For those who love tattoos, there’s nothing like getting some fresh ink. That you like small delicate tattoos or work to complement a full sleeve with intricate designs, tattoos are artistic forms of self-expression. Even celebrities love them. You can choose to have something super meaningful engraved on your body or just decide you want something pretty to look at forever. Obviously, getting a tattoo is a personal choice, and it is also a permanent decision. Either way, you want to make sure that your ink stays at its best for the long haul.
That’s why we spoke to tattoo tracking experts. According to Brian Keith Thompson, founder, owner and CEO of Electric Body Tattoo in West Hollywood, âTattoo aftercare is important because it is a permanent change in your body and you want to make sure that it heals properly. That way you don’t have scarring, pigment fallout or hair loss. infection that can change the look of your tattoo. âWhen you invest in a fresh new ink, you really want to take care of it. Here’s how to prioritize the health, healing, and longevity of your tattoos so they can stay beautiful forever.
How to take care of a new tattoo:
1. Cover it and keep your hands away.
After getting the tattoo done and checking the final result, the first thing your tattoo artist will do is put a clean, transparent bandage on it. According to Thompson, this seals it off, which is important in keeping this newly sensitized area clean and protected from bacteria. âIt’s a breathable, waterproof dressing, which usually stays in place for about two days,â he says. “You can take it off in the shower or to wash off the tattoo, but definitely don’t touch your new tattoo with dirty hands.” This is important because touching your tattoo right away could easily lead to infection.
Orit Markowitz, MD, dermatologist and associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai, agrees. She says it’s important to recognize that a new tattoo is a wide open sore. Because of this, just getting one causes your immune system to make white blood cells to protect against potential infection, which means your body is already overdrive to keep bad things out.
âWhenever the skin is injured, which is the case with tattoo treatment, the recommendation is to keep it covered and moist to help heal wounds and prevent bacterial infections,â she tells us. So while we know it can be tempting to touch, especially at first, don’t do it unless your hands are completely clean.
2. Wash it regularly.
At this point, keeping your fresh tattoo clean is key to promoting its healing and longevity. Thompson simply suggests washing it with mild antibacterial soap and lukewarm water two to three times a day. Be aware that it is quite normal for the tattoo to ooze small amounts of blood for up to 24 hours, and it may also ooze a clear, yellow, or blood-tinged liquid for several days after it is created. This is normal, but you will want to clean it regularly to keep the area clean. When you have finished washing it, you can either let the tattoo breathe or cover it with a breathable bandage or Telfa bandage if necessary.
3. Apply moisturizer often.
Since we now know that keeping an open wound moist is necessary for its healing, it is important to be diligent in applying a non-irritating ointment or fragrance-free lotion to the area.
âRegular petroleum jelly or Aquaphor covered with the soft part of a dressing is the simplest and most effective wound care,â he explains. Dr Markowitz. However, our experts note that you don’t have to overdo it when it comes to creams, ointments, or lotions. Start with a thin layer and simply reapply when the tattoo starts to itch or scab.
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Keeping it simple with this step is the key. âThere are all these companies that make all these lotions and products that are supposed to help you heal, but your body is really going to do all of that, and it really doesn’t need any help healing,â says Thompson. “You just need to keep your tattoo clean and hydrated, and that’s about it.”
4. Don’t attack yourself!
Like any wound on your skin, the tattoo will start to scab over after a few days. First of all, the scabs will be quite shallow, but Dan Hunter, master tattoo artist and founder of Authority tattoo, tells us that between the sixth and fourteenth day after tattooing, you can expect the scabs to start to harden and turn into flakes. Obviously, it can be awkward at first, but Hunter tells us, “Don’t try to pull them or pick them or you’ll remove the ink and leave a scar.” Yes, your skin will start to feel itchy during this time, but just apply moisturizer or ointment gently. If the tattoo turns red and swollen, you may have caught an infection, âhe says. This is when you should see your tattoo artist or doctor.
5. Stay out of the sun.
âDon’t put it in the sun,â says Thompson. âYou’ll notice that if you get a new tattoo and get yourself out in the sun, it’s going to be painful. Pain tells you something. The body doesn’t like it, and the tattoo won’t like it, so definitely keep it out of the sun. Remember that a new tattoo is an open wound, so your body is working hard to heal it.
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âUV light or additional trauma can cause wound healing problems, putting your skin at risk for scar formation,â says Dr. Markowitz. Even one to two hours of direct sunlight can break down the skin and deposited pigment, effectively bleaching your ink over time. This clean and intricate design will look confusing, fuzzy, and faded if you don’t take care of it in the sun.
Even after the inner layers of skin under your tattoo have completely healed, which can take up to a few months, according to Hunter, you’ll still want to make sure you put extra sunscreen on that area. “To get [your tattoo] Looking good for the next 20 years, never forget the sunscreen, because the sun will age your tattoo faster than anything, âsaid Thompson.