So you just got a new tattoo. Your artist put some kind of ointment on it, wrapped it up in a bandage, and sent you on your way…but now what? How do you care for this new piece of art? You’ll learn everything you need to know about aftercare in this post!


Tattoo by Mike (located in Modesto)

Stage One

The most common way that the pain of a fresh tattoo is described is as really bad sunburn. The area is swollen, warm to the touch, and red. These things are all normal, and happen to everyone. This usually lasts for the first few days.

Your artist should have sent you home with a protective covering over your fresh tattoo. Usually it’s advised that you keep it on for 4-6 hours, but make sure to check with your artist before you leave the shop. Once you remove the covering, your tattoo will probably be oozing with a weird mix of blood, plasma, and ink.

Now that the covering is off, it’s time to wash your new tattoo. The plasma (clear goopy liquid) is what helps your skin scab up, so the best way to keep this from happening is to wash your tattoo several times a day. Follow these simple steps to keep it clean and healthy –

    • Rinse the area thoroughly with warm water
    • Pat dry with a clean disposable towel
    • Repeat 3-4 times a day

After you wash your tattoo, make sure to apply a thin layer of ointment, like H2Ocean Tattoo Ointment or A&D, to keep it from drying out.


Stage Two

The second stage is the one most people dread; the itching. At this point in the life of your new tattoo, the scabs have formed and it has started to flake. This usually lasts around a week, it depends on the person since everyone heals differently. If you washed your tattoo several times a day during the first stage, the scabbing should be minimal. What causes the flaking is your skin healing itself, and the best way to keep it from itching is to keep your tattoo moisturized! Here’s what you should do during the second stage of healing –

    • With clean hands, use your fingertips to gently wash the tattoo
    • Rinse the area thoroughly with warm water
    • Pat dry with a clean disposable towel
    • After you’ve ensured the area is completely dry, apply a scent free lotion, such as H2Ocean Moisturizing Cream
    • Repeat 3-4 times a day

Be sure that the area is completely dry before you apply any lotion to the area. If it isn’t, the water trapped between the lotion and the skin can soak up into the scab, causing them to become goopy again. If this happens, the scabs are more susceptible to being pulled off. Also be sure to only apply a small amount of lotion and rub it in until it’s entirely absorbed into the skin. If you use or apply too much lotion, it can suffocate the tattoo, and it needs to breathe during the healing stages.

Keep these few tips in mind to help you get through stage two –

  • DO NOT SCRATCH! If your tattoo is itchy and you absolutely have to, it’s advised to slap or hit it instead
  • Do not pick at any scabs! Lotion it to keep it moisturized
  • Shedding of the skin is completely normal

Stage Three

Here we are, in the final stage of the tattoo healing process!! You’re in the homestretch and you can see light at the end of the tunnel! Your tattoo might have some flaky skin left, but it might still be dry and sensitive to the touch. This is all normal! There’s one last thing to do during the ending stage –

    • With clean hands, apply a thin layer of lotion to your tattoo
    • Repeat 3-4 times a day

That’s it! Simple isn’t it? Your tattoo can still look cloudy and dull, which is caused by a layer of dead skin that has still yet to peel away. This will happen naturally over the next coming weeks. As long as you’ve properly taken care of your new work of art during it’s first stages of life, it’ll be as vibrant and breathtaking as the day you got

It may seem like the healing process can be a lot to take in, but it’s pretty simple, and remember, it only lasts 2-3 weeks! At the end of it all, you’ll have a one of a kind piece that you can proudly wear on your skin.

Tattoo by Drain (Modesto)

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