A new tattoo, especially if it is your first one, is often something that you waited for and spent a lot of time carefully deciding the image and design you want, the place where the drawing will be applied, etc. It is a personal and permanent work of art with a deep meaning. However, one should never forget that this is also a type of wound because a tattoo gun uses a fast-moving needle to inject ink deep into the skin. That is why proper tattoo aftercare is very important. You need to know how to take care of it to avoid infection. You need to know that good care of your new tattoo immediately after applying it will help it heal quickly and stay bright. Therefore, both for aesthetic reasons and for health reasons, it is important to know what to do when you leave a tattoo studio.
If you decide to have a tattoo, you have probably read a bunch of materials and watched a million videos about skin care after the procedure. But your main consultant should be the tattoo artist who will tell you how to prepare the skin for the procedure, when you can remove the film after applying the drawing, how to take care of the skin in the first 10-14 days, while the healing process is ongoing, how to provide competent skin care in the future, etc.
Proper tattoo aftercare – what to do immediately after the application
Tattooing does not end when the master turns off his tattoo gun. Once the image is applied, the process of skin regeneration begins. During this process the final formation of the tattoo pattern takes place. Even a small tattoo is stress on the skin and any, even the smallest, freshly applied tattoo needs special care as this guarantees the fastest and most painless healing as well as the appearance. The tattoo artist will surely give you some instructions and you should follow all the recommendations.
One of the most common questions is how long does it take for a tattoo to heal? The healing time of a tattoo is individual and depends on a number of factors – the skin condition, immunity, professionalism of the artist, quality of the pigments and tools used, the chosen place for tattooing and, most importantly, following all healing procedures. On average, this process takes from a week to two, and the skin restores completely for up to a month.
Usually, immediately after applying the tattoo, the skin does not look very well – it is red and the spot is swollen. This is normal but you need to help your skin survive the difficult period. As a rule, once your tattoo is done, the artist applies a thin layer of tattoo gel or moisturizer to the entire tattooed area. The area is covered completely with cling film or a bandage for proper protection against bacteria, sunlight and friction on clothing. This ensures the integrity and safety of your tattoo until the time you change the bandage by yourself.
Depending on the type of bandage, the tattoo artist will tell you when it should be changed. Usually it is after several hours. It is understandable that you may feel a temptation to remove the protective bandage and have a look at the tattoo, but you need to resist the desire to do so.
It is very important to know what not to do when you go out of the tattoo studio.
- Do not touch the tattooed area.
- Wash your hands before removing the bandage. Clean hands will help prevent your tattoo from getting infected when you touch it. Remove the bandage slowly and carefully so as not to damage the new tattoo.
- Avoid contact with water. Do not take a bath or shower for a long time. Under the influence of moisture, the skin wrinkles which can ruin the tattoo pattern. The maximum time in water is 10 minutes. After showering, dab the tattooed area with a clean paper towel and let it air dry for up to one hour. When the skin is completely dry, apply a thin layer of moisturizer to the tattoo.
- Do not use soap in the first days after tattooing. And certainly scrubs and peels will not be useful to you. For cleansing, use gel, and preferably cream gel.
- On the day of tattooing and until the damaged area is completely recovered, give up alcohol as it dehydrates the body, respectively, skin. Let the skin recover before having a drink.
- Drink water! The skin condition improves when the body has proper water balance. Therefore, drink at least 2 liters of water per day. This useful recommendation should always be followed not just in connection with a recent tattoo.
- Make sure that the clothes do not injure or rub the skin during the healing period.
- Do not exercise on the first day and avoid activities associated with increased sweating. This period may be longer depending on the place of the tattoo, size, etc.
- Do not take sun baths or visit a solarium and sauna.
- Do not swim in the pool and any open water bodies. Chlorinated water in pools and salt water in the sea can damage the picture.
- Protect your skin from ultraviolet radiation.
You need to seek consult a doctor for help as soon as possible in case that swelling extends beyond the tattoo area, you maintain high temperature for several days after applying the tattoo, if you feel an increasing pain, if there is an unpleasant smell from the tattoo.
Proper tattoo aftercare during the first week
During the first week swelling and redness will gradually disappear every day. At this time a crust begins to form. It is important that you do not remove the crusts and do not scratch the skin.This is the best period to see how the tattoo will look when the skin heals completely, although it will be slightly brighter than the final appearance. Do not forget that during the first week your tattoo is an open wound, so keep it completely safe and sterile clean. Avoid moisture, except when washing. Keep the same washing procedure, wash your hands, be gentle, and avoid soap or washing products containing chemicals. Generally, you should wash your tattoo once a day. However, if you work in a hot or dirty environment, you may need to wash the tattoo every few hours.
Tattoo aftercare during the second week
At the beginning of the second week, the crusts start to peel and you may feel itching. It is hugely important to be exceptionally careful when washing the tattoo not to irritate or and scratch the crust as you may damage the tattoo. Applying moisturizer can relieve the itching significantly. Applying cold tattoo balm also soothes itchy or irritated skin. Make sure you keep your tattoo clean and follow the instructions for tattoo aftercare.
Third and fourth week
This is the period when your epidermis heals itself, and the tattoo is no longer an open wound. It looks healed, but still may be a little unclear for several weeks. The deeper layers of the skin still regenerate, so you should continue to monitor and care for your tattoo. The quality of the drawing depends on how strictly one follows with the rules for caring of a new tattoo. At the same time, the wound goes through different stages of healing with specific characteristics.
This is the last and to most people, the slowest stage of healing and yes, it does require a lot of patience. What usually happens is that larger crusts have peeled off and there may be small remnants of dead skin which will disappear as the healing process progresses. The skin on the tattooed area may look dry so keep on applying moisturizers. Typically, the upper layers of skin recover by the end of the third week while the inner layers need a longer time. Once the surface of the skin has recovered there are no more open wounds that could be attacked by bacteria and chances of infection decrease. One thing that should be remembered is that it is particularly important to protect the tattoo from the sun with clothing during healing period and always apply sunscreen after healing.
Regular tattoo care tips
Everyone knows that good tattoo aftercare immediately after application will ease the healing process. We gave you the minimal requirements and recommendations. Proper care of the tattoo will maintain its brightness and saturation, leave the contours clear and will make you happy for many years. All tattoo artists will recommend a moisturizing product that you need to apply on your tattoo. However, make sure you choose one that is alcohol free. It is also important not to use perfumed creams or lotions. Strong chemicals can irritate the wound and damage the tattooed skin.You may take advantage of coconut or shea butter benefits and use them during healing period and after that for regular maintenance and skin care.
Another important rule is to use sunscreens with a high protection factor for prolonged exposure to the sun at all time after your skin has recovered. This is due to the fact that direct sunlight can affect the color saturation of the image. It is best if you avoid sun exposure.