Before Your Appointment
Preparing the area you will be tattooed before your appointment can help with the application of the tattoo and also the end result based on the condition of your skin.
Daily moisturising in the week leading up to your tattoo, especially if you are prone to dry skin will help improve the condition of your skin. Gentle exfoliation can also help remove dead skin cells from the upper layer and promote regeneration for skin.
The day or night before - use an electric shaver or razor to remove hair around the area being tattooed. If you're unfamiliar with close shaving with a razor, avoid doing so and just clip it if possible to avoid irritation or razor burn.
On The Day
Make sure you've eaten a good meal before your appointment and that you are well hydrated. Bring a drink and if it's a longer appointment, a high energy snack or lunch is a good idea.
Wear clothing that's comfortable and appropriate for the area that's being tattooed if possible. It should be loose or open enough to allow movement and access to the area being tattooed without getting in the way or needing to be held. If you're unsure what's best to wear just ask!
Every tattooer will give you their own variation of aftercare instructions, this can often be what works best for their individual way of tattooing or it could be studio policy/personal preference - ask questions at your appointment if you're unsure about the process or why it might differ from how you've taken care of other tattoos.
This is a rough guide that can be applied for any of my clients however we may discuss individual recommendations based on your skin, the tattoo, the area of the body that's being tattooed or other factors specific to you.
IF we are using a 'second skin' type of aftercare product I will discuss the aftercare with you separately and the following instructions will not apply.
Your new tattoo may be wrapped or covered in plastic or a film dressing. Keep this on for at least an hour after you leave the studio (up to several hours is fine) to contain any weeping/fluid from the tattoo, then remove it after this time to wash it.
Gently wash your tattoo with warm, soapy water thoroughly to remove any ink, blood or fluid from the surface of the skin and pat your tattoo dry with a clean towel (or a paper towel and dispose of immediately afterwards). Allow 10 minutes for it to remain dry before applying any aftercare products, and do so very sparingly - 'less is more'.
I recommend using a tattoo specific aftercare product such as Hustle Butter aftercare or Dr Pickles Tattoo Balm, but you can also use the classic Bepanthen First Aid (NOT the nappy rash barrier cream) or paw paw ointment. Be mindful with thick or oily products that you do not smother or coat your tattoo in it, apply a thin amount and spread it as far as possible. If you ask a friend for help applying aftercare ensure they wash their hands before doing so.
Wash your tattoo, dry it and apply aftercare twice a day (morning and night) for the first 7 days of healing. After 4-5 days your tattoo will begin to shed and flake away over several more days, be careful not to knock off any scabs prematurely. You can reduce the frequency of using aftercare once it's flaking away or switch to a moisturizer after 7 days.
The tattoo should be healed by 10-14 days at most, keep in mind that the number of days is a rough guide and individual to each client and how their body heals as well as where the tattoo is on the body or other factors.
Avoid swimming and keep the tattoo clean during the healing process - a fresh tattoo is an open wound and susceptible to infection. Keep showers short and do not soak the tattoo in water for prolonged periods (such as bathing) to avoid wound breakdown or premature loosening of scabs. You can return to swimming once the tattoo is fully healed and there are no scabs over it.
This is a rough guide only, it is not medical advice and you may need further instructions. If you suspect you may have an infection you need to seek professional medical advice immediately.
Please discuss the aftercare of your tattoo at your appointment with me :)
Long Term Care
The biggest problem for the longevity and integrity of your tattoo (and particularly coloured or white ink pigments) is UV/sun damage. It's recommended that you use sunscreen to protect your tattoo (and skin!) and avoid getting burnt.
If your skin is dry and your healed or old tattoo appears dull, you can improve the appearance of it by gently exfoliating the skin and moisturizing it - don't waste money on products that claim to brighten old tattoos.