First Three Days
Once you get home, remove the bandage on your fresh tattoo, which was put in place by your tattoo artist. The fresh tattoo should never again be bandaged, unless instructed by artist, as exposure to air is absolutely crucial for the healing process. Wash the tattooed area at least three times a day with clean warm water and antibacterial soap. It is best to allow the area to air dry, but if necesary, you can use a fresh paper towel to gently pat it dry. Do not rub the tattoo while washing or drying. After each cleaning, spread a thin layer of protective ointment (A&D or Bacitracin are recommended) over the tattoo and leave it exposed to the air.
First Two Weeks
Continue to wash the healing tattoo at least three times a day, but after the first three days, stop using protective ointment after each cleaning and instead use regular, unscented body lotion. Scented body lotions contain high amounts of alcohol, and will dry out the skin, causing the ink to fade in some areas. It is best to leave the tattoo exposed to the air at all times, but if you must wear clothing over the area, be sure to wear dark and loose clothing, so the area can continue to breathe and no ink will stain the fabric.
Healed Tattoo Aftercare
Once the tattoo is completely healed, a few further steps will ensure the colors remain as vibrant as the day you got them. Any time the tattooed area is exposed to direct sunlight for any prolonged period of time, spread sunblock, not sunscreen, over the area. Contrary to popular belief, tattoos actually lie just underneath the skin, not on top, so without enough sun protection, the sun will cause the top layer of skin to darken over the tattoo, making it appear faded.
What Not To Do
During the healing process, it is not uncommon for the skin to peel. When this happens, resist all urges and temptations to assist the peeling process. Allow the skin to peel naturally and at its own pace. The washings and protective ointments and lotions are meant to simulate the healing effects of a scab, so that your body will not develop one. Scabs cause you to lose ink and form inconsistent blotches in your tattoo. If a scab develops, do not peel it, and continue washing and spreading the proper ointments and lotions.
No beach, no pool, no overexposure to the sun while you’re healing!!!!