We will bandage your tattoo at the end of your appointment. Please leave the bandage on until you’re ready to clean the tattoo the first time – don’t peel it back to look at it or show friends. Get a picture before we bandage, and show people the picture until you have cleaned your tattoo.
First Time Cleanup
Leave the tattoo bandaged for 2 to 24 hours. DO NOT RE-BANDAGE or put Vaseline on the tattoo again.
- The first time you clean the tattoo, remove the bandage gently, getting it wet if it’s stuck.
- Wash gently with clean hands, and not a wash cloth. Don’t be afraid to really wash your tattoo thoroughly, or you won’t get the vaseline off.
- Use mild soap like Dove, Ivory or Dawn dishwashing liquid. It’s best to avoid very hot water.
- Be sure to remove all the Vaseline – it usually take 4 to 6 or more times washing and rinsing the tattoo before the vaseline is gone.
- Pat dry with a fresh, clean towel. A paper towel is fine if it’s not linty. Don’t rub the tattoo – just pat it. For cleanliness, don’t use anything that you or other people have already used.
- Apply a tiny amount of water-based lotion such as Curél or Lubriderm — most lotions are oily, and don’t let the tattoo “breathe.” We’ll tell you how much lotion to use for your particular tattoo, but in general, use an amount that absorbs completely in about 5-10 seconds when you’re rubbing it into the tattoo.
- You can also use bag balm or fresh aloe vera leaves (but not aloe vera products sold in stores, as they have stabilizers in them which aren’t good for your tattoo).
- You can remove tape residue by rubbing with olive oil, then wash with soap and water (try not to get olive oil in the tattoo).
PLEASE NOTE: We do NOT recommend Neosporin or similar ointments – they clog the pores and the antibiotic formula can draw out color.
Care during the first two weeks
The first half of the month of healing is when the top layer of skin over your tattoo flakes away like a sunburn. It’s usually about 14 days long, even if you can’t see any flaking, but sometimes takes longer. If you get to the end of the first 2 weeks and still see flakey skin on your tattoo, keep up the care instructions below until it’s completely smooth again.
Keep the tattoo clean
- USE GOOD HYGIENE! Always wash your hands before touching the tattoo, wear clean clothes next to the tattoo, and keep other people’s hands OFF your new tattoo. Good hygiene will prevent most infections.
- Wash the tattoo at least once a day, but don’t rub it with washcloths or towels for the first couple of weeks. If something touches your tattoo that is NOT freshly cleaned hands – dirty hands, pets, clothes, upholstery, etc — wash it as soon as possible
- Other than cleaning the tattoo, keep it out of the water until it’s done flaking and is at least 2 weeks old.
Lotion lightly and often
- Lotion the tattoo very lightly, and often – every hour is great. Use a small amount on clean finger tips, and rub it in gently. We’ll tell you the correct amount for your tattoo, and….
- Two good methods for getting the right amount of lotion are
(1) use an amount that soaks completely into the tattoo in 5 to 10 seconds, or
(2) for every area about the size of a man’s palm of his hand, use about a grain of rice worth of lotion. For tiny tattoos, scale back the amount.
- Be careful not to use too much – over lotioning feels great, but allows your skin to sluff off ink during healing. If the lotion leaves a sheen or film, you’ve used too much. Spread it out to the skin around the tattoo.
- When it’s been a long time since you last lotioned, still stick with that tiny amount each time you lotion it.
- If it starts itching or feels tight and dry, put a little lotion on it, rather than scratching it, even if it’s only been 20 or 30 minutes since you last lotioned.
What to wear over the tattoo
- Natural fibers are best. Cotton – especially cotton t-shirt fabric – is great. Along with cotton fabrics, silk, linen, bamboo, hemp and rayon are all good. All are made from plant fibers.
- Clean and smooth fabrics – nothing fuzzy, nothing lacey, nothing loose weave. You don’t want fabrics that snag the tattoo or keep it from getting enough air.
- Nothing too tight – waistbands, bra-straps, and other tight, binding clothes are NOT good for the tattoo when it’s healing.
What Not to Do
- DON’T pick at, scratch, or pull skin off your new tattoo (you will pull ink out). If your tattoo itches, or feels “tight,” lotion it instead of scratching at it.
- No baths, hot tubs, saunas, or swimming for two weeks or until the tattoo is done flaking, which ever is longer. Soaking can cause color loss. Showers are fine, but keep tattoo out of water as much as possible.
- SUN – Avoid sun on the tattoo for at least a month, and tanning beds for two months (tanning beds are harsh on new tattoos). Sunburning a new tattoo will ruin it, and can cause permanent skin damage. NO SUNSCREEN until the tattoo is over 1 month old (it’s too oily) – stay in the shade or wear loose clothing over it.
Care during the second half of the month
- Your tattoo may have a waxy or hazy look, or look like it’s losing color. Don’t worry – most of the time, this is just the skin going through it’s normal process, and the tattoo will “come back” and look great.
- Remember that while it’s okay to get in the water once the tattoo is done flaking and is at least 2 weeks old, keep the tattoo out of the sun for a whole month.
While your tattoo is healing, please give us a call or stop by if you have any concerns or questions. And when your tattoo is fully healed in 4 or 5 weeks, ideally it will be beautiful and just as we planned – please come show off! But if something didn’t take during the healing process, don’t hesitate to come back and talk to your artist about a touch-up.