There is so much conflicting information that it may be overwhelming to decide what is the right way to take care of your new tattoo. Whether this is your first tattoo, or you have had one (or many) in the past, you may want to learn about a better way to heal your tattoo to get the best outcome (vibrant, amazing looking art) that will look good for years to come.
Getting a tattoo is not what it was years ago, the tattoo machines are evolving, the artist are perfecting their craft, new colored ink is emerging and with this evolution of tattooing, comes a better way to heal. I have said this before and I stand behind what I say, lotions are NOT the best way to heal. To learn more on why I say this, read my blog on why Lotions Suck for Tattoos. You may still hear others say that they have used lotions in the past and their tattoo healed just fine. But really, do you want a just fine tattoo, or do you want an amazing looking tattoo? Afterall, you spent time looking for just the right tattoo (or maybe you just put a coin in a gumball machine and "get what you get") either way, you spent your hard-earned money on the art that is going to go with you on your journey of life. It will travel with you to work, play, and even on dates. Well, you get the idea. They are part of who you are.
So, let's get down to how to properly take care of tattoos. Right after you get your tattoo and your artist snaps a picture for his social media, they will usually cover it. There are a variety of ways artists cover the tattoos including plastic wrap or a type of transparent film dressing also known as a dermal bandage. The plastic wrap is usually taped on and does not hold up well for long, but it will keep it covered until you get home. The transparent film has gained popularity in the tattoo industry because it lasts longer, is more medical grade and you can see your tattoo through it and show it off. I will say that using Tegaderm in the hospital for years on IV sites makes me understand why this has gained popularity. You may be told the transparent film should stay on anywhere from 24 hours to 7 days.
Here is my two cents on this.
The transparent film should only stay on for a maximum of 24 hours. And this is why I say this: During the first 24 hours your body is starting to heal from the tattoo session and blood, plasma and lymph fluid may be seen between the dressing and your skin. You do not want the fluid to sit longer than 24 hours as it may cause maceration. Maceration is when prolonged moisture causes skin to become soft and breaks down the skin. Your skin may look soggy or feel softer than the rest of your skin or may start to look white. (A not so scary picture can be seen below).
The longer the skin stays in contact with body fluids, the higher the risk of skin break down.
At the 24-hour mark (or sooner if you need to), take the bandage off and WASH your tattoo with an unscented, antibacterial soap. (Don't use a bar of soap, use a pump soap such as Dial). You can pat dry the tattoo - by using a paper towel. DO NOT RUB!
Now is the time to look at the tattoo and first admire it and next look for signs of infection. Infections are rare but can occur, so it is important to be mindful. Take a good look at your tattoo and notice anything that may indicate the beginning of an infection. Click here to learn more about infections and see some pictures.
Don't let the fear of getting an infection sway you away from getting a tattoo, just make sure you find a clean tattoo shop that follows sanitary conditions (which means don't get a tattoo from a friend who decided to tattoo a week ago and does not know the first thing about safe tattooing). Secondly, make sure you take care of your tattoo while it is healing.
So on to what to expect after the 24-hour period of healing. Just like wound healing, there are four stages.
First Stage: (0-7th day) This stage wash your tattoo 2-3 times a day with an unscented antibacterial soap and then apply Tatty Stick or Tatty Squeeze aftercare. To learn why these two all-natural products are recommended, please click here. Remember, any product that has petroleum in it delays healing and you will not have the best-looking tattoo when it is fully healed. And... back to the first stage: Tattoo weeping can occur which can consist of clear plasma and ink that your body oozes for the first few days. Again, look out for signs of infection.
Second Stage (8-15th day) This is when ‘Itching’ may start. Itching is a sign your tattoo has entered the second stage and is continuing to heal. Some may not experience this as much or at all. Just know that your body is still healing underneath the top layer of skin whether you have itching or not. Continue to wash your tattoo 1-2 times a day and apply Tatty Stick or Tatty Squeeze Aftercare. It is important to continue to apply Tatty Stick as it helps decrease itching and continues to help heal your tattoo all the way down to the lower layers of your skin. If you itch or pick at your tattoo, you can cause small breaks in the skin and increase your risk for infection.
Third Stage (16-30th day) By the time you reach this stage, your tattoo has healed approximately 80%. Keep applying your aftercare once a day to help the lower layers of your skin continue to heal.
Fourth Stage (2nd month onwards) Aftercare care continues to be important to keep your body art looking its best. At this time, you may switch to Tatty Daddy Cream. This cream has the same ingredients as the Tatty Sticks or Tatty Squeeze but has a cream lotion base without any petroleum.
Remember while healing a new tattoo to keep it covered if you are going outside in the sun. Once the tattoo is healed, apply sunscreen every time you go out in the sun to avoid fading.
To keep your tattoo vibrant after it is healed, we recommend applying Tatty Daddy Cream to maintain your tattoo. As your skin ages and as you get older, the epidermis loses lipids which keep your skin moisturized. It is important to maintain your skin and tattoo. Be proud of your ink... it is part of you!