Please follow the method I recommend at the end of your session. Every tattoo is different and requires a different way of caring. Following are the two different methods I recommend.
This is the “standard” method and most common. I suggest this method for those with smaller tattoos, and those that have had good results with it in the past. Your new tattoo has been bandaged, and this should be removed after at least 1 hour (but no more than 4). It is very important that your new tattoo be protected from the sun and dirty enviroments, as it is a rather large open wound at this time. You should wait to remove the bandage until you can properly clean it with Dial anti-bacterial unscented soap. Wash it gently using your fingertips only. Rinse it well, and pat it dry, then allow it to air-dry for 5-10 mintues before applying any kind of ointment. I recommend Hustle Butter as it is made for tattoos and can be used all the way through the healing process and not clog your pours like products such as a&d or similar petroleum based product. Never use vaseline or neosporin on your new tattoo, these products are counter productive to the healing process. If you don’t have Hustle Butter handy you can use Aquaphor.
You should apply Hustle Butter, or similar product regularly throughout the day, massaging a very small amount into the skin to keep to tattoo slightly moist, but NOT smothered. Use just enough ointment to make the tattoo slightly shiny, and blot off any excess. For the first day or two, your tattoo will require more cleaning, as it will still be losing a bit of fluid, this is normal. It will appear as you dry it that is losing color but I promise that it’s not. You want to make sure that the tattoo stays clean and that extra moisture doesn’t get trapped under the ointment (hence the air-drying). The healing tattoo should never stay submerged in water either. this means that short showers are fine, but any kind of baths or swimming is not. I recommend washing your tattoo as many times a day as you can. Frequency of cleaning depends on your lifestyle, use your best judgement to keep it clean.
Peeling will start anywhere from three days to one week, depending on your body, your general health, and the area of skin that was tattooed. When the peeling begins, the tattooed skin will flake like a healing sunburn, just let this happen on its own, and don’t pick at it. At this point switch from using any kinds of ointments to a mild fragerence free lotion or continue using Hustle Butter.
The following are some problems to look out for with this method. If any “bubbling” of your tattoo occurs, you should stop applying ointment and let it begin to peel on its own. This bubbling is caused from moisture (usually too much ointment!) getting trapped in your tattoo, and could lead to scabbing. If a scab develops, it could possibly remove the color beneath. It is very important that they are allowed to dry out completely, and not at any time get waterlogged. The scab will eventually fall off on its own, and your tattoo should be fine. Also, some people develop a small allergic reaction to the antibiotic agent in ointments, which is why I recommend Hustle Butter as it is made for your new tattoo, but reactions will appear as a red rash around the tattoo and disappears once the ointment is no longer used.
A small percentage of people may develop a more serious reaction, and may require medical attention. It’s going to be on you for the rest of your life, and it only takes a week or two of your attention to ensure it looks good forever.
Larger Extensive Tattoos
This is the less conventional method, and tends to work well for larger tattoos, as well as tattoos in awkward areas that will be covered with clothing, as this can cause irritation. If you find that your tattoos have healed poorly in the past, I strongly suggest this method.
After removing your bandage, washing your tattoo with Dial soap and fingertips, rinsing, and thoroughly pat drying your new tattoo, you will want to completely cover the tattoo in plastic wrap (but not too much of the surrounding area), and use NO ointment. Making sure the plastic is taped on good and will not slide off during your normal day to day activities.
With this method, you will need to keep the tattoo completely covered with plastic wrap 24 hrs a day, washing and changing the wrap every 3 to 4 hours, the more you wash it the better. I suggest the use of medical tape to hold the plastic wrap in place, as you don’t want to over-wrap the area, causing you to sweat more than normal.
Moisture can be very detrimental to the healing process, and too much plastic wrap on the surrounding untattooed skin or not changing the wrap often enough can lead to development of a moisture rash. This will appear as bright red irritation and lots of tiny pimples around the effected area, and will also be very uncomfortable. Should this happen, do not re-wrap the tattoo or try to medicate it, instead let it dry out and when it begins to peel switch to lotion or Hustle Butter. You will also notice for the first few days of this method that your tattoo will lose a bit more fluid than normal, and you may need to change the wrap more regularly. This is completely normal.
When you notice that when u take the wrap off there is no more weeping or discharging fluids, it is time to switch to a mild unscented lotion and continue cleaning it as before. As the tattoo begins to peel it will be very itchy. DO NOT PICK OR SCRATCH your new tattoo, it will flake off on its own. Do not submerge your new tattoo in water or direct sun light during the healing process. Absolutely no tanning beds, swimming pools, hot tubs, or lakes for at least two weeks after your new tattoo.
I wish to strongly reiterate that your new tattoo is an open wound, and needs to be treated as one. Any general disregard for it is just asking for trouble. If you are careless, you may be surprised how easily it can get infected or scab up and lose color. Give your tattoo the time and attention it needs to properly heal. It’s going to be on you for the rest of your life, and it only takes a week or two of your attention to ensure it looks good forever.