Updated: Nov 24
So, you've gotten your beautiful new tattoo and your artist bandaged you up! Now what?
Most of our artists use an adhesive bandage called Second Skin. This is a breathable bandage that can be left on for 3-5 days. Once applied it will provide a barrier of protection for your fresh tattoo, as well as allow your skin to begin healing without the worry of drying out. You can go in the shower with it on, but avoid submerging it in water or vigorously scrubbing the bandaged area. Things to note about this bandage are:
Your tattoo will still be weeping some ink/blood/other fluid for the first day or so. This discharge can get stuck under the bandage and cause it to look blurry or even like there is a thick colored film over the entire area. This is ok! When the bandage is removed cleaned your tattoo should just like it did before the bandage.
You may shower with it but you do not want standing water in the bandage. If you notice after exposing it to running water that water has breached the bandages barriers and is inside of the bandage area, then remove the bandage and clean the tattoo ahead of schedule.
Sometimes the corners and sides start to peel up after a couple days. This also is normal. It is fine as long as it does not start to peel up over the tattoo itself and irritate the tattoo. If this happens then remove the bandage and clean the area.
After 3-5 days (or earlier if second skin needs to come off sooner) it is time to remove the bandage and wash the tattoo.
NOTE: in some instances we will not use Second Skin due to client request/skin sensitivities/etc. and an anterior bandage will be used. These bandages should come off the following morning after the tattoo session and the following aftercare and cleaning should begin then.
Before you begin, make sure your hands are clean and you have unscented antibacterial soap ready. Avoid soap with fragrance, moisture beads or scrubs of any kind. Remember, a fresh tattoo is a fresh wound, treat it as such.
Carefully remove the bandage. Second Skin comes off easiest in she shower with soapy water. Gently pull up a corner and slowly work the bandage off. If it is still very stuck on, this may take some time. Just be patient and keep applying more soap and water. Don't yank, just apply steady pressure and help it off with your clean hands.
Once removed you need to wash the area to remove and discharge from the tattoo.
Lather unscented antibacterial soap and lukewarm water in your hands. DO NOT USE washcloths, bath towels, loofahs or sponges on a fresh tattoo. DO NOT USE HOT WATER. Water that is too hot can open up your pores and cause ink to leach out.
Gently clean the tattoo using a circular motion until all ointment and plasma are removed.
Rinse the tattoo gently with lukewarm or cool water until the skin is clean.
Pat dry with a clean towel or paper towel then allow to fully air dry. We usually recommend a couple hours to a full day for skin and tattoo to completely dry. This will depend on your skin and your environment.
Once the tattoo is completely dry, apply a very small amount of water-based, unscented lotion. We aren't specific with brands but some recommendations are Eucerin, Aveno, Curel. If a specific lotion stinks or burns, rinse it off and try a different brand. Fresh tattoos can have sensitivities that your skin doesn't pick up on otherwise. Gently rub the ointment into your tattoo. Dab any excess off with a clean paper towel.
Clean your tattoo this way once a day in the shower for the first 2-3 days after removing bandage. No need to re-bandage the tattoo, please be mindful that your tattoo is a wound and when uncovered, is prone to dirt and bacteria which may cause infection. Try to avoid direct contact with any surface.
Here are some additional tips you can follow to help your healing process:
Fresh tattoos (wounds) scab due to the plasma that oozes out. Gently pat away wet plasma to keep it from forming big scabs that could dry out and crack. (the Second Skin bandage does a great job of keeping this plasma from drying out and turning into scabs)!
Drink plenty of water. A tattoo can only look as good as your hydrated beautiful skin!
Your new tattoo will probably leak blood and ink, and stain your sheets. It's suggested to use clean but older bed sheets that you don’t care about the first few nights after getting your tattoo. Emphasis on clean.
Avoid direct sunlight for at least two weeks. After that, we advise that you put sunscreen (minimum spf 50) on your tattoo if you plan to be in sunlight for the rest of your life. The sun will undoubtedly compromise the longevity of your tattoo and make increase fading over time. Note- certain color tattoos, especially those with lots of shades with white mixed in will do much better over time if kept out of direct sunlight for several months after the session. These pigments appear to be more susceptible to shifts in color due to UV exposure while in the first six months of settling into the skin. This is not an exact science as of now, but an observation from many years of tattooing, and something worth noting to clients getting certain color tattoos.
In order to maintain a healthy, remarkable-looking tattoo,
Scratch, pick, peel, or rub your tattoo
Let your tattooed skin dry out
Soak in a hot tub or go swimming
Wear tight clothing over your new tattoo, like bra straps or waistbands
Exercise the first few days
Expose your tattoo to the direct sun
SIGNS OF INFECTION
It can be tricky differentiating normal tattoo healing versus a reason you should seek medical attention. If you experience the following, seek medical attention and contact your tattoo artist.
Intense pain, fever, chills, sweats, worsening swelling, pus draining, firm bumps (granulomas), excessive bleeding, photosensitivity (sunlight is painful).
Some of these side effects occur mildly as part of the healing process or the trauma of a larger session. We take our clients health and safety very seriously so please contact us with any concerns immediately. Infections are rare, especially if aftercare is followed properly, but we always error on the side of caution.