Treat Your New Tattoo Right

Tattoos are an investment. They require money, planning, sometimes a little pain and most of all… a whole lot of time and patience. Not to mention, they become a permanent piece of art we get to display! 

Since we invest so much of ourselves into body art collecting, it’s extremely important to make sure we take care of our tattoos and give them the best chance for longevity. Because unfortunately, someday (we hope very, very far into the future) they will start to fade and age with our skin.

For artists, you already know, but a reminder: always follow any aftercare procedures given to you from your artist before you listen to anyone else. They may have recommendations that work better with specific products they use, or aftercare techniques specific to their tattooing methods.

Especially follow your artist’s instructions for infection prevention, such as keeping it covered, not picking at scabs or avoiding rubbing the area. If your tattoo becomes irritated, red, extremely itchy or begins to leak fluid, contact your artist immediately and seek medical attention. 

If you don’t follow your artist’s recommendations for aftercare, it could have severe consequences, including: ink loss/ruining the structure of your tattoo, infections and other complications.

We asked tattoo artists’ for their best tips (and favorite products) for taking care of new tattoos. Here’s what they said:

The Bandage Is There For A Reason

After a new tattoo, an artist usually wraps the tattoo with either plastic wrap or a bandage such as Saniderm (Second Skin), Recovery Aftercare or an equivalent. Depending on the size of your tattoo, bandages like Saniderm may need to be left on for up to 4 days. If your artist used plastic wrap to cover your tattoo, you may need to leave it on anywhere from 1-24 hours. Your artist should always tell you how long to leave on your wrapping.

Keep The Germs Away

Germs are, like, totally gross. 24 hours after you get your tattoo, you can prevent spreading germs by washing your tattoo with warm water (make sure it’s not too hot!) at least two to three times a day for the first few days. Get an antibacterial soap to fight off any infections and to ensure that your tattoo is squeaky clean. 

After you wash your tattoo, avoid rubbing it or patting it too harshly when drying. Gently pat it dry to remove any excess water, and don’t submerge your tattoo for too long.

Once you are past the first few days, you won’t need to wash it as often; however, you’ll still want to keep it as clean as possible as it heals. Clean it immediately if it comes into contact with dirt or other possible irritants. 

Also, be wary of using scented soaps, because they may cause irritation.

Here are some artist faves:

Dial Aloe Liquid Antibacterial Soap - $2

Also has foaming option

Neutrogena Cleansing Bar - $2

Great for sensitive skin

H2Ocean Blue Green Foam Soap - $6

Good for dry skin

Moisturize Like Your (Tattoo’s) Life Depends On It

It might be nice to smell like a fresh bouquet of flowers or a sultry musk, but using heavily scented lotions can irritate your new tattoo. 

Be sure to get an unscented lotion to use on any newly tattooed areas to avoid irritation or itching. Moisturize after washing your tattoo, and then as much as you can throughout the healing process. Keeping your tattoo moisturized prevents cracking and bleeding, and it speeds up your healing time. Vaseline is also a great tattoo moisturizer and protector if you already have some at home.

Embrace Your Inner Vampire

Summer’s almost here, and getting ready to lounge by the pool might be tempting as the weather heats up. But if you just got a new tattoo, consider waiting to work on your perfect summer tan until it’s fully healed. 

Limiting your time in the sun will keep you from getting a sunburn on your tattoo,and will help prevent fading in the long run. If you do need to go out into the sun, make sure you protect your tattoo with sunscreen that’s SPF 30 or higher if you can’t keep it covered by clothing. Apply liberally, and try to reapply often if you’re in the sun for a while.

Also, avoid swimming and submerging your tattoo in water for long periods of time until your tattoo is fully healed, or until your artist gives the OK (usually anywhere from 2-6 weeks, depending on the size).

Our artist SPF selects:

Mad Rabbit Tattoo Sunscreen - $26

SPF: 30

Coppertone Tattoo Guard - $18

SPF: 50

Neutrogena UltraSheer Dry-Touch - $12

SPF: 70

These are basic steps you can take to make sure that your tattoo is an investment you won’t lose out on — and an art piece you can admire for as long as possible.

woman tattooing a arm


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