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.
- pure vitamin e oil & raw shea butter
OR an alcohol and fragrance free lotion (Aveeno baby, cocoa butter)
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. Cheaper, more common alternatives are listed above! I recommend Aveeno Baby specifically which can be found in any baby aisle.
How to take care of your new tattoo
When we're all done, I'll wrap you up in a medical second skin called Tegederm. Keep your tattoo bandaged for about 48 hours or until you can wash it under warm water in a clean environment. The bandage is very sticky, so tug gently from one corner until it is removed. Doing this under running water helps considerably. Note, you are not pulling off your skin or your tattoo! Also do not be alarmed if there is some degree of plasma or ink collects inside the bandage. This is part of the healing process.
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. Shower normally but do not soak or waterlog your tattoo.
Let the tattoo air dry for 5 minutes OR Pat pat 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 drop of vitamin e oil and massage gently into the surface of the tattoo.
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.
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.
Wash your tattoo morning and night with clean hands.
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. This means the topical layer is healed but the under layers are still healing. 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. If a few bits of flaking skin come off it's ok so long as you don't actively pull off any bits that are still attached as they will leave a noticeable absence of ink.
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. Always. 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. Moisturizing will not heal your tattoo-- your body does that!
AVOID soaking your new tattoo in the shower, tub, pool, hot tub, sauna, river or ocean for 6 weeks. Initial soaking during cleaning can pull the ink right out of your skin. Chlorine will literally bleach the color out of your new investment. 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 healing ointments such as over the counter triple antibiotic ointment, bacitracin or even coconut oil (a natural antiseptic). Your body is healing itself. Overuse of healing products can actually cause more damage than good.
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 stretching or pulling of the area that may tear the ink as it's still tight and 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. We will likely ask you to come in to assess the issue in person but it can't hurt to reach out if you aren't sure about any little thing! 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.