Getting a new tattoo can be exciting or nerve-wracking (usually depending on your pain tolerance), but there’s nothing better than ultimately get the ink that’s been on your mood board for a while.
While it’s common to get lost in all the good feelings that arise as your date approaches, it’s also quite easy to forget that you’re committed to a lot, not just to the artwork that’s there. will forever be engraved on your body. , but also the amount of care needed to ensure your tattoo heals properly.
Meet the experts: Ash Aurich, New York and Miami-based tattoo artist at Uplift Tattoo; Mira Mariah, aka Girl Knew York, a tattoo artist based in New York.
Anyone no stranger to getting a tattoo might already be familiar with aftercare, but for those getting their first tattoo (or their first in a long time), a refresher on best care practices is a must. The healing time for a tattoo depends on the size and details, says Mira Mariah, aka Girl Knew York. However, the average healing time is around three to four weeks, according to tattoo artist Ash Aurich.
Speaking of which, how long it actually takes for your new tattoo to heal largely depends on how well you take care of it. Fortunately, W.H. has you covered with answers to your most asked questions about tattoo aftercare.
How often should I wash my tattoo?
Many tattoo artists will tell you to wash your tattoo twice a day, although this can be very circumstantial, especially in the first few days after your tattoo. If you know you will potentially be exposed to dirt on the way back from your appointment (perhaps your return route requires you to take public transportation, walk through a busy city, etc. ), then you’ll want to clean it up as soon as you get home, advises Mariah. “If you just got in your car and went to the grocery store, you’re probably fine,” she adds. “I tell my clients ‘you know when you’re dirty.'”
Your tattoo artist will wrap your new ink in a protective bandage at the end of your appointment anyway to protect it from dirt and debris, but the type of packaging you get may dictate how you’re supposed to take care of it. tattoo in the days that follow. .
If your artist gives you something like Saniderm, you’ll probably be asked to leave it on for at least three days before you can remove it and clean your tattoo. On the other hand, with a medical bandage, you can remove it the same day of your appointment and gently wash your tattoo with antibacterial soap and water. Mariah and Aurich recommend using Dial soap.
Should I let my tattoo dry dry?
It’s up for debate. Many prefer to dry-heal their tattoos – which allows a tattoo to heal without using the ointments and creams your artist may recommend applying after cleaning them – to avoid overhydration, although Mariah recommends keeping them on hydrated.
“I like to let it dry with a clean towel, paper towel, or air dry, then apply something to help keep it hydrated,” she says. One of her go-tos is Hustle Butter, a coconut oil and mango cream that keeps skin hydrated before and after getting a tattoo.
Aurich adds that using something like Aquaphor Healing Ointment after washing your tattoo can also help with the process.
My tattoo itches me. Is this normal?
Yes, itching and even bruising is normal unless you notice other symptoms like long-term discharge or redness, which could mean infection. The most important thing is that you resist the urge to scratch or rip off your new ink.
Think of it like a scab you get from a cut. If you make a mistake, you risk reopening the wound. It’s okay if your tattoo peels off on its own, but since tattoos are technically wounds to the skin, the best thing to do is let it be.
What can’t I do after getting a new tattoo?
Here is a short list of things you should not do after your appointment:
- No baths, saunas or swimming pools for two weeks.
- No exercise for at least five days.
- Do not sleep with an animal that loses hair or tends to lick near the tattoo.
- Keep out of direct sunlight to avoid fading.
If you’re wondering how long you should keep a tattoo out of the sun, the short answer is… well, forever.
“[The sun] really changes the look of tattoos. And if you’re okay with that, that’s fine with me,” says Mariah. “You really should know that. I want it to be sheltered from the sun. So sometimes if the girls get arm tattoos, I ask them to put a little bandana on their arm.”
She also adds that she’s not the biggest fan of using SPF because you don’t know what chemicals are in the mix and how they can affect the healing process. “I’m really concerned about the non-sterile cream in this new tattoo,” she says.
Can I drink before or after a tattoo?
We’ve all seen a movie or show where a character gets drunk and decides to get a tattoo, but that’s not something you’ll want to do IRL – in fact, some artists won’t even let you.
Drinking before a tattoo thins your blood, which can lead to excessive bleeding. This can discourage your artist and potentially ruin the ink and your final product. Plus, you’re unlikely to make the best decisions under the influence anyway. You want to feel better, so your body can start healing your tattoo as soon as possible.
What if I don’t take care of my new tattoo?
Hope you don’t neglect your new tattoo, but if you do, you’ll probably be fine. Just keep in mind that the tracking process helps prevent infection. Aurich also notes that you might not get the results you hoped for without the right care.
Sabrina is an editorial assistant for Women’s Health. When she’s not writing, you can find her running, training in mixed martial arts, or reading.