To heal you'll need....
- gentle LIQUID fragrance free soap (Dr. Bronners baby, Dove or something similar). Bar soap can carry bacteria, so liquid is ideal. Do not use chemically fragranced products as they will cause pain and irritation which will hinder your healing. Antibacterial soaps are not necesssary.
- raw shea butter and vitamin e oil When used in tandem these two products are an organic healing ointment that will not suffocate or irritate your skin. Both can be found at health food stores or coops, as well as most pharmacies in the body care aisle.
OR - an alcohol and fragrance free lotion ( I recommend Aveeno baby or cocoa butter) Both are available in the baby aisle at most stores and pharmacies.
AVOID thick ointments such as over the counter triple antibiotic ointment, bacitracin, Vaseline or even coconut oil (a natural antiseptic). Your body is healing itself. Overuse of healing products can actually cause more damage than good.
How to take care of your new tattoo
Provided you have no adhesive allergies when we're all done, I'll bandage you in a clear medical second skin called Tegederm. Keep your tattoo bandaged for about 48-72 hours or until you can wash it under warm water in a clean environment. Do not be alarmed if there is some degree of plasma or ink collects inside the bandage during the first day making a pool of ink or smeared effect. This is part of the healing process.
To remove the tegederm pull gently from one corner until it is removed. It may be a little uncomfortable because you’re pulling off a giant bandaid. Don’t be alarmed, there will likely be a ghost image of ink stuck to the plastic. You’re not pulling off your skin or your tattoo!
*If you are new to Tegederm I will put on a slightly bigger piece than you need and recommend pulling the corners of the bandage back about 1/4 inch after 12 hours to be sure you’re not having any reaction to it. Some folx have a minor red reaction that disappears quickly, others have had discomfort that lasts for days so please pay attention and get ahold of me if you have any questions.
With clean hands gently wash your tattoo. Use a soapy lather and apply light pressure to remove the layer of plasma on top of the skin. Rinse and repeat as necessary until the skin feels clean, but do not scrub.
Let the area air dry for 5 minutes OR pat pat dry with a paper towel. Do not use a cloth towel or wash cloth because it will leave fibers on your tattoo which can cause infection.
With clean hands, apply a few drops of vitamin e oil and massage gently into the skin. Warm a small dab of shea butter in your hands. Gently massage shea on top of the vitamin E oil to act as an added protective barrier.
OR apply a small amount of lotion and massage into the skin.
Wash your tattoo once a day with clean hands, minding it does not get waterlogged.
Apply moisturizer a 3-5 times a day for the next two weeks.
In about 5 days your tattoo will start to peel (almost like pills on a sweater) and likely become itchy. The topical layer will be mostly healed but the under layers are still healing. If a few bits of flaking skin come off while you’re moisturizing it's ok so long as you don't actively pull or tear off any that are still attached as they will leave a noticeable absence of ink.
Be sure to continue massaging lotion gently into your tattoo regularly. If you are itchy, that's your body begging for moisture. Try a light slap instead of scratching.
Do not bandage your tattoo again as it needs air to heal. If for some reason lightweight, loose-fitting cotton clothes don't cover the tattoo and you have dirty work to do, use a non-stick bandage for a minimal period of time, making sure it is lightly lubricated beneath.
Keep your skin moisturized but not moist. Over application of any moisturizer will suffocate the tattoo and hinder healing by allowing bacteria buildup which could lead to infection. Find the balance of moisturizing when the skin feels tight and a little dry but before it dries out completely which could cause ink to crack and fall out. Less is more. Your body is healing from the inside out. We are just protecting the topical layers while the skin is stitching itself back together to prevent scarring or scabbing.
DO NOT PICK, SCRATCH or SCRUB YOUR TATTOO. No itching, loofas, sponges or scrubbies. Some scabbing is normal to the healing process.
AVOID soaking your new tattoo in the shower, tub, pool, hot tub, sauna, river or ocean for 6 weeks. Initial soaking during healing can pull the ink right out of your skin. Chlorine will literally bleach the pigment out of your new adornment. And yes, I love the rivers and the oceans too, but there can be unknown bacteria in the water which can enter your bloodstream through your open wound and can wreak havoc on you and the artwork we make.
AVOID direct sunlight on your tattoo for 6 weeks. You should always wear sunblock on your tattoo (after it has healed) for the rest of your life. SUN DAMAGES TATTOO PIGMENT AND WILL DEGRADE YOUR ART.
AVOID intense exercise for the first 2-4 weeks if it affects the area of the new tattoo. Be weary of any significant sweating, repetitive stretching or pulling of the skin at and around your new tattoo as this may affect the ink as it's settling into your skin.
STAY hydrated! your body is healing itself. We're protecting the topical layers during the wound phase. Drink plenty of water and nourish yourself before and after receiving a tattoo. Your overall well being will determine how well you heal.
If you have any questions comments or concerns during your healing process please reach out to me or to the shop. There's no such thing as a stupid question when healing a tattoo. Some redness, swelling, light bruising or little red bumps are normal due to the irritation of shaving, clogging pores with lotions, and the general localized abuse that happens from a needle pushing ink into your skin for extended time periods. However please get ahold of us ASAP if there is any lasting redness, intense pain, yellow or green puss or any other severe situations. We may ask you to come in for assessment or direct you to a medical provider.