First and foremost, above all, your new tattoo MUST BE KEPT CLEAN! All other care and considerations pale in comparison to this single most important measure. Never touch or allow your tattoo to be touched by hands that have not been thoroughly washed. Properly cleaning your tattoo includes gently massaging with fingers, using liquid antibacterial soaps with no perfume. Dial Antibacterial Liquid Soap® is excellent. And NO!! Axe Body Wash® doesn't qualify. It's best not to use bar soap as it may collect bacteria when used in a shower setting. Always allow 15 minutes of air drying before placing ointments or lotions on a cleansed tattoo. This allows the healing skin to oxygenate and recover resilience. Three solid cleanings per day is very reasonable. You can taper off the frequency of cleaning when all scabbing, flaking and exfoliation has subsided at the approximate two week point.
When your tattoo is completed it will be dressed with bandaging or a sheet of cellophane. The primary purpose for this measure is to protect the injured skin from exposure to dirt, dust, tight clothing, abrasion or any other contaminates. This protection can be removed at any time so long as your environment is conducive to clean healing. It is considered best to keep your tattoo protected in this way during the first night of sleep after the tattoo session is done to protect it from the possibility of clothing or bed sheets sticking to or drying to the tattooed surface of your skin. Typically, non-office work places, outdoors, public grounds such as taverns, restaurants or gyms would require protection. Also, the protection will prevent any ointment used from staining clothing covering the protected area. A balance needs to be achieved with bandaging, however, as it is not wise to keep the tattoo covered indefinitely without regular cleaning or breathing. Cellophane or bandaging should be changed as frequently as possible, allowing proper air drying each time to prevent accumulation of bacteria and matter. Use of such protection is only needed for two to four days or until the tattoo has clearly begun its shedding process. This can take a vastly different amount of time from individual to individual. Tight clothing should be avoided. Direct sunlight needs to be avoided. Ultra-violet light exposure from tanning beds needs to be avoided. Such exposure can directly kill otherwise healthy skin cells, the cells responsible for ink retention in a tattoo.
Do not dismiss the fact that harmful light rays DO NOT fade ink, but instead KILL skin cells leading to migration of ink particles and ink loss, and thus blurring, diffusing and lightening the tattoo. This is particularly critical during the healing process, as the tattooed area of skin has not recovered completely and has not replenished its normal melanin content. Without melanin your skins natural protection from harmful light is all but gone.
The primary use for ointments and lotions in tattoo care is to alleviate the natural and typical discomfort associated with its healing. No product approved for tattoo aftercare actually accelerates or improves the healing in a measurable way other than to supply nutrients and moisture to the skin. Skin is osmotic and only absorbs what it can absorb and no more. Proper hydration, diet and exercise should already supply your skin with everything it needs to heal normally. This is why some individuals experience perfectly normal healing while doing nothing exceptional for aftercare. The biggest purpose for such care is to alleviate the burning, soreness and itching that accompanies a healing tattoo. It also promotes skin elasticity and alleviates tightness. It is considered best to use ointment for the first handful of days as lotion products tend to cause heavy burning in some individuals due to the acetyl alcohol content. Ointments such as A&D ointment are quite acceptable for the first couple of days for its soothing affects. Stronger products such as polysporins and Neosporin® are ABSOLUTELY UNNECESSARY. Not only is tattoo aftercare NOT the recommended use for such products but their anti-infection properties are unneeded if the tattoo is being cleaned properly. It is very typical to bandage or shield a tattoo with cellophane during the time ointment would be used and to cease the protection upon the switch to lotion. Feel free to switch to lotions such as Lubriderm®, Curel®, Vaseline Intensive Care Healing Lotion® or Jergins® when it feels comfortable to do so. DO NOT use any lotion with perfumes. The best time for application is after cleaning and 15 minutes of air drying. Take the time to gently and carefully massage the product into the skin to avoid abrasion and micro-tearing of the skin.
Your tattoo may experience bruising, possible scabbing and eventual flaking for up to two weeks....
DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT!!
Avoid direct sun exposure. (This includes tanning and natural sun).
No hot tubs, saunas, super hot showers, or swimming for approximately 2 weeks.
After your tattoo is healed, if you must be in extended sunlight, use at least a 50 SPF suntan lotion on all tattooed areas to protect it from unnecessary damage to your skin. This will not stop the natural aging process of the tattoo but will significantly lessen the affects of sun exposure.