1a. (with black bandage) Leave the bandage at least 2 hours (overnight if it’s an evening tattoo.) Do not remove the bandage to show your friends, as this is an important step to start the healing process and helps prevent infection when your skin is at its most vulnerable.
1b. (with Saniderm) Leave the bandage on for 2-3 days. Do not remove the bandage sooner unless advised by your artist. Use spare bandage provided by your artist to patch any leaks and prep with isopropyl alcohol before applying. Your tattoo will accumulate fluid beneath the bandage that you will be able to see. This will be brown in color and there is nothing wrong with your tattoo so don't worry! Do not release the fluid or tamper with the bandage.
2. Wash your hands thoroughly. ONLY ever touch your fresh tattoo with CLEAN hands. Remove the bandage and wash the tattoo with a mild unscented liquid soap and warm water (we like Dial original or Dr. Bronners -baby version in a blue bottle). If you have a Saniderm bandage we recommend taking it off under running water and stretch it to help release the seal (it will sting a little to remove but your tattoo is perfectly okay underneath). Gently pat the tattoo dry with a clean towel and allow it to dry fully for 1-2 hours.
3. Apply a small amount of Aquaphor or Hustle Butter. Hustle Butter is sold at my shop. Rub it in completely to your tattoo and do not leave any excess. Just enough should be used so that the skin is soft, not shiny. Do this 2-3 times a day for the first 2-3 days or for 4 weeks if using Hustle Butter.
4a. (with Aquaphor) After 2-3 days the tattoo will start to itch. Once it starts to itch, it’s time to switch…to a non-scented white lotion! (We like Eucerin or Aveeno.) A dry flaky layer of skin will form on the tattoo. Let the skin slough off naturally. Small flecks of color will come off during this process: this is normal and is not the ink coming out of your tattoo. Do not pick or scratch at the tattoo. Doing so could seriously affect the look of your tattoo when healed and could create scarring. Apply Lotion as needed (when your tattoo feels itchy, dry, or tight) for the next 2-3 weeks.
4b. (with Hustle Butter) Continue using the Hustle Butter for the course of a month after receiving your tattoo. You will likely need to moisturize your tattoo fewer times as it continues to heal. A dry flaky layer of skin will form on the tattoo. Let the skin slough off naturally. Small flecks of color will come off during this process: this is normal and is not the ink coming out of your tattoo. Do not pick or scratch at the tattoo. Doing so could seriously affect the look of your tattoo when healed and could create scarring. Apply Hustle Butter as needed (when your tattoo feels itchy, dry, or tight).
5. Avoid direct sunlight on the tattoo until it has healed completely. It hurts(!) and may damage your tattoo as it heals. Whenever in the sun your tattoo must be covered by your clothing. You CANNOT use sunscreen until your tattoo is healed. After your tattoo has healed, be aware of the sun’s effects on it. Excessive exposure to the sun will fade and damage the appearance of a tattoo. The American Association of Dermatology recommends that a broad spectrum of waterproof sunblock with an SPF of at least 30 applied every 2 hours.
6. No hot tubs, saunas, pools, or lakes until the tattoo is completely healed. It is necessary to shower and clean the tattoo regularly, but it should NOT be soaked in water for long periods of time. Doing soon can prematurely remove a scab and negatively affect the look of your healed tattoo.
7. Failure to follow the care directions properly can extend the healing time, cause infection, or prevent your tattoo from looking its best. Infection is rare, but to reduce your risk: wear loose and clean clothing, change your sheets regularly(particularly if you have pets,) only touch your tattoo with clean hands, do not allow others to touch your healing tattoo. Some warmth, redness, and irritation are normal. If you suspect infection be sure to consult a health professional at the first sign.
8. PLEASE call with any questions! DON’T ask your friend, sister, brother, mom, mom’s boyfriend, cousin’s buddy’s brother-in-law who once worked in a shop for summer or the INTERNET (well, unless it’s this page of the internet!) I’ve seen it all, and I’ll be happy walk you through ANY concerns you might have! Really!
Aquaphor OR Hustle Butter
Mild unscented liquid soap (Dial, Dr. Bronners)
White unscented lotions (Eucarin, Aveeno, Lubriderm)-- only if using Aquaphor for first portion of healing