For your aftercare, there will be 2 methods that I use within the shop and can recommend; the first would be using a Saniderm bandage, and the second would be the "traditional" way of ointment and plastic wrap. Some people have sensitivity with saniderm and similar products, which in that case, be sure to follow the instructions for the other method and you’ll be just fine!
I would recommend to keep that initial bandage on for 48 hours. When the day comes to remove it, you can take it off as soon as you get up, or leave it on until right before bed, just as long as its within that timeframe. The reason why I suggest this amount of time, is because with ointment aftercare, you would only do it for the first 2-3 days, so with saniderm you basically skip that step (of washing/applying ointment). For the time you have your bandage on though it is waterproof, so there is no need to worry about showering and bathing/washing; just do as you normally would. I would try to avoid submerging it for long periods of time though just to be safe, and/or excessive workout/sweating so that it doesnt accumulate under the bandage. Once you remove your bandage, be sure to wash it clean with soap and water. Sometimes removing it in the shower is helpful since you will be washing it anyways, but either way you should be sure to wash it with soap and water initially. After the wash, let it air dry or pat it dry with a towel, and from that point forward only use lotion (lubriderm, cerave, etc) on the area if it feels dry. No aftercare products (aquaphor, tattoo goo, vaseline, A+D ointment, etc) with petroleum, as that can clog your pores and further healing time since the tattoo now needs to regenerate the new skin, flake off the old skin, etc.
As with any kind of aftercare protocol, the typical healing time can be anywhere from 2-4 weeks total. If you have a smaller or minimally invasive tattoo it might be a little shorter, and if you have a more intricate or involved tattoo (multiple line weights, color, shading, etc), it could be longer (to be fully healed). Some areas
can cause issues if its in a heavy movement area such as elbow, knee, ankle, wrist, etc; but more often than not, your 2-4 week window is about the most it would take.
With “traditional” aftercare:
- I will bandage the tattoo upon completion. You will leave that
bandage on anywhere from 1-4 hours after. You can take it off within
or before an hour, or keep it on longer than 4, but either way be sure
to wash it really well with soap and water when you remove the initial bandage.
You will need to get:
- antibacterial soap (simple is best).
you can technically use any kind of soaps, but I would avoid anything with scents, beads, alcohol, etc as all of those things could cause irritation to the tattooed area and possibly have a reaction depending on what chemicals or ingredients are inside the soap.
- tattoo ointment
there are many kinds of ointments out on the market, but to be safe I have always recommended aquaphor. it has less petroleum than other products and is a reputable and well established company. if you have something you have used or trust, feel free, but I would just avoid anything with a high petroleum content such as vaseline or A+D ointment.
- When washing, hand scrubbing is best! No rags, loofah or sponges.
On the initial wash, its recommended to wash it with as hot of a water as you can withstand. This will open your pores and help with blood and plasma excretion, and then rinse with as cold of water as you can withstand. This will close up your pores and help with sensitivity. After the initial wash, you dont need to repeat this process.
When washing though, you want to lather up the area just as usual, and apply slight
pressure just to get any dried blood off of the area that might have accrued. (Any washes after the first, just treat it as normal, no need to apply any extra pressure or care).
- when you are done bathing/showering or just washing that area in particular, you want to let it air dry, or pat it dry with a clean towel. Once it is dry, you want to apply a thin layer of whatever ointment you are using (aquaphor, BALM, tattoo goo, etc). I would suggest squeezing a small amount into your palm (if larger) or fingertip (if smaller) and evenly rubbing it over the entire tattoo. You just want it to shine, not to be able to see a thick layer over your tattoo.
Repeat these above steps (washing and ointment application) 2 or 3 times a day, for the next 2 or 3 days. At minimum I would say twice a day (morning and night) but 3 times would split that up, and then if you wanted to do it even 6 or 12 times that would be fine! It won’t hurt as long as you follow the entire process (don’t just reapply ointment over and over without washing for example). You can also do this over a sink and not need to actually shower each time of course. After a few days, you will notice your tattoo start to peel/flake like a sunburn and it will start to itch (for smaller pieces or linework only you might not see or notice this). This is NORMAL! At this stage your top layer of skin is regenerating, and this is where the lotion comes in. No need to wash and apply ointment after 2-3 days but just apply some lotion whenever it feels dry or itchy!
For either method of aftercare though, do not:
-submerge the tattoo itself in water (pool, hot tub, jacuzzi, ocean etc)
I would try to wait as long as possible for any swimming activities (at least a week).
Although I wouldn’t suggest it, if it does get wet its not the end of the world, just try
and keep it out of as much water as possible (if the tattoo is on your upper body, stay waist deep for example). Showering and cleaning do not apply to this, as this is just for outdoor water activities. A tattoo is basically an open wound so try to treat it as such. Oceans, lakes and pools aren't too clean usually!
-scratch or pick at your tattoo
When initially cleaning, rubbing it with some pressure is fine but be careful of nails or any other thing that might scratch while drying it. The area will become itchy as well, try patting the area with an open palm or lightly rubbing it (as opposed to scratching).
-go tanning or be in direct sunlight as much as possible
Until the tattoo heals it's best to avoid as much sun as possible. The sun will fade any
tattoo in general if you overexpose yourself, whether it's tanning or just being at the beach, so especially if it isn't fully healed you want to be careful about that! And once it's healed, it's recommended to apply the highest SPF sunscreen you can find to maintain the tattoo long term!
Per the health department:
"the client shall consult a health care practitioner at the first sign
of infection or an allergic reaction, and report any diagnosed
infection, allergic reaction, or adverse reaction resulting from the
tattoo to the artist and to the Texas Department of State Health
Services, Tattoo and Body Piercing Program at (512) 834-6711"
Please email at any time for any other questions or concerns!