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We know you plan to take care of your new tattoo, but you may be neglecting your new ink without even realizing it.

We’re here to lay it all out there. The good, the bad, and the ugly of tattoo aftercare. Keep scrolling for what you need to know.

What Is Tattoo Aftercare?

Tattoo aftercare is the process of caring for your tattoo at home after you get your new ink. You may not get the instructions you need for one reason or another, and you are left to your own devices (which is why we’re here!)

How often do you clean your tattoo and moisturize it, and do you replace the bandage?

Tattoo aftercare is crucial to maintain healthy skin, preserve your new ink, and avoid infection. Aftercare also affects the overall healing and look of the tattoo in the end. So, what does that look like, and what actions should you take to preserve your masterpiece for the long run?

What Are The Tattoo Aftercare Do’s?

Listen To Your Artist

Your artist should cover your tattoo with a sterile absorbing pad and bandage after your session, then give you instructions on how to uncover and clean your piece at home. Some adhesives may cause irritation, so be sure to disclose any allergies with your artists.

Tips: The most important step you can take on the first day of your tattoo aftercare is to understand your tattoo artist’s instructions completely. If you are unsure of any steps of your tattoo aftercare day by day, be sure to ask them for clarification.

Keep It Clean

You’ll likely be removing your bandage on day 2 of your tattoo healing process (if you didn’t already on day 1). At this point, you’ll be feeling the effects of your immune system responding to the tattoo. Remember that your body views the tattoo as a wound, so your day by day tattoo aftercare should take into account your body’s natural responses to an injury.

You’ll probably experience some discomfort, redness, swelling, and oozing. If you have redness that extends outside the tattoo area or severe pain, contact your tattoo artist right away or seek medical help. Most people do not have these more severe issues, especially if they take good care of the tattoo site as part of their day-by-day tattoo aftercare.

Keep It Exposed

After your sesh, keep the bandage on for about three hours (though your artist will specifically tell you how long to keep it — some wraps should stay on for up to a week to support healing). The bandage will help absorb some of the blood, goop, aesthetic cream, and fresh ink, and keep it from soiling your clothes. After you remove that initial bandage, keep your tattoo exposed as much as possible for quicker healing.

If you wear clothing that covers your tattoo, make sure it’s loose-fitting. This helps to prevent the fabric from pressing against your tattoo. If you opt to show off your new ink, wear your tattoo with pride.

What Are The Tattoo Aftercare Don’ts?

We realize that no one intentionally sets out to mistreat their new tattoo. Come on, you’ve waited for what seems like an eternity to get that ink; now you have it, so what’s next?

Even people with the best intentions may accidentally mistreat their tattoo, sacrificing its integrity (and even appearance) in the process.

Here are some things you shouldn't do when caring for your new ink:

Is Dry Healing A Tattoo Bad?

The dry healing method is a controversial one—some people say that moisturizers trap bacteria in the wound, but if you use the correct tattoo moisturizer, this should not happen.

Dry healing may cause:

  • Itching - Dry skin leads to itchy skin, especially when healing. Itchy skin leads to the temptation to scratch or pick at the area, and this may cause scarring, impact the design, and cause bacterial infection. Keep those claws away from your ink!

  • Tight Skin and Scabs - Dry skin often becomes tight and cracks, forming scabs that distort your tattoo.

  • Infections - The most common bacterial infections that tattoos develop are streptococcus and staphylococcus (yikes). Keep your tattoo moisturized with a tattoo balm that soothes dry, healing skin. It’s almost like we thought of that…

Can You Use A Loofah To Wash Your Tattoo?

Negative. Do not use a loofah, sponge, washcloth, or other abrasive items to clean your new tattoo.

A fresh tattoo is a wound, so you must treat it as such. Scratchy, rough loofahs exfoliate the skin and may cause infection or bleeding on the tattoed area. Gently wash the tattoo with your clean hands and a tattoo foam soap and pat it dry with a lint-free towel.

Make sure the tattoo is dry before applying moisturizer to the area. Comprende?

Can You Take A Bath With A New Tattoo?

No way, Jose. Don't submerge your new tattoo in bathwater, swimming pools, hot tubs, or any other kind of open water whatsoever.

Avoid the gym, saunas, and any other warm, moist environment for at least a few weeks post-tattoo service.

Water and moist environments often contain bacteria and organisms that enter the wound and cause infection. Opt for a lukewarm shower instead. Do not allow the heavy stream of water to flow over the tattoo. Instead, gently cup water over it. Gently.

Doing this will keep it clean without allowing water to remain on the tattoo for an extended period of time.

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