Tattoo care instructions

How to treat your tattoo

I have two different recommendations for aftercare depending on which bandage was applied at the end of the tattoo session:

Option 1

Vaseline and plastic barrier

  • at the end of the session I will have applied a layer of Vaseline or other ‘glide’ and wrapped the tattoo in a bandage to prevent contamination. A second reason for this is to let the tattoo ‘weep’ without becoming dry (‘weeping’ is when the plasma and sometimes blood is drawn to lay on the surface of the tattoo. This can happen a lot or a little depending on the tattoo)

  • be sure to eat a good meal and stay hydrated. This is important for before your tattoo but also afterward as your body needs proper resources and rest to heal. 

  • before you go to bed take off the bandage and throw it away (never re-use bandages or rebandage the tattoo!). Jump in the shower and use warm water and unscented soap to wash away the surface layer of ink, Vaseline, and plasma with your hands.

  • get some clean paper towel and dab the tattoo until it’s dry. You don’t want to go rubbing a used towel that may be filled with bacteria on a fresh tattoo.

  • leave the tattoo as uncovered as possible. Be aware that it may still experience some weeping overnight so be prepared you may stain a nice white sheet.

  • over the next 3 days let the tattoo dry out, do not apply any moisturizer but do wash with warm water and mild soap once per day. Do your best to keep the tattoo clean and dry.

  • after 2 or 3 days the tattoo will start to get very dry, flaky, and may feel itchy. Do not scratch the healing tattoo! Let the bits of surface skin shed as they do naturally and avoid tight fitting clothing if possible. I often dry heal my tattoos but depending on your skin and the surrounding climate this may be too irritating for you. You don’t want your skin to be so dry that it develops cracks or splits so apply a small amount of moisturizer after day 3 when necessary. Most ‘tattoo moisturizer’ products found in a pharmacy will be fine as well as any unscented moisturizer (preferably water based) or even clean, organic coconut oil.

  • your tattoo should be healed after 1 to 3 weeks. You will know your tattoo is healed when it stops being dry, itchy, and flaky and all the surface bits or scabbing have gone away. At this point you can treat your skin as you normally would. Be aware that parts of the skin may appear shiny or slightly raised for a few weeks or even a few months afterward. I refer to this as ‘settling’. Even though at this point the surface ‘wound’ has fully closed it may take several months for the layers of skin between the surface and the tattoo below to fully shed and be replaced and for your tattoo to look as it will in the coming years. (This is one reason I recommend waiting several months before getting a touch up if one is needed)

Option 2

“Second Skin”/Saniderm/Dagaderm

  • at the end of the tattoo session you will have the barrier covering the entirety of the tattoo. This barrier is meant to lock in the plasma/platelets that would normally weep out of your skin and become a scab when dried out. This fluid (often mixed with ink on the surface of the tattoo) will remain trapped underneath the bandage and heal your skin while it does.

  • you can leave this bandage on for 3 to 5 days. You can take it in the shower, and even submerge it in water for short periods. Just be aware if you expose the bandage to excess heat/moisture it will start to come off. If the bandage has been partly removed such that you have exposed tattoo it is time to take it off completely.

  • when removing the bandage it can be made easier after soaking in warm water for 10-15 minutes. Pull firmly, gently and slowly on the barrier, parallel to the skin until it is fully removed. Your skin may stretch more than you think, don’t worry this is normal.

  • Wash the tattoo with warm water and unscented soap and pat dry with clean paper towel. Sometimes a residue can be left around the tattoo leftover from the adhesive of the bandage. Do not worry about this or try to scrape it off, it will come off with time, washing and the natural oils in your skin.

    some small percentage of clients experience a persistent redness/irritation and red bumps starting a few hours or the day after applying the bandage. If this happens to you don’t worry, you may have a sensitivity to the adhesive but you do want to skip right to the step where you remove the bandage. If this is the case you should inform the next person who tattoos you so you can avoid potential irritation in the future

  • keep the tattoo clean and dry, washing once per day or whenever it gets dirty with warm water and mild unscented soap. You can apply a small amount of moisturizer when it gets dry, flaky, or itchy (any ‘tattoo moisturizer’ product sold in a pharmacy should be fine as well as light, unsceneted lotions and even clean, organic coconut oil).

  • do not rebandage the tattoo and avoid tight fitting clothing where possible.

  • avoid pools, saunas, lakes/rivers, sun tanning, abrasive damage from sports or pets and any skin care products that are alcohol based, astringent or heavily scented. 

  • the better you treat your skin in the years after your tattoo appointment the better your tattoo will look over time. This means staying properly hydrated, having a good diet, avoiding damage cause by extreme cold or uv radiation from the sun, getting proper rest and maintaining a moisturizing regiment that works with your skin.

    don’t stress! If you have any questions or concerns you can always reach out. I like keeping up with my clients to see how their tattoos look and feel over time