Table of contents for Aftercare
- Onward and… (what happens after you get your ink)
- Aftercare, part 3 (specialized tattoo aftercare products)
- Aftercare, Part 2 (protecting your skin and your ink)
- Aftercare, part 1 (about bandages)
OK, so now you’ve chosen your design, chosen your artist, gone through with the tattoo process and you’re home again and enough time has passed that you can peel off the bandage, wash your new ink and admire it.
Well, as with any healing skin wound, it’s going to weep. It’s going to itch. And later on, it’s going to peel. All of which are good reasons to grit your teeth and vow to keep your cotton-pickin’ hands OFF it. Do not scratch, rub, or try to peel yourself. What it boils down to is that you’re going to have to leave that new ink strictly alone if you want it to last.
The problem is that a new tattoo (again, like any other skin wound) is going to form a scab of sorts. (Show me one person who survived childhood without ever wanting to pick off a scab.) Scabs, being far less flexible than the underlying skin, tend to pull at their borders and break in the middle. That may lead to further scab formation. The scabs that form are likely to be colored the same as the underlying ink and it’s all the more tempting to pick at them to get rid of them once and for all.
In a word: DON’T.
If you pick those scabs off before they fall off naturally, you run the very real risk of pulling the ink off with them. Your tattoo will end up with holes in it and will look terrible. Why go to all the trouble and expense to get inked if you’re going to pick the thing to pieces afterwards? Grit your teeth. Keep your mitts off.
Keep using whatever aftercare product you chose. They will usually keep the scabs reasonably soft and less irritating. Wash the area gently with warm water at least once a day and gently pat it dry. You could follow that up with something like Bactine Hurt-Free Antiseptic Wash, which kills germs and also contains a mild topical anaesthetic that may dull the itch and prickle of healing skin. Once that’s dry, reapply your chosen aftercare product with a gentle hand.
The length of time it takes a new tattoo to heal depends entirely on the individual. Some people have smooth, irritation-free skin in a week. For some people the process takes longer, sometimes much longer. And in some cases, which I’ll address more fully in a future post, the skin may never properly heal at all.
Stay out of the sun while your skin is healing, and if your new tattoo is someplace that is normally visible when you’re outside, be sure to apply sunscreen forever after lest the sun fade the ink. (Most ink does fade and sometimes change color over time, which I’ll also talk about in more detail later on.)
The healing process is like getting the tattoo in the first place–endure a little discomfort now, enjoy your ink for a lifetime afterwards.I hope you'll submit my posts to your favorite social media sites. Just don't "submit" them to your own site pretending to be yours. Thanks!