Getting a tattoo is fun, exciting and always an adventure. Every tattoo tells a story, but what happens when you leave the shop? Most of us know, the healing process of a tattoo is probably the most “annoying” part of the whole process. The scabbing, the itching, trying to sleep, its not always enjoyable. Hopefully this go-to after care guide can help you with any questions, concerns and thoughts you might have when it comes to your new tattoo after care.
First things first, once your new tattoo is finally complete, whether you’ve been sitting in the chair for 30 minutes or 6 hours, nothing feels better the sound of your artist saying “We’re finished!” When leaving the chair you may find your fresh new ink wrapped in plastic wrap or second skin. Depending on how your artist covered your tattoo, depends on how you will care for it during the healing process.
If your new ink was wrapped in plastic wrap, here is what you should do:
Once returning home, go ahead and remove the plastic wrap and gently wash your tattoo with warm water and soap. The soap you use, should be a non-colored, non-perfumed, anti-bacterial soap. There are a few brands of soap we recommend. Our gallery in particular, prefers H2Ocean Blue-Green Foam Soap or Nat-A-Tat-2 Tattoo Foam Cleanser. Do not use shower gel or bar soap to wash your tattoo. Once you have the correct soap in hand, GENTLY wash your tattoo with warm water and soap. Vigorously washing or wiping your tattoo can lead to irritation and/or bleeding. After a gentle wash, take a paper towel and lightly tap your new tattoo. Do not wipe your skin; a light tap or pat will do just the trick. Let your tattoo air try before proceeding to the next step.
With a fresh tattoo, we don’t recommend using an aftercare lotion till the following day. Your body will start to heal your tattoo on its own. Let your white blood cells form that nice light scab to protect your skin. Once this process occurs, then you will apply the appropriate aftercare product. Continue further reading for your aftercare instructions.
If your new Ink was wrapped in second skin, here is what you should do:
Second skin is a breathable, thin-self adhesive film that provides a moist healing environment for your new tattoo. When your ink is fresh, this initial stage is the most critical in the healing process. Second Skin protects your skin from friction and provides a waterproof, protective barrier that prevents contamination. This barrier also allows you to do anything you need while your tattoo is healing, from work to sleeping without a mess on your bed sheets. Your artist may recommend you wear this from 1-5 days. There are many benefits to second skin. The major benefit being, it allows your body’s own plasma to help heal the tattoo. Once you remove the second skin, your tattoo will be further along on the healing process.
To remove second skin from your tattoo, it is best to hop in the shower. We recommend using soap with warm water to peel it off. The soap you use should be a non-colored, non-perfumed, anti-bacterial soap. There are a few brands of soap we recommend. Our gallery in particular prefers H2Ocean Blue-Green Foam Soap or Nat-A-Tat-2 Tattoo Foam Cleanser. Do not use shower gel or bar soap to wash your tattoo. Once your soap and water are in place, lift a corner of the film and stretch it toward the center of the tattoo. Grab another corner and repeat. Keep applying the soap as you peel it off. This will help to gently remove it from the skin. After removal of the film, wash your tattoo with the warm water and soap. Vigorously washing or wiping your tattoo can lead to irritation and/or bleeding. After a gentle wash, take a paper towel and lightly tap your new tattoo. Do not wipe your skin; a light tap or pat will do just the trick. Let your tattoo air try before proceeding to the next step. Continue further reading for your aftercare instructions.
Once your plastic wrap or second skin is removed, here is what you should do:
Whether you had a temporary plastic wrap or second skin, here is where you will find what we recommend for tattoo aftercare. There are a lot of different options and every artist has their favorite products. Here at Good Vibrations Ink, we find that products like After Inked, and Nat-A-Tat2 and H2Ocean work best! All of these products are gentle to the skin and contain moisturizers. Most of these products contain all-natural, organic ingredients and are lotion based. Lotion formula is better to heal your tattoo than products that contain lanolin or petroleum. The lotion is directly absorbed by your skin and allows your wound to breathe along with reducing inflammation. This is extremely important during the healing process and will allow your ink to be as vibrant as possible.
Applying after care is quite simple, yet the most important part of having a tattoo. The most important thing to remember is, a little goes a long way. No matter what after care you choose, gently apply a light layer to the area generally about 3-4 times a day. Thin layers of after care will allow your tattoo to breathe, yet be moisturized at the same time. Make sure you apply your aftercare to dry skin. Allow your tattoo to air dry at least 20 minutes after taking a shower before applying your recommended lotion.
The overall healing process of your new ink may take anywhere from 2 weeks or longer. Your skin goes through a complete rejuvenation process. There are several layers of skin that will flake away till your tattoo is completely healed. Do not be alarmed, this is normal. Depending upon your skin and how your body heals, it may take over 1 month for your skin to feel back to normal or smooth again.
Here is what you should avoid with your new tattoo:
As part of the healing process, you’ll find that your tattoo will begin to scab and or flake. DO NOT PICK AND OR SCRATCH YOUR NEW TATTOO. Doing so can lead to color loss in your tattoo and or scarring. If your tattoo becomes itchy at any point, do not scratch or rub, it is best to pat your tattoo and apply your appropriate aftercare lotion.
Additional things to avoid in the next several days after getting your tattoo would be tanning beds, and or sun tanning, salt water, chlorine, hot tubs and saunas. Also avoid submerging your tattoo for the first week or two. All of these actions jeopardize the overall healing of the new skins the area of your tattoo.
Here is some additional tips for your new ink:
Once you notice your tattoo has finished flaking and seems to be healed, make sure to periodically use a moisturizing skin lotion to keep the tattoo vibrant. Also a strong sunblock or sunscreen over your tattoo will protect it. The sun and tattoos aren’t the best of friends. The sun tends to fade tattoos drastically. After being in the sun for long periods, follow up with again another good skin moisturizer.
Do not be afraid to shave over your tattoo! Body hair can make your tattoo look faded and dull, shaving can help bring the vibrance back to your tattoo. Do not be afraid, body hair does not come back thicker once shaved, it is perfectly safe to shave over tattoos.
Also, what you eat and drink can play a huge part in how your body heals your ink. Staying on a healthy diet can drastically improve the process. What you eat can influence how quickly your skin heals after getting inked. After getting your tattoo (and following our aftercare instructions) you should focus on nourishing your body with anti-inflammatory food and avoid food that isn’t so healthy. Processed foods lack a ton of essential elements. Consuming lots of fruits and vegetables with omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants will aid in the healing process. A lot of these foods have anti-inflammatory properties. Most importantly, drink water! Water is essential and you should be drinking plenty of water, whether or not you just got a new tattoo. Staying hydrated will prevent your skin from drying up, hence promoting an ideal environment for your tattoo to heal. Avoiding alcohol in large quantities is also recommended since alcohol causes overall inflammation in the body. In plain words, eat clean!
Here is the sum of it all:
With all that being said, getting a tattoo is a great experience whether it’s your 1st tattoo or your 20th! Aftercare plays a huge part in the aftermath of the health of your tattoo. At Good Vibrations Ink we highly encourage our customers and clients to really understand the meaning of good aftercare. We want your tattoos to stay beautiful and vibrant for as long as possible and that means being aware of all of the instructions we just discussed. A tattoo is a work of art, don’t be care-less and follow our aftercare instructions for the best results. You may always email our shop at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have. Thanks for reading and enjoy your new ink!