Your body art can be wasted without proper tattoo aftercare. However, just by following these simple steps, you can keep your tattoo looking great for years to come:
Let your tattoo heal.
Tattoo artists normally have specific instructions about how to help your tattoo heal. When you leave the studio, your tattoo will most probably be covered with a bandage. During your first day with the tattoo, you will most likely be instructed to:
- Take the bandage off after a few hours. Before taking off the bandage, make sure to wash your hands and dry them thoroughly before taking off the bandage.
- Gently rinse that tattoo and its surrounding area with mild soap and water. Instead of using a washcloth or sponge, lightly rub the soap and water on your tattoo with your fingers.
- Dab the tattoo until dry using a very soft towel – do not rub it.
- Allow the tattoo to dry before putting on any lotions or moisturizers.
Keep your tattoo moist.
The most important thing you can do to ensure long-lasting colour and detail for your tattoo is by keeping it moisturized. The moisture will prevent the tattoo from developing a scab – this can rob it of colour. There are many different products available, ranging from standard moisturizing creams and lotions to antibiotic ointments specifically made for body art. Although advice may differ between tattoo studios about which product to use, the way it is used is pretty standard:
- Using clean and dry fingers, rub a small amount of cream, lotion or tattoo into the tattoo.
- Wipe off any extra cream. Keep in mind that using too much moisturizer is just as bad as not using any at all.
- Keep the tattoo exposed to air – do not cover it with any bandages.
- Reapply moisturizer several times a day, especially if the tattoo feels dry.
Avoid the sun.
One of the quickest ways to damage your tattoo is by exposing it directly to the sun, especially when it is still new. Sunburn can cause a scab to form over the tattoo, which may scar the skin, fading the ink. You need to follow this step of tattoo aftercare for as long as you have the tattoo:
- In the first few weeks, it is best to keep the tattoo out of the sun altogether. This means keeping your shirt on if the tattoo is on your back, chest or arms, and wearing long pants if the tattoo is on your legs. If you should go swimming or head to the beach, try covering your tattoo with a loose bandage that would not rub the skin. Remove the bandage as soon as you are under the shade or can cover it up with clothing.
- After the tattoo is fully healed, you should put sunscreen on it. Remember, long-term exposure to the sun can make the dyes and pigments fade – even after you have had the tattoo for a few years. It is best to use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 anytime the tattoo will be under the sun or if you visit a tanning booth.