After getting any tattoo, whether it is a small one or a larger design, proper tattoo aftercare can ensure that your tattoo remains bright and the tattoo area heals quickly. While a tattoo is a very minimally invasive procedure, your investment of time and money will be well rewarded by paying attention to the aftercare requirements of your new artwork. Everyone heals differently, but depending on the size of your tattoo you should expect anywhere from a few days to two or three weeks for total recovery.
First, take it easy for a day or two afterward. Let your body begin the healing process on its own. Keep the tattoo area clean and stay out of the sun. Avoid swimming, especially in chlorinated water. Keeping the tattoo dry and clean will help the colors ‘set’ and remain bright for years to come. If you have any discomfort during the first 24-48 hours, contact the tattoo shop and artist immediately! Remember to gently wash the area with an anti-bacterial soap and cleanse only with clear, cool water.
For the first day or two use a light oil to keep your skin hydrated. Aquaphor, Vitamin E oil, tea tree oil, hemp oil, or other light oils that are rich in fatty acids while allowing skin to breathe are best. Check the ingredient list to ensure that no colors, fragrances, or preservatives have been added as these will likely irritate your skin in the area of the tattoo. Take care to apply the oil very sparingly over the tattoo. If you can see a shiny area, you have applied too much oil. Dab the extra off with a soft towel or tissue. After the first few days start using a fragrance-free lotion for the remaining time to heal. After the tattoo area has healed, you can be more generous with the lotion and or oil.
Do not pick at your tattoo. If you have a tendency to do this, protect the artwork with an oversized gauze bandage that does not touch your skin. Tape the edges of the gauze pad well away from edges of the tattoo to allow air to reach the ink and speed healing. Within a few days, your artwork will be bright and beautiful.