The life of your tattoo and how it will look for years to come is dependent upon the care it receives within the first few days. Proper care of your tattoo is your responsibility once you leave the shop. A really beautiful tattoo can turn into a disaster if the proper aftercare is not taken.
Your new tattoo will be tender to the touch and feel like a sunburn. If the tattoo is in an area where it can be exposed to the air, allow it to breathe, careful not to expose it to the sun. Allowing the tattoo to breathe will help the healing. Your body and oxygen are going to heal the tattoo. If possible, wear loose fitting clothing over the tattoo and be careful not to suffocate the tattoo with socks or pantyhose.
What to Do:
If bandaged, leave the bandage on per your artist recommendation. After you remove the bandage, you will want to wash your tattoo. Use lukewarm water and mild soap to gently wash away any ointment, blood and/or plasma and to completely clean the area. Do not use a washcloth or anything abrasive. Your hand is your best tool in this case. (If your tattoo feels slimy and slippery, you have probably been oozing plasma. Try to gently remove as much of this as possible - when the plasma dries on the skin surface, it creates scabs.)
Then pat (do not rub) the area firmly with a paper towel to get it dry. Follow with a very light application of aftercare ointment.
**Do not use Neosporin. This is a wonderful product for cuts and scrapes, but not for tattoos. Some people can have an allergic reaction to the Neosporin, which causes little red bumps. When the bumps go away, so does the ink, and you end up with a polka-dotted tattoo.**
After 3 days, continue to keep it clean, but you can switch to an UNSCENTED lotion when needed, or continue to use your aftercare product, to keep the skin soft. Whatever lotion you use, it should be dye and fragrance free.
Keep tattoo from drying out until ALL signs of peeling and/or scabbing disappear (usually 7-10 days).
Always wash your hands before applying any ointment or lotion. If someone else is applying this for you, instruct them to wash their hands before touching your tattoo.
Somewhere between 3 and 6 days, the tattoo will start to flake. Do not pick at or scratch. Use lotion to help control the itching. Let the skin peel naturally. You will notice small pieces of dry skin containing color coming off. This is normal.
Always keep your tattoo clean, and protected from the sun.
Once bandage is completely removed DO NOT re-bandage the tattoo. Unless instructed otherwise.
DO NOT use a wash cloth, loofa, or sponge to clean your tattoo! Only use your fingertips/hands.
DO NOT touch your tattoo with dirty hands, and don’t let anyone else either!
Do NOT use cloth towels to dry your tattoo, as cloth towels can harbor bacteria.
NO direct sunlight or tanning on the tattoo for first 2-3 weeks.
DO NOT pick or scratch the tattoo while it is peeling.
DO NOT soak the tattoo for 2 weeks. No swimming, baths, hot tubs or saunas for 2 weeks. When the tattoo has completely peeled, swimming or soaking is OK.
No shaving or waxing the area until the tattoo is completely healed.
DO NOT apply alcohol, Vaseline, petroleum jelly or sunblock to a fresh tattoo.
DO NOT listen to friends or so-called tattoo experts. If you have questions, call/visit the artist that did your tattoo!