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New Tattoo Care

Tattoo Aftercare Instructions

I’ve heard conflicting ideas on how to best care for a new tattoo… So I’ll outline some of the things I’ve heard or read about & discuss how I took care of my new tat, so it didn’t cause me any problems at all!.. (“How To Care For New Tattoos” video at the bottom of this page) 😉

In all the aftercare tattoo information I’ve received, there are 3 key factors to take care of a new tattoo :

1. Keep it CLEAN

2. Protect it from SUN & WATER

3. Don’t PICK or RUB as it heals

That’s the 3 main things to remember, so you end up with the awesome tattoo design you paid for!  After you’ve been tattooed, a gauze patch or padding will be applied over the freshly inked skin to protect it.  The biggest debate seems to be how long that patch should stay on? Some artists recommend 2 hours, some say 10-12 hours, & others call somewhere in between!   Then how should it be washed – cold or warm water, how often, & do you need to disinfect the healing wound?  And finally, should you use tattoo cream to moisturise or not?…

I had no problems with taking care of my new tat, by following these simple instructions!.. I was advised to leave my patch on 4 hours, then remove it carefully (wash my hands thoroughly) & gently wash the area with mild soap & warm water in the shower, gently pat the tattoo dry – no rubbing, & apply a good amount of moisturizer a few times each day for 2-3 weeks to prevent it drying, scabbing & peeling too quickly or harshly.

Man's Full Back Tribal Dragon Tattoo

Man's Full Back Tribal Dragon Tattoo

One friend of mine says he NEVER uses tattoo creams or moisturizers like Tattoo Goo, Tatt Wax, Aquaphor, Bepanthen, etc as they seal the skin & don’t let it breathe or dry out properly & may ruin the tat with over-hydration.   He prefers to let them dry out, scab & itch!  Whereas another friend said she uses heaps of Bepanthen cream to avoid the dried out, flaky feeling.  Most artists recommend keeping it moisturized, as it will help to prolong the colour of the image for years to come.  Each to their own I guess! :-)

I was happy to use the non-fragranced Aveeno Lotion as my tattoo cream – a small amount goes a long way, it doesn’t feel greasy & kept my skin soft without excess moisture. And because of this, my tat didn’t actually scab & peel – I had small, soft, inky flakes wipe off the skin surface each time I applied the Aveeno for the first week, some washed off in the shower, but I had no horrible itchy scabs that I’ve heard stories about from other people – I was quite comfortable!

Aveeno Moisturising Lotion

Aveeno Moisturising Lotion

Keep it CLEAN: a simple soap & water wash should be fine for keeping your new tattoo free of infection.  Always have clean hands yourself before you touch it.  The advice I got from the guys at LA Ink was not to let other people touch my healing tattoo & simply to use a fragrance-free soap & warm water as I showered, not rubbing too hard. I followed this advice & was a bit worried when I had my first shower – to see all these little bits of black inky skin washing down the drain & some coming off on the towel as I patted dry!… But it was fine, no damage or fading, just part of the process. Which leads into the next key factor :

Protect it from SUN & WATER: Don’t tan, get sunburnt or soak the fresh tattoo in water! Sun exposure, even for short periods can damage & fade your new tattoo, (& older ones too!..) as the skin in that area will be extremely sensitive & open – being jabbed a million times with needles in one spot has that effect!.. 😉

It IS an open wound cut into the skin, so keeping it loosely covered for a couple of weeks is a good plan when out in the sun & use sunscreen after it’s healed.

Showering is fine to keep the tat clean, but don’t soak in a bathtub, pool, spa, beach – in fact most tattooists say no swimming or soaking for the first 2-3 weeks. If the skin becomes over-hydrated the ink may fade or wash out & there is potentially a higher risk of infection in the softened wound.   Also try to avoid excess sweating & again, just keep your tat clean. For these reasons summertime may not be the best time to be tattooed!…

Don’t PICK or RUB as it heals: Same deal as avoiding sun & water – if you scratch or pick at the healing skin, the tattoo may end up appearing patchy or faded, as some of the ink is pulled away before having a chance to settle into the skin properly.  As I said earlier, I didn’t have any nasty, flaky bits of skin to deal with, because it was well moisturized.   The cream helps the skin heal underneath & allow the top surface to naturally fall away, so my healing tattoo wasn’t very itchy or irritating.

But I had to be careful of it rubbing on my jeans waistband. Not an easy task when I got tattooed in Los Angeles just 3 days before flying home to Australia, (14 hours in economy seating, with a fresh lower back tat – what was I thinking!?..) plus we were riding roller coasters at Disneyland over those days too!.. :-)  I just applied & taped my own padded patches each day that I knew the tattoo might get knocked around on funpark rides, then left it uncovered but moisturised for the long trip home, wearing loose pants. After all that brutality I still ended up with a sweet little Gemini tattoo design that looks great!

My Gemini Creative Tattoo!

My Gemini Lower Back Tattoo!

So it’s not hard to take care of a new tattoo – just pick out something you’ll love for life, get in to see your artist & enjoy the whole tattoo process – life is short, live creatively & colour your world!… 😉

How To Care For New Tattoos:

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