Now that you have your new tattoo, you’ll want to take good care of it. Here is how…Your skin is not a piece of paper, it’s an organ designed to protect your insides and prevent them from spilling into a messy heap on the floor. Once your new tattoo is healed- It will not be as bright or vivid as they day you left the studio. Why? Because a new layer of skin as grown over the top- trapping your pigments underneath, so depending on how much and how little melanin (the chemical in your skin that produces the colour of your skin tone) you have, will determine how well you see the colours of your tattoo. Your skin also exfoliates, it ages over time, your skin stretches and shrinks and may actively reject ink. EVERYONE is different and the variables are great but, for the best result of the products we recommend follow the steps below.
Step 1: Leave the second skin (opsite) bandage on for 24 hours
IF IT LAST’S! It all depends on how much blood and plasma is underneath- If it falls off just start step 2 earlier. If the bandage is holding, Is NOT lifting anywhere, small amount of blood or plasma (too ozy its best to change it to avoid water rash) and is not dirty as well as you are having no allergy to be seen (redness where the adhesive is) You can leave the bandage on for 3-5 days. If it is not in perfect condition please follow the steps below…
Step 2: WITH CLEAN HANDS Remove the bandage ; Wash the tattoo under warm water (water must be sterile – so either cooled boiled water or saline) and ANTIBACTERIAL soft wash. You need to wash the wound THOROUGHLY- be sure to remove all blood and adhesive, you may need to wash the wound several times. Phisohex is Great for washing your new tattoo.
Remove the second skin (you may need to jump in the shower to remove the adhesive) and give the tattoo a thorough wash under warm sterile water (not hot or cold) you may need to wash the new tattoo more than once with an antibacterial soft wash (Dettol and Palmolive are also great brands!) let it air dry or Use paper towel to pat (not rub) the area until completely dry.
Step 3: Reapply a new bandage with gloves or CLEAN HANDS.
re-apply your replacement bandage. LEAVE IT ON FOR another 24 hours. (Don’t worry, The second skin is breathable) If you decide to continue with opsite after the initial 48 hours- you must use a thin layer of after care cream on your wound before replacing your next bandage. After 3-5 days your tattoo is well on the way to being healed and only needs minimal washes (daily shower is fine!) keep up with a thin layer of aftercare cream however. Keeping the skin moisturised will only help your tattoo. Forever!
Some commonly recommended ointments would be DR PICKLES TATTOO BALM– can be found in Woolworth’s & coles if you get stuck, on the go 🙂 Stay away from Vaseline and petroleum jelly as these clog the pores in the skin and limits the ability for the skin to breathe.
PLEASSE NOTE; You can source more Opsite bandages from Chemist warehouse and national pharmacies. Ask for either of these; OPSITE Flexigrid, Opsite flex fix, Cutifilm.
It IS normal for your tattoo to look bloody/ oozy- underneath your bandage. This is because it is an open wound. You may also find the plasma/ blood may leak underneath the bandage too. Wipe away any excess with paper towel. if the wound is very oozy or If the bandage lifts however- change it.
What to Avoid:
- Avoid letting the tattoo dry out, but always allow it to breathe.( loose clothes)
- Do not let your bandage slip off- if it does you need to take it off and wash it immediately.
- Avoid excess sweating whilst your bandage is on. This can cause infection. this includes the gym.
- Avoid scented soaps, shampoos, deodorant or other chemicals on the tattoo.
- Avoid submerging in a bath, pool or bath tub (for both fresh and salt water) for 2 weeks.
- Avoid picking or scratching the tattoo when it gets itchy, lightly pat the area if you must.
- Avoid roasting the tattoo in the sun, if the tattoo gets sun-burned it’s absolutely wrecked.
UV rays will fade and damage a brilliant tattoo very quickly, stay out of it. Apply sunscreen lotion every time you frolic in the sun AFTER the tattoo is healed.
Some people do have allergies to certain adhesives (band aids- tape- etc)and tattoo ink. Please contact the artist directly if you have any questions or experience any sign of excessive discomfort. Excess Pain and swelling that is GROWING is not normal, accompanied by fever or chills- We want our work to heal up best it can.– keep in mind colour and black work do heal differently and more care is needed with colour work
I have put together my recommendations for tattoo aftercare, however you should always follow the advice given by your personal tattoo artist as there is no “one way” of tattoo after care, you will find every artist may tell you different and new ways of looking after it during the healing period. If you have an after care plan of your own that works for you then stick with it by all means.
-After the tattoo process you should leave the bandage (glad wrap) on for no more than 1-2 hours (enough time to make it home) – PLEASE NOTE** if the artist has used an OPSITE bandage you can leave this on for the first 24 hours- opsite is breathable- glad wrap is not) you will notice a collection of bodily fluids i.e.; blood and plasma, this is normal and once you remove the bandage you will NEED to gently wash the tattoo.
-I personally recommend you wash the tattoo with an anti-bacterial hand soap, (there is a great range in any local supermarket Phisohex is a great ph balanced wash) to reduce your risk of infection. The aim is to wash all of the natural forming bodily fluids and rid the skin of any Vaseline or topical ointments that were used during the tattoo process. Colour pieces especially need a good wash so gently wash two to three times if needed or when the tattoo no longer feel “slimy”. Use luke-warm pre boiled or saline water as opposed to hot water, which would burn the tattoo. It is important to wash the tattoo lightly, but PLEASE be sure to remove all ointment, blood, and any other residue. This will ensure you have set up your fresh tattoo to the best start to the healing process 😀
-After washing the tattoo, apply an ointment. We recommend an stock (melbourne made) Mr Bees Tattoo Healer (local Adelaide makers) OMMADE ORGANICS GLENANDULA BALM a great product also,OZTATTSKINCARE (vegan)
Some commonly recommended ointments would be DR PICKLES TATTOO BALM– can be found in Woolworths & coles if you get stuck, on the go 🙂 Stay away from vaseline and petroleum jelly as these clog the pores in the skin and limits the ability for the skin to breathe. It is VERY IMPORTANT to only use a very tiny amount of ointment or very thin layer over the tattoo. A great way to judge the right amount is a slight shine to the skin, Using too much ointment can over saturate the tattoo and cause excess scabbing or scabs to come off prematurely. It is NOT “the more the better.”
-I recommend use of an ointment for around 3-7 days. During these days wash your tattoo every morning right when you wake, and right before bed with an anti-bacterial soap like Phisohex . After the 4th day however, swap the anti bacterial soap for a low irritant and soap free version (dermaveen, QV, & Sorbelene are great!. This is because an anti-bacterial solution will take away up to 99.9% of bacteria on the skin, even the good kind that is necessary for your body to promote natural healing. It is important to wash the tattoo several times throughout the day with a low irritant soap free wash (after the first 4 days). The more you wash your tattoo, the less chance of fibres, dirt and any nasties to settle on your healing tattoo for long periods of time this is especially so for people with animals, as allowing these things to settle in to your tattoo is the #1 culprit for irritation and infections. It also promotes quicker healing time.
If your tattoo is in a hard to reach area, have a friend assist you, just PLEASE make sure they wash their hands thoroughly before they do so. This also goes for anyone touching or bumping your tattoo… including YOU! If you do not keep your tattoo clean, you run the risk of both infection and excess scabbing which could result in poor healing. During these first few days, depending on where your tattoo is located the tattoo may be prone to swelling, using a bag of ice (not directly on the tattoo, but around the area is fine), elevating the tattooed area, and taking ibuprofen can help reduce the swelling.
-Around the 3-7th day, you should notice your tattoo will begin to peel. The peeling can be similar to that of a sunburn peeling, only the skin will come off in the colours of the tattoo, this is normal but your skin will become very itchy. Under no circumstances scratch or pick at your tattoo no matter how much you want to. Don’t. Your tattoo is still in a very delicate stage and any picking or scratching will pull the ink right from skin. It can also encourage the wound to reopen.
At this stage in the healing process you can switch from using the ointment to a non-scented, low irritant lotion Such as; Sorbelene, Aveena, or vitamin E cream. For the next 2 weeks, keep washing the tattoo by this stage your everyday shower will be enough, and regularly moisturising the skin will prevent cracking and bleeding. There may be a few scabs on your tattoo that take longer to come off then others, this can also be normal and some can take up to a few weeks to come off. If this happens just let the scabs fall off on their own and be mindful not to pull them off prematurely, as this could result in loss of ink. If however they are unusually tight or large you can massage the area gently with a lotion. The whole healing process takes anywhere from 2 – 4 weeks However, everyone has different healing times and things like smoking and illness as well as poor diet and low hydration will affect you body’s ability to recover quickly. Be kind to yourself, rest and eat well. Remember Tattoos are an open wound, you must treat it like one! Keep it clean guys! It is very important.
Things to avoid during the tattoo healing process:
– Sleeping will be a hurdle especially for the first few days when your new tattoo is still fresh. Try not to sleep on your tattoo, you may need to find a temporary solution while sleeping like sleeping in a way you’re not usually accustomed to. Also, allow the tattoo to breathe, by this I mean stay away from bedsheets and pillows as much as you can! Not only will the tattoo become stuck to your clothing and linens during the night if allowed to settle, it will leave a colourful imprint on your sheets, which will never EVER come out!! Should you wake up and your clothes are stuck to your tattoo, do not rip them off, this will result in ripping off scabs as well as letting fibres into your tattoo which will cause irritation and infection. Instead wet the area of clothing that is stuck to the tattoo with water and it should become unstuck.
-Avoid submerging the tattoo. Soaking in water could cause scabs to come off prematurely. Also avoid swimming due to possible bacteria and irritants in the water. So no salt water, lake, pool, or bath tub for 2 weeks! Showers are fine.
-Keep it out of direct sunlight. Your new tattoo will not like the sun anyway and will burn and create a fuss, but allowing it to be uncovered in the sun can cause huge problems and jeopardise your tattoo. Please remember your healing tattoo is extremely sensitive and delicate during the healing process treat it nicely! If you will be un avoidably in the sun for long periods of time a loose cotton or breathable shirt that covers your tattoo is the go.
-Avoid wearing tight clothing that will rub onto the tattoo, excessive rubbing can lead to infections and loss of ink. Ladies, this also includes the bra line. Try to wear loose fitting cotton clothing over the tattooed area so that it’s breathable, or if you’re not in public, go without! The first few days of healing the tattoo will tend to “ooze” in the colours of the tattoo that tend to stain fabric so please be aware of this, Dark colours and loose clothing!
Infection is not very common but It may happen here is a list of what to lookout for;
– How to tell if your tattoo is indeed infected? some key signs of tattoo infection are a red haze surrounding the tattoo after its already past a week or more of the healing process, which also could be accompanied by a white haze over sections of the tattoo, indentation of the tattoo, extreme scabbing which may turn green or yellowish, bad smell, and puss. Contacting your tattoo artist so they may confirm whether or not your tattoo is infected and ways to combat the infection is a good idea, although the best way to deal with an infection is by calling a physician, they will know the absolute best way to combat your infection and may prescribe you antibiotics. Most of the time it is from a small fibre or animal hair caught in the open wound… if you wash the area with anti-bacterial soap and allow it to dry out completely it usually removes the foreign object and allows the tattoo to heal again.
-The best ways to avoid infections are by keeping your tattoo clean and by making your artist aware of any sensitivities or allergies you may have before getting tattooed. For example I use latex gloves during the tattooing process, if you have an allergy to latex let me know ahead of time so they can switch to nitrile gloves. Also, many people have a sensitivity to certain tattoo inks, red ink is a common colour that people have a sensitivity to because of the nickel content in that particular colour. An easy way to tell if you have a nickel allergy is by wearing a piece of cheap costume jewellery, which is usually nickel coated, and will discolour your skin black or green. If this happens, I recommend re thinking any red based inks. this includes Orange, pinks, Purple, and some blues.
After your tattoo is healed
-In order to keep your tattoo looking good for as long as possible, it is important to keep your skin moisturised, This will also keep your colours nice and bright! when you’re going to have prolonged sun exposure, use sun block to help avoid fading. Touch ups are common practice, and many artist’s will offer them at heavily discounted rates within 6 months of your tattoo, however it is a great idea to revisit your artist in a few years for white highlights and other light colours that can become dull due to normal ink dissipation.