for tattooed people, and those who want to be

Aftercare, Part 2 (protecting your skin and your ink)


The one thing everyone agrees on is that you should protect your newly tattooed skin while it heals. The skin itself is going to get dry and flaky and the epidermis is going to peel off after the new skin forms underneath. It’s rather like what happens when you get a sunburn that peels.

So you need to keep the healing epidermis moisturized so that your new ink doesn’t peel off along with the skin. (When the skin peels off it may look like the color is going with it, but it’s nothing to be alarmed about.)

What to use to keep the skin moist is a matter of debate. Some artists suggest using some kind of antibacterial ointment. However, most of those are petroleum based and will not only keep your skin from breathing, but might well contribute to future sensitivities. In general, one should avoid antibacterials–you run the risk of irritating your skin with the chemicals, plus any bacteria on your skin may develop resistance to the medication and cause way more trouble in the future. If you’re worried about germs, washing gently with regular soap and water should do the job. Just don’t scrub your skin–in fact, don’t even use a washcloth, just your hand. Rinse it off under gently running warm water and pat (don’t rub) dry with a clean towel. Put the towel in the wash afterwards, because it may well have ink on it.

Some artists advise using a specific brand of lotion on your skin. If the artist’s clients have had good luck with that brand, there’s generally no harm in using it, but be aware that lotions contain all kinds of possibly-sensitizing ingredients as well. And even a brand that you’ve used successfully on your hands before (for regular dry skin) might cause a different reaction when put on injured skin because more of it would be absorbed into the bloodstream. However, the tattoo artists who recommend a particular brand generally have a lot of client experience to base their recommendations on, so that brand should generally be safe.

And then there are the proprietary after-tattoo products like Black Cat and Tattoo Goo. I’ll talk a bit more about those in the next installment.

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Author: infmom

I got my first tattoo when I was 46. I hope the people who read this blog don't have to wait that long. I love talking about body art.

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