like to leave it on longer if the tattoo is a larger back piece. Do not leave the bandage on for more than 8 hours as it will actually damage your tattoo. Once you take your bandage off do not wrap the tattoo again. Your skin needs to breath and this is part of the healing process.

Tattoo Aftercare


2. Cleaning – after you’ve removed the bandage clean your tattoo with a non-abrasive mild soap or cleanser and warm water. Try to avoid scrubbing just gently wash it with your hand and a light soap lather. The goal over time with each wash is to carefully wash away the plasma and scabbing. Do not peel the scabs off as it will damage your tattoo. Let them come off naturally and be patient. If your tattoo itches it means it’s healing properly. If the itching is driving you crazy don’t scratch your tattoo but instead scratch the area around it. Scratching your tattoo during the healing process is a very bad idea. You’ll want to wash your tattoo once or twice per day for the first week after you’ve gotten your tattoo.

3. Moisturizing – use a gentle moisturizer two or three times per day and apply it lightly. Do not over-moisturize as your skin needs to breathe. Avoid petroleum based products as they will actually clog your pores and delay the healing process. You can use some hemp cream for tattoos, as the anti-inflammatory properties of the cannabinoids might actually aid the healing process and soothe the skin as well. It is worth noting that this isn’t going to be an option for everyone around the world, sadly, due to differing laws and attitudes towards cannabis products. If this is something you are considering for your tattoo, you may wish to first search “is CBD oil legal” where you are on the internet before going ahead and ordering anything, just to make sure that you will be permitted to use it. Skin shedding and some discoloration are normal during this stage of healing and again you should avoid forcefully pulling or peeling away any scabbing. Let it come off naturally over time. You’ll want to moisturize several times every day for the first two weeks after you’ve received your tattoo. Your new tattoo should heal to the touch within 10 to 14 days.

Tattoo Aftercare


4. Things To Avoid – you should avoid exposure to the sun as it will damage fresh ink. This includes any extended period of time outdoors. Stay inside or in the shade if you can and yes going to the tanning salon will damage your fresh ink too. You can take a shower but do not take a long hot bath or get into a hot tub with fresh ink. You should also avoid chlorinated pools and the salty ocean as they will both increase your chances of infection and could damage a new tattoo. Finally, do not put sunscreen on a fresh tattoo. It will damage your fresh ink. However, you can put sunscreen on a fully healed tattoo.

Most tattoos should be fully healed after two weeks. Healing time can vary quite a bit depending on the size and location of your tattoo. Make sure you follow the instructions provided by your tattoo artist. Taking proper care of your fresh tattoo is going to help make sure it will last a lifetime and reduce the chance of infection. Enjoy showing off your tattoo!

About the Author:
Trip Albagdadi has written numerous press releases and featured articles for various online and print media outlets. He is a regular contributor to the Tat2X Tattoo Culture and Style Blog.

Photo Credits:
“Tattoo Aftercare – Picking a Design” – ohsarahrose via photopin cc
“Tattoo Aftercare – Design Layout” – ohsarahrose via photopin cc
“Tattoo Aftercare – Final Design” – ohsarahrose via photopin cc