These guidelines are simply my recommendations based upon experience and are not a substitute for medical advice.
Starting the heal
Starting the heal a Second-Skin Bandage:
- If using a second-skin bandage, leave it on for 4-5 days, so long as it stays well-adhered and you don’t develop a rash.
- If the second-skin leaks or begins to detach, remove it and do a regular heal.
- To remove second-skin, get it wet in the shower and slowly peel off.
Starting the heal with a regular bandage:
- With a regular bandage, leave it on for 4-8 hours, and then remove gently and immediately wash the tattoo.
After the bandage comes off
- Wash your fresh tattoo 2-3 times per day, or whenever it comes into contact with anything potentially dirty
- Use unscented soap and warm water to clean your tattoo
- After cleaning it, pat dry with a freshly washed towel or air dry with a fan
- Keep the tattoo dry as much as possible.
- You may shower normally with a fresh tattoo, but avoid 'soaking' the tattoo and running it under water for long periods of time.
- Once your tattoo is fully scabbed over, use an unscented lotion or aquaphor 2-3 times a day to moisturize it. Don’t soak the tattoo or overdo it.
- You do not need to use any other aftercare products- only soap to clean it and lotion or aquaphor to moisturize it.
Things to avoid
- Avoid wearing tight / restrictive clothing against your fresh tattoo.
- Avoid direct sunlight on your fresh tattoo, as it will easily burn and can fade pigment.
- Do not swim, take a bath or go into a hot tub for 1 month after your tattoo.
- While your tattoo is ‘fresh’ and has not scabbed yet, be very careful of any dirty surface, including chairs, pets, sand, etc, as the tattoo is an open wound.
- Never use scented products on your tattoo.
- Avoid coconut oils and nut oils as lower-grade oils can have micro-particles of husk which promote infection.
- Do not use antibiotic creams such as polysporin on a tattoo unless advised to by a doctor.
- Do not pick scabs, even if it’s super itchy. This can result in pigment being lost and cause infections.
- Black and grey or dotwork tattoos will be mostly or entirely healed within 1-2 weeks.
- Color tattoos will be mostly or entirely healed within 3 weeks - 1 month.
- Color tattoos take longer to stop being 'shiny'. It may take a couple of months for fresh skin to grow over the healed tattoo to make it appear flat, this is normal.
- Don't worry about touchups until minimum 1 month after your appointment. Touchups should ideally occur 1-2 months after you get the tattoo.
- Swelling, redness and discomfort within the first 1-4 days of a tattoo being fresh are normal.
- If your tattoo is quite swollen, you may use an insulated ice pack and elevate the tattoo the help with the discomfort.
- Thick, uncomfortable scabs and flaking are quite normal particularly with color tattoos, and this can persist for up to 3 weeks.
- In rare cases, your body may 'reject' a certain pigment, and have trouble healing it properly. This process is unpredictable and not well understood. If you notice that a particular color is 'weeping' out more than normal, don't panic and contact your tattooer. While this looks scary, it often isn't too big of an issue and the area that is lightened can be retouched with a different pigment once the tattoo is healed.
- If you have any minor concerns about the heal, contact your tattooer immediately.
- If you have any major concerns about the heal, such as potential infection, consult a medical professional immediately.
- If you accidentally touch something gross with your fresh tattoo (a pet, the beach, a swamp), immediately wash and dry it as per the care instructions above and be diligent to watch for signs of infection.
- It is quite uncommon but possible for a tattoo to become infected. Many of the 'regular' discomforts of healing a tattoo are often mistaken for infection, as healing a tattoo hurts. Watch out for severe redness, severe discomfort, non-clear discharge, 'hotness' at the tattoo site, or anything that you feel is out of the ordinary. Consult a medical professional immediately if you suspect infection.