So, you’ve just been tattooed. Your skin is essentially now an open wound. That means you need to look after your tattoo properly. Here are the aftercare rules I follow myself.
Please do consult your tattooist as a first point of contact – they’ll have the best advice for how to look after their work.
Leaving The Studio…
- When you leave the studio, your tattoo will more than likely be wrapped in cling film – keep this on for the rest of the day (if it’s the afternoon / evening) but get it cleaned when you get home and certainly before you go to bed.
- Your tattoo artist may use Dermalize (rather than cling film) which is a new semi-permanent covering (it looks like sticky-back-plastic) that masks your tattoo for 3-7 days with no action needed, depending on their specific advice. In these cases, please follow your artist’s instructions.
- Resist the urge to go out, get drunk and show your friends your amazing new tattoo. Don’t risk forgetting to clean your tattoo, bumping it, scraping it, picking up germs, etc.
- Go home, sit on the couch, get a takeaway, chill out, drink some nice vitamin-filled juices and lots of water. If you’ve had a long session all day, you will be feeling pretty drained and in need of some TLC.
Cleaning Ritual (Days 1-3)
Repeat this 3-4 times a day.
- Wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap. Don’t ever touch your tattoo with unwashed hands. Try not to touch dirty towels, door handles, etc. once you have washed your hands.
- Run your tattoo under lukewarm water and lightly wash – you can use a light soap if you like (something not scented). Often if you can’t wash your tattoo in water (if it’s on your lower back and you’re in the work loos, for example), use unscented baby wipes and lightly wipe the tattoo until all the excess ‘gunk’ comes off. If you do wash it with water, pat lightly with a clean towel afterwards.
- I personally don’t use any creams at this stage and leave my tattoo to ‘dry heal’. If needed I will use one of the creams listed in next section, but there is a lot to be said for keeping it dry, clean, and just not messing about with it too much. If you do decide to use a cream, add a thin layer over your tattoo, gently rubbing it in – there shouldn’t be any excess cream, be careful not to use too much.
- Re-wrap with cling film.
- Repeat this for the next 3 days, 3-4 times a day.
Cleaning Ritual (Days 3 Onwards)
Repeat this 3-4 times a day.
- Repeat the above cleaning steps from days 1-3, but don’t wrap in cling film at the end and leave your tattoo to air.
- You may want to continue to use cling film in extreme cases, if you think your tattoo may be subjected to an unclean environment (if you’re in a dusty or dirty workplace, or if you have to wear a rough material that might rub at your tattoo). But really do try to give it some air at this point as keeping it completely covered won’t be beneficial.
- Being introduced to fresh air will now start to dry out your tattoo, so you’ll want to keep it nice and moisturised. Some tattooists have moved away from recommending Bepanthen at this point in the process. I personally use an organic and natural coconut oil-based product like Jengu.
Follow this cleaning process until your tattoo is healed. It may take anything from three days to a few weeks for your tattoo to fully heal depending on where it is and how quickly your skin heals.
I normally ease up on washing it so frequently after about 4-5 days.
Tattoos in places with poorer circulation (like your feet) may take a lot longer to heal as your blood takes longer to reach that area.
- Wear loose, clean clothes / shoes that don’t rub.
- Try not to let any dirt, dust, animal hair or bacteria get into your tattoo.
- Try not to knock your tattoo on anything.
- Ink will be left imprinted on your bedding, so you may want to lie on a darker sheet or watch how you sleep!
- Don’t scratch, rub, pick or irritate your tattoo – don’t touch it unless cleaning.
- Don’t shave or use any other products or creams on top of your tattoo when it is healing: perfume, fake tan – ditch it! I would recommend throwing out any scented creams and using anything natural and non-scented from now on as your body cream.
- No baths until your tattoo is healed.
- No saunas, steam rooms or swimming.
- Try not to let your tattoo sit too long under the water of the shower.
- Keep out of the sun!
- Don’t do anything that might stretch your skin (watch out when exercising).
Remember, the aftercare process can be so different depending on where your tattoo is, how big it is, and how your own skin reacts. Finger tattoos, for example, are impossible to wrap for those first 3 days so you have to just keep them clean and dry and be careful what you touch – no washing up! 😉
Every single person is different, every artist is different, and so each time the process should be uniquely designed for you. Some people are allergic to coconut oil, for example.
If in doubt or if you have any questions, always follow your tattoo artist’s advice or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d be happy to help.
Think your tattoo might be infected? Read our guide on what to do and how to spot the signs.
Categories: Advice and Aftercare