Finally, your dreams have become a reality, and your body is sporting something totally epic — and totally permanent. You may think the most important part of the tattoo process is complete, but whether it is your first or 15th tattoo, the aftercare is crucial to ensuring the ink remains looking fresh forever.
Although a tattoo is a cosmetic procedure, its effects go much deeper than your skin’s surface. Aftercare not only keeps your tattoo looking incredible, but it also maintains your overall health. Just like a scratch or scrape heals differently for everyone, so do tattoos. Age, health, hygiene, and placement all determine how quickly your tattoo heals. With tons of misleading information concerning tattoos and aftercare, we suggest listening to the experts.
Here’s everything you need to know about tattoo aftercare.
The Initial Bandage
A few minutes after completing the tattoo, your artist will begin the wrapping process, disinfecting the skin first with an antibacterial cleanser or mild soap. Next, depending on the tattoo, the artist may apply a thin layer of jelly or moisturizer to the tattooed area. Though bandages vary from translucent plastic wrap to opaque, most artists now use a self-adhesive professional tattoo film.
Don’t worry — your artist will inform you on how long to keep it wrapped!
The First (Gentle) Wash
Following the timeline provided by your artist to safely remove the bandage, the first wash is imperative. After a thorough handwash, carefully remove the film. With lukewarm water and a mild, liquid hypoallergenic soap like Carex, gently use your fingers to wash the area.
Apply Unscented Moisturizer
Post-wash, you should apply a very thin layer of non-greasy, unscented moisturizing cream like Lubriderm to the area. Your artist will most likely make recommendations of various brands; most shops will even sell their own take-home moisturizer. Continue the cleaning and moisturizing process three to five times a day. This helps prevent your tattoo from peeling.
Keep It Clean and Dry
Most tattoo artists will advise you to avoid soaking your tattoo in water for at least a month. Showers are okay — baths and swimming are not. To prevent bacterial infection, be sure your clothes are not rubbing directly against the tattoo.
No Direct Sunlight
Unless unavoidable, keep your tattoo out of direct sunlight — even after healing. Healed tattoos, especially coloured ones, can fade in the sun. However, if you cannot avoid catching some rays in the summer, be sure to apply a high-grade SPF cream. Elizabeth Arden SPF50 lasts up to eight hours and is suitable for all skin types.
Follow Your Artist’s Advice
Aftercare advice will vary from studio to studio and sometimes even chair to chair within the same shop. Listen to the advice your artist gives you, seeing as though they’re the ones who just inked you. Most artists will provide a take-home pamphlet for your reference.
Remember the healing process is unique to every individual, so be patient!
Brooke Parker | Contributing Writer