How you take care of your tattoo will directly determine how your tattoo will look when it’s healed. A tattoo is for life, so take the time to help it heal properly.
1. Remove the bandage as soon as you get home or after one hour, whichever comes first. All wounds need to breathe if they are to heal properly. After removing the bandage wash your tattoo with a mild soap and warm to hot water. (Mild soaps are those with no dyes, perfumes or fragrances, such as Dove or Ivory) After your initial cleaning continue to wash your tattoo 2-5 times a day for the next 2 weeks. (directions below)
2. To Wash your Tattoo: Wash the tattoo using your fingertips or hands only. Use a mild soap and cool to warm water. Take care to gently remove all traces of blood, as this will cause scabbing. Do not scrub the tattoo with a washcloth during the two-week healing period. Always gently pat the tattoo dry with a clean soft cloth or just let it air dry.
3. Apply a small amount of lotion or ointment (listed below) to the tattoo; just enough to make it slightly shine, a little bit goes a long way. You should wash your tattoo and rinse away old product before applying new product. Work your product in well. Dab off all the excess with a paper towel to where it is no longer shiny. You should barely be able to tell that it’s there. This is just enough to keep the tattoo moist and to keep it from scabbing. When using ointment your body heat will liquefy it and it may become glossy looking or runny. If your tattoo is shiny glossy or runny it means there’s too much product so dab more off. Too much ointment or lotion can suffocate the tattoo and liquefy any scabs that may have formed, causing the ink to fall out and look blotchy. There is no need to re-bandage the tattoo.
4. Products that may be used on your tattoo: A&D Ointment, Tattoo Goo, Lubriderm, Aquaphor lotion or other product specifically specified by your technician.
· Ointment can be applied for the first 3 days or until your tattoo starts to peel, whichever comes first. Apply ointment whenever the tattoo is feeling stiff or dry but beware of over-moisturizing. You must wash your tattoo and rinse away any/all old ointment before applying new ointment. Wash your tattoo and apply ointment as needed 2-5 times a day. When your tattoo begins to peel switch to an unscented lotion such as Lubriderm. Apply moisturizer after washing twice a day for the remainder of two weeks. Do not use lotions that contain colour, fragrance or sparkles until the healing is complete (usually anywhere from ten days to two weeks or possibly longer.)
· It is normal for your skin to form a protective layer over your tattoo. However, if you over moisturize or do not moisturize enough, a thick hard scab may form that may crack when you move. It is important to try to avoid this kind of scab through proper washing and moisturizing. Moisturizing is a personal balance that can be different for each individual. When you form a thick scab the ink sits within it and slowly heals into the skin. When the tattoo is kept just moist enough, it doesn’t have a chance to form a scab, but does form a thin membrane to protect the tattoo while it heals. This layer peels off very similar to sunburn (DO NOT pick at your tattoo or purposely try to make it peel while it heals. You will pull the ink out!) It is normal to see small flakes of coloured skin falling off during this stage of healing.
· You must keep your tattoo clean; however, long showers or baths must be avoided for 2 weeks. Prolonged soaking can and will loosen scabs if any have formed, or will soak through the soft tissue and cause your ink to flow down the drain. This includes swimming in the ocean or a pool, hot tubs, and saunas. Short showers are best, under 10 minutes if possible.
· Please refrain from scratching or picking at your tattoo. Scrubbing with a washcloth can be very harsh on a tattoo and will cause your colours to fade. It is normal for the tattoo to become very itchy during the healing time, sometimes slapping or gently rubbing a tattoo can help, do not scratch or pick!
· Keep in mind that everyone heals differently, so please be patient. Although redness, swelling and soreness can be normal; If you experience excessive redness, excessive swelling, extreme discomfort or if you develop a fever, it could be signs of an infection and it is advisable to seek medical advice.
Your tattoo may be touched up within 3 months of the original date by the original artist. The touch up will be at no additional cost to you only if it is needed due to the artist’s work. If the touch up is needed because you abused the tattoo or failed to take care of your tattoo properly, additional fees will apply.
A Note On Your Tattoo’s Enemy – The Sun
· The sun is BAD for your tattoos, even if you’ve had your tattoo for a long time. A sunburn on a new tattoo can cause a lot of problems. It will dry out your tattoo and cause it to form a horrendous scab much of the time causing the tattoo to fade before it is even healed. It will take much longer to heal completely. It promotes scarring in a new tattoo, so you need to wait until it is fully healed to go back in the sun or go tanning, and make sure you put on a high quality sun block (do NOT apply sun block while your tattoo is healing.) The tattoo is under your skin and your tan will form above it. If you get too dark, some colours (white, yellow, pink and orange,) may not show up as brightly as they could. Over time, excessive exposure to the sun will cause your tattoo to fade no matter what colours are used.
· Remember that hands and feet reproduce skin cells much faster than other parts of the body. A tattoo in these areas will sometimes take an extra two weeks to heal.
A Note On Heavy Scabbing
· Individuals heal in so many different ways; it’s hard to tell (especially for first-timers) exactly what will happen – whether the tattoo will scab or peel. A tattoo in one spot may heal completely different from a tattoo in another spot. The way an artist works the skin can also make a difference in the way a tattoo heals. There is no way to foretell exactly what every tattoo is going to do while healing or how to heal it.
· Yes, it’s better for a tattoo to not scab up, but sometimes people just don’t heal this way. Sometimes a scab will form no matter what you do. For some, it’s hard to tell whether or not a scab is forming. Sometimes a piece will look like it’s scabbed over but will peel, other times it’s obvious that a thick, hard scab has formed. If a scab does form you may have to do things a bit differently. You should always check with your artist before you change any of your aftercare procedure. Artists have their own methods of aftercare.
· In most shops, if you follow their directions and the tattoo heals badly, they are responsible for a touch up. If you deviate from their aftercare without seeking their advice and the tattoo heals badly, you forfeit that guarantee.
· Almost all artists will advise you to keep the tattoo moist, because this can keep it from forming a scab. But what happens when this doesn’t work?
• We notice a lot of people over-applying ointment and lotion – too frequently or just too much.
• Keeping it moist to the point that it’s nearly turning any repairing tissue to mush is bad. When you sleep, this mush hardens, turning to a scab. Morning comes and on goes more goo, which absorbs into the scab turning it to mush again, and later, dries out to form a thicker scab.
• Sometimes a tattoo just needs to scab. If it does form a scab, discontinue the ointment or moisturizer. Let the tattoo ‘dry heal.’ You will have to keep an eye on it and keep any scabs from getting pulled off prematurely, but sometimes that’s the best way. If anything, apply a sparing amount of moisturizer or ointment twice a day or less, if at all. No matter what, your body will heal. Touch ups are always available.