A couple of weeks ago, I flew to Seattle to finish a sleeve I started a while back with tattoo artist Tina Bafaro. As a burgeoning collector I have a decent amount of ink, but as any true collector knows... not nearly enough. For me, the ink is barely dry before I am planning my next project and strategizing ways to explain to my husband why I need another tattoo. I enjoy all the many aspects of tattoo collecting: meeting great artists, travelling and checking out new cities, acquiring a new peice of art. I even (sort of) enjoy being tattooed...most of the time.
According to everyone who has tattooed me, I have "perfect" skin for being tattooed. Curious as to what that means exactly, I asked Tina when she made a comment about this very thing. According to her, perfect tattoo skin has to do with minimal sun exposure so the skin is suple (I knew staying indoors my whole life as a dedicated book worm would pay off!), texture, lack of scarring and what have you, and the ability to take the ink well. Bursting with underserved pride, I briefly wondered if I should put this important life "skill" on my resume, but then Tina went back to tattooing and the bitter sweet bite of the tattoo machine silenced my thoughts.
Want to know what I really suck at? Healing. I tattoo like a dream, but I heal like a nightmare. I do everything on my care sheet to the letter. I tend to my healing tattoo like a nervous mother or a jealous lover, always hovering, tending, and worrying if I am doing everything right. Yet no matter how carefully I tend to myself, I always end up a flaking - and frequently scabbing - mess. The tattoo gods gave me those tiny pores, but then they punished me with excessive lymph and plasma - ahhh the cruelty of fate!
Well this time around, I tried something new - I tried Saniderm. Saniderm is esssentially a medical grade adhesive bandage that seals your tattoo and prevents dirt, germs, and other nasties collecting on it and causing trouble. Standard tattoo care says remove your wrap after 4-8 hours and let it dry and heal naturally. To prevent scabbing, you are generally instructed to wash periodically, avoid extended water exposure, and keep a very light film of tattoo artist approved ointment on the tattoo for days. The healing process usually takes a week to two weeks.
Saniderm sends you in a completely different direction. Your first Saniderm bandage goes on for 8-24 hours and is removed when the lymph (that sticky clear fluid) build up breaks the seal. A thorough wash, and then you apply a second Saniderm bandage. Now if you are done seeping, you leave that one on. If you are an overacheiver like me and you continue to seep, that bandage comes off in a day or two. Another wash - and then the final bandage goes on. You do not use any ointments. You do not let the tattoo air dry. You COMPLETELY cover it with Saniderm per their instructions on their website. And that is it. Literally.
I had Tina apply my first bandage at the shop. It took us a while because that shit is a little tricky to work with - think cabinet liner paper with two backings and you can never quite find the little pull tab. I encourage you to try out a little peice on your skin before you get tattooed just to get a feel for it. I slept with that bandage and in the morning had some squashy areas where I had seeped. I removed the wrap, washed, and put a new bandage on. The second time I applied, it was easier as I had a better handle on how to use it. I flew home and the next day did my final bandage (I had seeped enough to break the seal in a few spots). My tattoo was completed on a Thursday and I put on my final Saniderm bandage on Sunday. Guess when I took it off? Guess how long it took my tattoo to heal? Tuesday. I took the bandage off Tuesday night and It. Was. Healed.
The picture on the left is what my tattoo looked like immediately after removing the final Saniderm bandage. For comparison's sake, I left a small section of my tattoo not covered by Saniderm and healed it using my regular methods. The picture on the right is what the non-Saniderm part of my tattoo looked like (both pictures where taken at the same time).
As I mentioned I tend to flake and scab when healing a tattoo. The above section of my tattoo was treated with great care. I followed care instructions to the letter and used an amzing healing ointment given to me by Tina, but I think we can all agree the difference is pretty startling. Even more exciting? I shortened my healing time by more than a week. My Saniderm-healed skin had that slightly itchy "new skin" feel out of the bandage, but otherwise was completely healed. In five days. Even better? NO color loss. At all.
So needless to say I am planning on healing with Saniderm for my next tattoo. Like any product I am sure there are people out there that are not a good fit for Saniderm. I encourage you to read their website carefully and call their help line with any questions or concerns before you try their product. In the meantime, I will share a few hard-won tips about Sandierm from my own experience.
1. Shave, shave, and shave again!!!
Tina was working around healed areas of my tattoo so when she shaved my arm, she did not shave the entire thing - only where she was working. Peeling Sandierm off hair - even miniscule arm hair like mine - is hateful. Shave the entire area you are planning on wrapping, plus an inch all the way around the site. Smooth skin is happy skin.
2. Wash very thouroughly after those first two wraps.
When you are still replacing wraps, make sure you wash alllll that sticky lymph off! Tina gave me a huge stack of surgical gauze that is used in dentistry. The surface of the guaze "grabs" the lymph and washes it off without hurting the new tattoo - magic. If you are not lucky enough to have a source for surgical guaze, use your finger tips and approved soap and gently scrub the lymph away - it is what causes scabbing and color to pull out.
3. Dry before you wrap.
Before you apply your Saniderm, gently pat dry your skin and give it a few minutes to air dry - wetness can break the seal.
4. Practice before you apply!
It can be a little tricky to work with, so practice with a small section first (shave!!!) - you will thank me later.
5. Read ALL FAQs and product descriptions before you use it!
Don't take some bloggers word for it! Do your research and make certain Sandierm is right for you AND you understand how to use it correctly before you commit!
Then when you are all done healing, enjoy your bright, vibrant tattoo!
NOTE: This is not a paid promtion - opinions are genuine and belong to Eva Laflamme!