Loading... Please wait...
  • My Account
  • Order Status
  • Wish Lists
  • Gift Certificates

Our Newsletter

Available Gauge Sizes:

20 gauge 18 gauge
16 gauge 14 gauge
12 gauge 10 gauge
8 gauge 6 gauge
4 gauge 2 gauge
0 gauge 00 gauge
000 gauge 1/2 inch
9/16 inch 5/8 inch
3/4 inch 7/8 inch
1 inch 1 1/4 inch


Proper Tattoo Aftercare

Proper Tattoo Aftercare; Helping Your New Tattoo Heal & Insuring Its Longevity

Your new tattoo is a form of expressive body art which is designed to last for a lifetime. The most important thing to increase the chances of your tattoo retaining its intended look for as long as possible is proper tattoo aftercare. This article discusses both the initial and long term recommended aftercare products and procedures to maximize the look of your new tattoo for as long as possible.

With the seemingly endless supply of products and contradictory recommendations for tattoo aftercare available today, choosing the best solution for your tattoo aftercare can seem a daunting and even expensive task. Although considering the cost of tattoo nowadays even the most expensive of the tattoo aftercare products on the market are cheap insurance, we will provide some guidelines for making educated decisions on which types of aftercare products to use and which are little more than marketing hype and a waste of your money. Unlike many of the articles claiming to give tatoo aftercare advise, we are not trying to sell you a product and, as such, are not working from an agenda other than disseminating proper tattoo aftercare advise.

The Tattoo Healing Process; What to Expect

The healing process for your new tattoo will take about 45 days, although it will appear to be healed much sooner than this. As your tattoo heals, your body will slough off and replace the damaged skin cells with new ones and this complete process takes 45 days. You can expect some mild discomfort, similar to a sunburn, which will last anywhere from about 3 days to a week or 2 depending on factors such as your body and the location of your new tattoo. You can also expect, to varying degrees, a bit of: tenderness, bleeding, swelling, redness, color seepage, itching, peeling, and mild scabbing. With a proper regimine of tattoo aftercare, these symptoms can be greatly minimized or even eliminated in some circumstances. For more details about our recommended tattoo aftercare procedures and what to expect during the healing process, read on!

Initial Tattoo Aftercare; The First Few Weeks

The first thing you need to understand about your new tattoo is that it is actually considered to be a minor surgical procedure. Like any surgical procedure, the speed and degree of recovery is just as directly related to the quality of the aftercare as it is to the quality of the surgical procedure itself. The size and location of your new tattoo will have a direct bearing on the healing time, as will the depth of the needle your artist used during the tattoo. While these are not really in your control, the aftercare is up to you and can make a huge difference in how well, and how fast, your new tattoo heals.

When you get home (about 3 to 4 hours after getting your new tattoo) you should remove any bandage or other covering the artist placed over the fresh tattoo. At this time the area should be washed, very gently, with mild soap and warm water. Do not scrub hard or with anything other than the surface of your hand. After gently washing your fresh tattoo, you should use a soft towel to pat the area dry - again, no need to rub, just a gentle pat dry will do.

Once you have gently washed any dried blood and surface ink from your new tattoo the next thing you will want to do is to apply a thin layer of triple antibiotic ointment containing Bacitracin. If possible, it is best to keep the tattoo uncovered by clothing as much as you can to minimize the Bacitracin ointment from being wiped off. The Bacitracin antibiotic ointment serves several purposes. First, it is intended to reduce any bacteria which may be on your new tattoo and to prevent infection while the wound is fresh. Second, and arguably even more important, the ointment is meant to act as a moisturizing agent to keep the damaged skin soft, moist, and supple. It is a proven medical fact that wounds to the skin heal much faster in a moist environment and the Bacitracin ointment not only helps to moisturize the skin, but acts as a barrier to keep the skins natural moisture in and will greatly reduce healing time.

Additional Bacitracin ointment should be applied 3 to 4 times per day and immediately before going to bed. Further bandaging is neither necessary nor recommended.

For the first 4 days your tattoo aftercare regimine should remain basically the same. You will want to apply a thin layer of Bacitracin antibiotic ointment to the area upon waking  up, before going to bed, and about 3 or 4 times inbetween to help protect and moisturize the skin area of your new tattoo. An ideal application of Bacitracin ointment will be just enough to make the skin moist and shiny and should extend about half an inch (13mm) beyond the outer perimiter of your tattoo. You will also want to keep the skin clean by washing once or twice a day - no more. Again, as much as possible, it is best to keep the area exposed and uncovered by either bandages or clothing if at all possible.

An inevitable part of the healing process with your new tatoo involves some itching, peeling, and possibly some light scabbing. It is extremely important to resist the urge to scratch your tattoo or pick at any peeling skin or scabs which develop. If the itch gets to be too much to bear, a good alternative to scratching which works very well is simply to lightly slap the area. The slapping will almost always releive the itching sensation and is much less risky than scratching which can damage the tender healing skin. As you new tattoo begins to slough off dead skin (peal) the best thing to do is to remove this loose dead skin by gently washing the area with soap and water in the shower. Again, srctching and picking is a bad idea and should be avoided. If scabs develop, it is best to simply let them heal and fall off naturally. Picking at scabs, even very small ones, can remove the ink from the skin and lead to scarring.

Cleanliness is an important part of your tattoo aftercare, but there is a right way and a wrong way to go about washing it. During the first 4 to 5 days you should wash your tattoo gently with warm water and whatever soap you normally use. After washing, pat the area dry with a clean dry cloth. It is important during these first few days to avoid soaking your tattoo in water and baths should be avoided. A shower is fine, but imersion in water should be avoided completely for the first 4 to 5 days. In addition to not immersing your new tattoo in the bath, swimming and hot tubs should also be avoided. In fact, although bathing will be OK after the first 4 or 5 days, swimming and hot tubs should be avoided for at least the first 45 days.

Beginning on day 5 or 6 bathing in warm water will be fine. This is also the time that the daily tattoo aftercare procedure changes a little bit. Instead of using the Bacatracin ointment as the primary aftercare product, you should now move to a high quality unscented deep moisturizing hand lotion. There are numerous products on the market which fit the bill nicely here. A few that we have used with excellent results include:  H2Ocean, St. Ives Intensive Healing Body Moisturizer, and Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Creme. A quailty deep moisturizing hand lotion, such as these or other similar products, should be applied as needed throughout the day to keep the skin in the area of your new tattoo moist and supple. Usually about 4 or 5 times per day. Before going to bed, a thin layer of Bacatracin ointment should be applied to keep your tattoo moistened overnight.

If the skin feel s dry and tight, you may need to wait an extra day or two before changing from the Bacatracin ointment to lotion as the primary tattoo aftercare product. We have also found it to be beneficial, particularly with larger tattoos, to apply a high quality hand creme and then after it is absorbed to put a thin layer of Bacatracin ointment over it. Using your own judgment here will help guide you on what will work best for you. The goal is to keep the skin soft and moist; if it feels too dry with lotion, use Bacatracin for a bit longer. Please keep in mind that although your new tattoo will feel healed in a week or so with proper tattoo aftercare, you should continue to apply moisturizing lotion for a minimum of 45 days as this is the time required for your skin to completely heal. The better the tatoo aftercare in the first 45 days, the better your chances of keeping that new tattoo looking great for many years.

Longterm Tattoo Aftercare; Protecting Your Tattoo for Years to Come 

Any tattoo will fade to some degree with age, this is an unavoidable consequence but one that can be kept to a minimum with longterm aftercare and a few simple precautions. The number one enemy of your tattoo's longevity is UV radiation from direct and prolonged exposure to the sun or tanning beds. Exposure to UV rays should be avoided completely  (as much as is reasonably possible) during the first 45 days. After this time it is recommended to use a UV blocking sunscreen on your tattoo to avoid excessive and premature fading. A proper sunscreen to protect your tattoo should have a SPF rating of 30 or greater with SPF 40 being the most recommended. You should also avoid getting into a swimming pool or hot tub for the first 60 days, although swimming and hot tub soaking will be perfectly fine after this time.

With any tattoo, some fading of the colors is inevitable and some colors tend to fade faster and more dramatically than others. The colors red, yellow, and light blue will usually need a second or even third application after periods of about 2 weeks.

Tattoo Aftercare Products: Sorting the Facts From the Sales Hype

As the popularity of tattoos and other body modifications climb, so does the seemingly endless supply of aftercare products on the market. Tattoo aftercare products come in every form imaginable from salves and cremes to sprays and foams which claim to do all sorts of things, some of which (if they worked) would be nothing short of miraculous. So, given the wide range of choices, how does a person know what tattoo aftercare products to buy?

As with any product, a bit of common sense and general knowledge of what the product can reasonably be expected to do are your best resources for choosing a tattoo aftercare product that will actually be worth the money. Tattoo aftercare products are intended to help the body go through its natural healing process as smoothly and quickly as possible. Your skin is actually quite amazing and its resiliency allows it to heal very well from most minor to medium level damage such as cuts, abrasions, minor burns, and tattoos. As previously stated, it is a proven medical fact that the skin heals best when kept in a moist environment. Because of this, a good tattoo aftercare product should provide deep moisturizing to keep the skin soft and supple during the healing process. If they make miraculous claims beyond moisturizing properties, you can be almost certain it is little more than marketing hype to sell a product.

In general, lotion type tattoo aftercare products seem to be the most effective with the majority of sprays and foams being useless or even detrimental to the healing process. Also look out for products which do not list the ingredients on the package; if they are not willing to tell you what is in the stuff, chances are it is because it is either useless or perhaps even worse! Although we neither sell nor are affiliated with H2Ocean, it is the only tattoo specific aftercare product we would recommend and many hand cremes available at your local department store are actually just as good. Stay away from anything with fragrances added though as these ingredients can cause irritation and decrease the product's moisturizing ability.


This page copyright ©2008 by Montana Body Art, Inc.
It may not be reproduced or distributed in whole or in part without the express written permission of the author.
If you would like to link to this page from your Web site or Blog, please feel free to do so.
All we ask is that you link diectly to it rather than copying the text of the article to your own page.