4 Simple New Tattoo Care Steps
Step 1: Remove the bandage between one and three hours after your tattoo session. Be sure to wash and rinse your hands before touching or washing your tattoo. Lather mild anti-bacterial soap and warm water between your hands, and gently wash your tattoo for about thirty seconds. Rinse with cold water afterwards to close the pores and prevent "weeping".
Step 2: Gently blot your tattoo with a dry, clean paper towel. Don't use cloth towels or reuse paper towels, as these things can harbor bacteria. Let the tattoo air dry completely. It's very important to keep your tattoo clean, so repeat this process about three times daily.
Step 4: After a few days, you can switch from a heavier ointment to a moisturizing tattoo lotion like After Inked. If you have sensitive skin and can’t tolerate an ointment during the first few days, Tattoo Goo Lotion is a particularly good alternative because it’s 99% natural and very gentle on even the most delicate skin.
General Tattoo Aftercare Tips
- A tattoo is an open wound that must be cared for very well to prevent infection and damage to the tattoo's appearance.
- Avoid soaking your tattoo. Take ten-minute-or-less showers to avoid over-saturation. During the first two weeks of healing, do not take baths, go swimming, or use saunas, hot tubs, etc. Sea water, chlorinated water, and fresh water all contain potentially dangerous and harmful bacteria.
- Keep your tattoo protected from the sun. This is absolutely imperative during the first several weeks of healing. After your tattoo heals, sun exposure will still cause it to fade, so be sure to use a high SPF sunblock for the life of your tattoo.
- Some jobs can be very dangerous for a fresh tattoo, so be sure to ask your tattooist about any special recommendations regarding your work. S/he may recommend you keep your tattoo covered with a product like Tatu-Derm at minimum.
- Do not shave or use hair removing products on your tattoo until it has finished peeling.
How to Care for Tattoos on Specific Body Parts
Q. How do I care for my leg tattoo?
A. Tattoos on the legs can take longer to heal and require more TLC because there is not as much blood flow to your lower extremities as there is to your upper body. You may experience more swelling, in which case it is important to rest and elevate your leg with a pillow or two (ideally so that it’s above your heart when you’re laying down). Try to wear soft, breathable fabrics, and avoid tight-fitting jeans that could rub and irritate you tattoo.
Q. How do I care for my foot or hand tattoo?
A. Like leg tattoos, foot tattoos can cause uncomfortable swelling and may need to be elevated during the healing process.
Skin tends to shed more quickly from hands and feet, meaning that ink usually doesn't stay in the skin as well on those surfaces as it does on other areas of the body. Also, hands and feet are the most used and abused parts of the body, so it's no surprise that tattoos on these areas typically take longer to heal and don't last as long over time. Hand and foot tattoos often require at least one touch-up because of these issues, and some people continue to get touch-ups long after their tattoos have healed.
Because our hands are exposed to so many germs, it is important to keep them very clean and to be mindful of what you touch.
Q. How do I care for my groin, breast or armpit tattoo?
A. These areas of the body tend to sweat more, which causes more harmful bacteria growth. Make sure to keep these areas very clean, and wear loose fitting clothes whenever possible. Light, natural fabrics like cotton will also help prevent sweating and allow the area to breathe.
Q. How do I care for my head or face tattoo?
A. Tattoos in these areas are extra susceptible to sun damage. During the first few weeks, sun exposure should be limited as much as possible. Wear large-brimmed hats and strong sunscreen if you have to be outside at all during the first few weeks after getting a head or face tattoo. Also avoid using regular skin products such as facial cleansers, moisturizers and make-up during that time.
Ideally, you should continue wearing hats to shield your face or head tattoo from the sun even once it's well healed. That isn't always a practical option, though, so invest in some good-quality, tattoo-safe sunscreen like Color Guard by Tattoo Goo.
More Tattoo Aftercare Products & Info
For additional new tattoo care tips and great tattoo aftercare products, check out these pages and the Tatu-Derm demo video below: