It is always important to remember that before your new tattoo begins peeling and scabbing it is essentially an open wound and needs to be treated as such. Make sure to give your tattoo the time and attention it requires to heal properly. Charleston is a uniquely humid climate, leading to slightly different aftercare recommendations. What we suggest is a follows:
Day of Tattoo
After the tattooing process your fresh piece will be bandaged, remove the bandage after 1-3 hours or whenever you get home. Do not remove the bandage until you can properly clean the tattoo with mild antibacterial soap and warm water. Rinse it well with water, massage off the slimy coating that may have formed underneath the bandage. Gently pat dry with a clean towel. The tattoo should not be re-bandaged unless you are instructed to do otherwise by your artist. Fragrance free antibacterial soap is recommended for washing the tattooed area.
Day One and Two
For the first day or two, your tattoo may require more cleaning as the traumatized skin will still be seeping a small amount of fluid (plasma, blood, ink). Your skin needs to breathe and preventing it from doing so can result in a longer healing period and/or excess scabbing. To ensure that excess moisture is not trapped under the surface, blot and air-dry after each washing. We recommend washing the tattoo 3-5 times a day during this stage. There is no need to put lotion or aftercare cream to it at this point as it is still an open wound.
During the first two nights it is best to keep the tattoo uncovered, not under any clothing or sheets. We recommend changing your sheets to ones that you do not care about as some ink/plasma may get on them, no need to mess up the egyptian cotton or silk sheets. Pigment loss can happen if the tattooed skin becomes stuck to fabric in this early stage. If it does happen remove very gently. Do not freak out too much if this happens we do offer free touch ups within three months of getting the tattoo.
During the healing period your new tattoo should never stay submerged in water. Limit yourself to taking short showers until the tattoo has finished peeling and do not take any baths. It is also important to keep your tattoo protected from the sun and dirty environments, as it is still an open wound at this time. Do not go swimming as it will negatively affect the healing of your tattoo and potentially lead to an infection. All activities involving water submersion or sun exposure can usually be resumed in three to four weeks. The longer you protect the tattoo from sun exposure the better. If you must expose your tattoo to sunlight, be sure to use sun block of at least 30 SPF.
The tattoo will begin to flake and scab only apply ointment/product for as long as it takes for your tattoo to peel, which is usually 3-10 days. When the peeling begins, the tattooed skin will flake like a sunburn. When the tattoo has fully entered the heavy peeling phase the area will become dry and itchy, but it is very important NOT TO PICK OR SCRATCH AT YOUR TATTOO. A high quality, fragrance-free lotion or tattoo aftercare cream can be used during this stage until the skin returns to its normal texture. Non scented lotion works fine but you can also get tattoo specific aftercare cream here. Only apply these products in very light layers, do not cake it on as it can lead to trapping bacteria and ingrown hairs. You do not have to apply anything to your tattoo at this point, these products just usually help with the itchiness. Everyone’s skin is different and heals at different rates. Proper nutrition (fresh fruits, vegetables, etc.) and plenty of sleep each night will aid in your body’s ability to heal itself. Staying hydrated during and after a tattoo session is also important. It is normal for the line work in your new tattoo to be raised for the first month following your tattoo session. In most cases the skin will go back down to its normal smoothness 1 – 2 months after.