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Tattoo After Care Advice

Saturday, 28 October 2017
how to look after a tattoo, how to care for a new tattoo, after care for tattoos, tattoo after care advice

Last year I posted a video to my YouTube channel discussing my method of looking after fresh tattoos, and during the purge of my channel to start afresh, I deleted it - and I'm not sure if I've backed it up anywhere as I can't find it on my usual USB sticks! Oops. :( These things happen though, and instead of re-recording any such video, I thought I'd just pop this up as a post. I know it's kinda regurgitated content, but I wanted to share it anyway. 

I've been getting tattooed since I was 19, and I've become quickly accustomed to the care that's involved after I get one. I've worked out a nice routine that suits me, and the only thing I really change up is the lotions I use on it. Everyone is different and you'll probably find your own way of doing things and using products that you really like, but I thought today I'd share how I sort out my fresh tattoos.

If you're looking to get your first one, make sure to check out my Tattoo 101 post!

KEEP IT CLEAN

As the tattoo studio I go to is in town, I often don't go home straight after being inked. I tend to wander around and do a bit of shopping, so I head home a few hours afterwards. When I get in, the first thing I do is unwrap the tape and cellophane, and bin it. It always feels amazing to take that stuff off because my skin and tattoo will be sweating like mad! I often end up with nice black goop leftover from all the sweating that's gone on, so I tend to run the hot water tap in the sink and fill up a shallow basin of warm water. I use a bar of soap and lather it between my hands, and, after rinsing off the excess ink goop, I will essentially wash the tattoo. I use a very light hand and not too much soap, but the idea is just to clean it after it's been stuck under that wrap for a while. Besides, some excess inky bits don't come off unless soap is used. 

After this I'm told to pat it dry with paper towels, but I've always simply used a small, clean towel and a very light hand to gently dab at the tattoo. Don't rub or press down on it! The next thing you want to do is follow it up with lotion.

I don't ever re-wrap my tattoos and I've never been advised to do it. The only time I did it - I asked the tattoo artist who said it would be OK - is when I got my dinosaur thigh piece done. As it was a large piece, my leg was swollen and I was at work on my feet full-time, I wanted to make sure it was well protected and that when I was applying lotion it wouldn't stick to my joggers. In some cases, it is better to clingfilm the tattoo before work. If you're unsure, ask your artist - they're there to help you out with these kinds of questions!

APPLY LOTION

Whichever lotion you choose to use, make sure to apply it well throughout the day. In some cases I have only applied it 3 times a day, in others, 5 times. It's a bit of a judgement call as if the skin is feeling dry it's best to apply some to be on the safe side. You want to keep the skin nourished and moisturised. For the majority of my tattoos I have used Bepanthen. Although most tattoo artists don't recommend it, I find that it's healed up my tattoos well. If you do try it, be sure to pop the tube into a cup of hot water as it makes it easier to rub on - the fact that Bepanthen is stiff and quite hard to work with is why I swap to Derm Ink Tattoo Balm for the first week or so of having a new tattoo - it's fast absorbing and is easy to spread and apply, meaning it isn't going to cause pain or discomfort to apply it on a fresh tattoo. It's a little pricey per bottle but is a nice alternative for those initial few days. You can read my full review here.

I've seen loads of people recommend LUSH products for healing tattoos - a tattoo artist I used to follow on Instagram recommended Elbow Grease, but most people seem to use Dream Cream, which I've bought to test myself. I haven't been tattooed since I bought it so I've yet to try it out, but I've heard that it works brilliantly. 

I've also seen people use the likes of coconut or almond oil, but I haven't tried either of these. Your artist will recommend you something if you ask them, and often you'll be able to buy after care products right there in the studio.

DON'T ITCH OR PICK IT

After the initial few days of discomfort, the tattoo will start to heal up and as such it will go flaky and start to peel. It'll resemble something like sunburn, or dried PVA glue, and although it's super tempting to pick at it, don't! It'll ruin the tattoo by removing colour and line-work - a good artist will do your touch-ups for free, so if you do end up taking off a bit of ink, they will hopefully be able to fix it for you. I find the dark, solid black used in traditional work to be the worst for being a) incredibly itchy and b) vulnerable to having inked removed. Also, even if there are quite intense scabs - which tends to happen towards the very end of healing -, make sure not to touch these either as they're the worst for removing ink!

Your tattoo will also become itchy as fuck, but whatever you do, don't itch it either - that's how I've managed to remove colour from a few of mine as I've remembered itching the tattoo whilst half-awake in the middle of the night! If you need some relief, try patting the area or applying more lotion.

I hope this post was helpful to any tattoo newbies, and let me know if I left something out! What are your favourite products for tattoo healing?

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