How to care for your Tattoo
It is tempting to want to show off your cool new tattoo the minute you
walk out of the tattoo studio, but if you do not follow the
recommended tattoo aftercare guidelines, you run the risk of ending up
will all kinds of problems, not least the possibility that your lovely
new tattoo will end up looking less than perfect.
Instructions in tattoo aftercare are likely to vary between tattoo
studios, but in general, the main guidelines are likely to be similar
wherever you go. You may be given a sheet of instructions to take
away, or the tattoo artist might just give you some verbal advice.
Either way just listen to them and follow their advice—they are the
experts and since they probably have lots of tattoos of their own, you
can be certain that they know what they are talking about!
Tattoo aftercare in the first twenty-four hours
It is normal to have afresh tattoo covered up by a bandage for the
first few hours, It might not look very cool, but that bandage is
there for a reason—it is designed to protect the area from infection
and bacteria since the tattoo is essentially an open wound. You should
leave the bandage on for between two and five hours to allow the
tattoo to settle down, then remove it and wash the tattoo gently.
What should I use to clean my tattoo?
Use warm water and mild antibacterial soap to clean your tattoo. There
is likely to be blood and plasma residue from the tattooing process,
but do not be tempted to scrub at it vigorously as this could cause
irreparable damage. You can use cotton wool to wipe the area, but your
hand is just as effective: rub gently to lift off any traces of blood
and slimy plasma.
Once the tattoo is clean, dry it with a clean towel or paper towel,
and then apply a layer of unscented moisturizer—nappy rash cream is a
good choice, but if your tattoo artist has recommended a particular
brand, follow their advice. Antibacterial ointments such as Bacitracin
are popular choices, but if you are allergic to it, a good alternative
is a vitamin enriched moisturizer.
Do not be tempted to slather Vaseline or similar all over the tattoo
as it will slow down the healing process—your tattoo needs to be able
to breathe and the application of thick ointments clog the skin and
cause nasty pimples to develop, which might end up becoming a
permanent feature of the tattoo if you are not careful. You might be
tempted to use special tattoo aftercare products, but these are
unnecessary as over the counter lotions and are just as effective.
However, stay away from scented products as these can cause
Once the tattoo is nice and clean, cover it up with a gauze bandage to
keep it clean whilst still allowing it to breathe—this is especially
important if you are in a dirty environment and your tattoo is likely
to become contaminated with dust and dirt.
How often do I need to wash my new tattoo?
Your new tattoo needs to be washed gently at least twice per day, but
many tattoo studios recommend gentle washing between three and five
times per day—follow the guidelines given to you by your tattoo
Things to avoid after having a tattoo
Showering is ok following a tattoo, but you should avoid submerging
your new tattoo in a hot tub or bath for the first two or three weeks.
The same applies to swimming in a pool or the sea.
You must also keep your new tattoo out of the sun. Exposure to
ultraviolet light will cause a colored tattoo to fade very quickly,
even after the tattoo has healed completely, so if you want to keep
your new tattoo looking bright and colorful for as long as possible,
slap some factor 50 sun cream on each time you spend any time in the
What will the tattoo look like as it heals?
Your tattoo might scab or go flaky over as it heals—this is perfectly
normal. Try not to pick at the scabs as they appear, even if they are
itchy and annoying. Picking the scabs can damage the color and cause
fading, so don’t do it. Whilst itching is normal, excessive bleeding
or a tattoo that is hot to the touch or painful is not normal and can
be the sign of an infection. If you notice any troubling signs, have
the tattoo checked out by a doctor.
How long will my tattoo take to heal?
Everyone is different and healing times will vary between individuals.
However, in general, smaller tattoos take less time to heal than large
tattoos. A smaller design may only take a week to heal whereas a large
and very complex design may take months to heal.