A tattoo isn’t complete or permanent until it is fully healed. This takes active participation on your part.
You may find this page long winded,
but it's fairly thorough.
Wash your hands!
Remove the bandage after one hour, two maximum.
All wounds need to breathe if they are to heal properly.
Wash the tattoo using your fingertips or hand only. Use a mild antibacterial soap and warm water. Take care to remove all traces of blood to decrease your chances of scabbing. Do not scrub the tattoo with a washcloth during the two week healing period. Always gently pat the tattoo dry with a clean soft cloth or just let it air dry.
Apply a thin coat of ointment to the tattoo...
Aquaphor, Bacitracin, A&D Ointment and Tattoo Goo are all very good.
(Just enough to make it shine, a little goes a long way... less is more.) Work it in well, like you would with a lotion. Dab off all the excess with a paper towel. You should barely be able to tell that it's there. This is just enough to moisturize the tattoo and to
keep it from scabbing heavily.
*If you can see it shiny on the surface of the skin, there's too much.*
Please Note: There's a difference between "moisturizing your tattoo" and "keeping it moist." Moist implies 'wet', which is bad. It's nearly the same as soaking it in water.
Your body will absorb what it needs where it needs it, usually within the first ten minutes. Your body heat can liquefy any leftover ointment and it may become glossy looking or runny. This means there's still too much on there. Dab more off. Too much ointment will only suffocate the tattoo, clog pores and make a mushy mess of any scabs that may have formed causing the ink to fall out and look blotchy.
There is no need to re-bandage the tattoo.
Ointment should be applied twice a day for two to three days (more is not better)
then switch to moisturizer like Aveeno, Eucerin, Keri, Lubriderm, Curel, or Jergens.
Apply moisturizer twice a day for the remainder of two weeks.
Do not use lotions that contain color or fragrance or sparkles until the healing is complete. (Usually anywhere from ten days to two weeks; Possibly a little longer.)
Your skin will form a protective layer to protect the tattoo while it's healing. Most of the time the tattoo should probably be more on the dry side than wet/moist. This is fine. If you keep it too moist and then let it dry out repeatedly it will form a thick, hard scab that may crack when you move or get ripped off easily. When you form a heavy scab the ink sits within it and slowly heals into the skin. When the tattoo is kept moisturized it doesn't have a chance to form a scab but does form a thin membrane to protect the tattoo while it heals. Under ideal circumstances it's very thin, almost like an onion skin. It usually begins to flake off by the fourth or fifth day. Very similar to a flaking sunburn (do not peel your tattoo, you will pull the ink out!) and it is perfectly normal to see small flakes of colored skin falling off during this stage of healing.
During the peeling stage of healing, it's common for the new skin beneath to look shiny and "milky" causing the tattoo to look lighter. This will adjust within the next week or two.
You must keep your tattoo clean, however, long showers or baths must be
avoided for at least 2 weeks, or until all scabbing or peeling is finished. Prolonged soaking can and will loosen scabs if any have formed, or will soak through the soft tissue turning it into a soggy mess and causing your ink to flow down the drain. This includes Swimming in the Ocean or a Pool, Hot Tubs, and Saunas. Short showers are best, under ten minutes if possible.
Please refrain from scratching or picking at the tattoo. This can cause damage. Scrubbing with a washcloth can be very harsh on a tattoo and will cause your colors to fade. Disrupting the tattoo while it's healing can also cause scar tissue. It is normal for the tattoo to become very itchy during the healing time. To relieve this, you can spray the tattoo with rubbing alcohol or slap it with your hand
(this will sting it and take away some of the itch).
No but's about it, the sun is BAD for your tattoo, even if you've had it for a loooooong time. A sunburn on a new tattoo can cause a lot of problems. It will dry out your tattoo and cause it to form a horrendous scab and much of the time causing the tattoo to fade before it is even healed. It will take much longer to heal completely. It can promote slight scarring and discoloration in a new tattoo.
Wait until it is fully healed to go back in the sun or a tanning bed and make sure you put on a high quality SUNBLOCK (not sunscreen). But, do not apply sunblock while the tattoo is healing! Keep it out of the sun. Once healed, the tattoo is under your skin, and your tan will form above it. Think of it like a tinted window that you have to look through to see the image. If your skin is very dark, some colors (white, yellow, pink, and orange) may not show up as brightly as they could. Over time, excessive exposure to sunlight will cause your tattoo to fade no matter what colors are used. Yes, even black.
Hands & Feet:
Remember that hands and feet reproduce skin cells much faster than other parts of the body. A tattoo in these areas will sometimes take an extra two weeks to heal. During this time refrain from washing dishes, wearing gloves, or wearing socks and shoes (sandal straps must not rub the tattoo). Any friction of this type WILL wear away the tattoo within a very short period of time. Especially while healing.
Tattoos in these areas are almost never guaranteed.
Individuals heal in so many different ways, it's hard to tell (especially for first-timers) exactly what will happen - whether the tattoo will scab or peel. A tattoo in one spot may heal completely different from a tattoo in another spot. The way an artist works the skin can also make a difference in the way a tattoo heals. There is no way to fortell exactly what every tattoo is going to do while healing or how to heal it.
Yes, it's probably better for a tattoo to peel, but sometimes people just don't heal this way. Sometimes a scab will form no matter what you do. For some, it's hard to tell whether or not a scab is forming. Sometimes a piece will look like it's scabbed over but will peel, other times it's obvious that a thick, hard scab has formed. If a scab does form you may have to do things a bit differently. You should always check with your artist before you change any of your aftercare procedure. Each artist has their own methods of aftercare. In most shops that guarantee their work, if you follow their directions and the tattoo heals badly, they are responsible for a touch up. If you deviate from their aftercare without seeking their advice and the tattoo heals badly, you forfeit that guarantee. (listen to YOUR ARTIST, not other artists or your friends... well, maybe other artists in an emergency situation.)
I guarantee all of my work. If you don't look good, I don't look good. :)
Each artist at Inkpulsive guarantees their own work and will touch up the tattoo within 3 months of the original date at no cost - unless it's obvious that you abused the tattoo.