Getting your brand new tattoo done is a fantastic experience, one that you will remember (duh) for your entire life. Tattoos are beautiful works of art, especially if they’re treated with proper care after inking. That’s why the tattoo aftercare process is one of the key factors if you want to keep your tattoo beautiful looking and long lasting.
Why is Tattoo Aftercare Important?
Shortly after getting your ink done, that specific skin area is basically one big, raw wound, vulnerable to all sorts of bacteria and other harmful agents. This can cause a lot of trouble, especially if the wound is not treated correctly. Apart from skin health issues, lousy aftercare treatment can also damage your ink and ruin your tattoo, so it’s important to pay special attention to this (simple!) process.
Proper aftercare treatment will make sure that your skin remains infection free, allowing it to heal quickly and effectively. It will make sure your ink stays sharp, crisp and colourful – resulting in an awesome tattoo!
There are three stages of aftercare that your skin needs to go through, and they’re separated by weeks. In this article, we will cover, in-depth, these three stages of tattoo aftercare, while giving you useful tips to take proper care of your new & amazing tattoo.
This is the first and most important stage of all when it comes to the overall tattoo aftercare treatment. During this stage, your skin will go through a rough period of inflammation, so you have to make sure it’s treated properly.
The healing process begins as soon as you get out of the chair. Your skin is a raw wound due to all the piercing that’s been done. At this point, your artist will clean-up the wound and apply safety wrap/bandage to protect your skin from external sources until you arrive home. You may remove the bandage a couple of hours later, or tomorrow – depending on what your artist tells you.
After you remove the bandage, you will notice your skin oozing with all kinds of fluid – blood, plasma, ink. This is just your body trying to repair the damage and it’s completely natural and normal, so don’t worry about it. Your goal is to wash the excess fluid away and let the skin repair itself. Clean up your hands and use only them in this process. The best way to wash your raw wound is to use warm (not hot!) water and fragrance-free soap, using gentle circular movements to clean up your wound.
Be tender during this process, do not use any rough towels or anything that may damage your skin. It’s best if you use only your hands and some light, sensitive paper towel to clean the wound. After this, you should keep washing your wound twice a day for about a month, applying aftercare lotion to moisturize and nourish the area. Always use warm water and natural soap, apply the lotion and use a clean paper towel or hair dryer on “cool” settings to clean up once you’re done.
During the first week, your tattoo is going to be very sore, especially if it’s a large piece. The area will warm for a couple of days, and it’ll also be red in colour, pointing at the ongoing inflammation. You can also expect some swelling and bruising during this time as well. If these conditions get extreme, contact your artist or local doctor for assistance.
Towards the end of week one, you will notice the formation of scabbing around the area. Do not pick of any scabs that have formed as it will delay healing and possibly cause ink damage as well. It may be difficult to fall asleep because of this, but it will all be over after a few days. Just keep rinsing twice a day and applying the lotion, and it should keep your troubles minimal.
Try to avoid using tight-fitting clothes and wear something more comfortable, preferably lighter, cotton-based clothes over your tattoo to avoid any unnecessary damage.
Stage two begins just shortly after scabs start forming on your skin. A lot of people consider this stage to be the worst of them, due to skin itching and peeling. During this stage, your scabs will start to harden, and soon enough they will begin to flake off of your skin, causing uncomfortable itching feelings.
This process lasts for about a week – your skin is going to become very dry and flaky. Dead skin causes flaking, which causes itching, and that’s often the hardest part about the whole process. It will be very tempting to peel the scabs off but you have to abstain from your urges, let them fall off naturally when they’re ready to do so. Additionally, you will have to resist the urge to scratch your skin, as it can cause damage to your ink, and nobody wants that to happen. Messing with flaking pieces of skin can cause ink damage which leads to fading and patchiness, so try to avoid it at all costs.
The secret in dealing with all the itching is to keep your skin moisturized at all times. Don’t allow your skin to dry up and you will have less trouble with it. Keep washing your new tattoo and applying lotion, and it will heal up in a few days.
Your tattoo may appear very ugly during this stage, like a snake shedding its old skin – don’t worry about it and just let the process happen naturally as it’s supposed to.
You’re almost there, hang tight!
At this point, you’re into the third week of the aftercare process, and things should be getting a lot easier. Most of your scabs and flaky skin will have dropped off, although some may remain. The area may still be slightly sore, dry and sensitive, so keep moisturizing the skin whenever it feels too dry. The last stage lasts about two weeks, which is a total of one month of full, “active” healing process.
Your tattoo may appear somewhat dull and cloudy, and it may seem like your ink is fading, but don’t worry, it’s all natural and completely normal. After one month, most of your surface skin will be fully repaired, however, deeper layers may take 3-4 months to fully recover, and when they do – your tattoo will look fresh and brand new. As time goes by, the clarity of your tattoo will begin to show more and more.
This stage is perfect to look for patchy spots, fading or tattoo blowouts that may have happened during the procedure. If you notice any of these things, contact your artist for an additional touch-up, if necessary.
Just as you have to take proper care of your new tattoo, you also have to avoid some bad practices that may cause damage to it, so you should be aware of them.
Avoid Doing These Things
Here’s a list of things you should avoid doing while your tattoo is still in the healing process:
- Picking the Scabs
- Picking off Peeling Skin
- Tattoo Scratching
- Swimming / Submerging in Water
- Sun-Exposure – a big “no-no” for new tattoos
- Un-authorized re-wrapping
- Using Too Much Lotion
- Fragrance/Alcohol-based Soaps
- Dirty Clothes/Towels
- Tight Clothing
- Heavy Workout / Excessive Sweating
- Hot Water
- Dirty Hands – Yours or Strangers’
- Shaving the Area
We won’t go too deep into details regarding these harmful practices, but you should know that all of them can cause certain damage and issues for your new tattoo. It’s just a simple list of things to avoid, and it shouldn’t be too hard to pull off.
Following these aftercare tips and avoiding bad practices will make sure your new tattoo stays beautiful and awesome for the rest of your life – so follow them and enjoy it! Looking for a tattoo? Hon Tatoo offers many types of tattoos including Asian-styled and we are located in North York and Markham Toronto.