The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Your Tattoo
Getting a new tattoo is a BIG deal and so is taking care of it. Whether you spent tons of time carefully deciding what to get or took a spontaneous leap of inked faith, we’re willing to bet you want to keep your new ink looking as good as possible for as long as possible. And it's not just about looks — it’s also important to make sure you avoid infection as a result of the bodily addition, because, in reality, it's a wound to your skin. So for both aesthetic and health reasons, it’s important you know what exactly to do once you leave the parlor.
Advice for Keeping that Tattoo Looking Like New
When you leave the tattoo shop, your ink will look like a million bucks. It will be bright and bold. That’s not going to last. Improper skin care, sun damage, and time can age or even diminish a tattoo, so how can you make sure that new tattoo is something you don’t end up regretting? Here are some steps to consider following while your new tattoo heals.
Listen to Your Tattoo Artist’s Advice
Aftercare advice will vary from studio to studio, and sometimes even artists in the same studio will have different ideas of what heals best. Listen to the instructions your artist gives you – most will have a leaflet with their advice printed out for you to take away.
Carefully Take off the Bandage and Clean Your Tattoo
Cleaning your tattoo in those first few days after you get it is important. Before you start, make sure your hands are clean and you have the recommended soap and balm at the ready.
- Carefully remove the bandage and tape. If you feel the bandage sticking to the tattoo, wet it with lukewarm water and gently slide it off.
- Make a lather in your hands with soap made for sensitive skin and warm water. NO washcloths, bath towels, or sponges on a fresh tattoo.
- Gently clean the tattoo using a circular motion until all ointment and plasma are removed.
- Rinse the tattoo gently until the skin is clean.
- Pat dry with a clean towel or paper towel then allow to fully air dry for a minimum of 10 minutes. DO NOT SCRUB.
- Once the tattoo is dry, apply a very small amount of balm created specifically for new tattoos. Gently rub the ointment into your tattoo. Dab any excess off with a clean paper towel.
Clean your tattoo this way once a day in the shower for the first 2-3 days.
Keep Your Skin Moist
It’s super important to keep a fresh tattoo good and moisturized right from the start. One of the biggest mistakes you can make after getting a tattoo is to let it dry up. To keep that from happening, apply a balm created specifically for tattoos every two hours for the first three days, and three or four times a day from the fourth to the 14th day, and before you go to sleep.
Avoid Sitting Water and Sweat
Water can also lead to infection in a new tattoo, so avoid fully submerging it in water (i.e. swimming or sitting in a bath) until it is fully healed. You don’t have to wait quite that long before you shower with a new tattoo, but you should wrap it with a clean wrap or a waterproof band when you do and keep water completely out for the first seven days. Sweat can also be an irritant, so be careful if choosing to workout.
Protect Your Ink with Ample SPF
The sun can also wreak havoc on a fresh tattoo. So once healed, try to keep your new tattoo out of the sun for at least the first 6 weeks. If covering it up isn't possible, make sure to at least apply ample sunscreen. Because your tattoo is really a fresh wound, your skin is so much more vulnerable to damage at this point. If you end up getting a blistering sunburn, it can cause fading, not to mention pain.
Be Patient With the Healing Process
Healing times depend on how well you heal and the size of the design. This can range anywhere from around a week for simple, small line designs, to several months for complex, larger designs. Keep following your aftercare instructions for as long as the artist told you to, and make sure the tattoo is kept well-moisturized and clean for a good few months after that, avoiding abrasive skin products.
You should expect your new tattoo to be red, irritated, swollen, and possibly bruised. These are normal reactions to the tattoo area. Usually, you can anticipate 1 to 3 days for red or irritated skin to subside. If swelling or bruising occurs, this could last for up to a week, especially if tattooed in a sensitive area such as the feet.
Important Tattoo Dos and Don’ts During the Healing Process
- Clean towels, bedding and clothes are highly recommended during the healing process.
- Showering is fine, however, please DO NOT soak your tattoo for at least 2 weeks. This means no swimming, baths or submerging your tattoo in water for long periods of time.
- Avoid direct sunlight on your tattoo for at least 2 weeks and your tattoo is completely healed. After that, we advise putting on a sunblock (minimum SPF 50) on your tattoo whenever you find yourself in direct sunlight for the rest of your life. The sun will undoubtedly cause damage and compromise the longevity of your tattoo.
- Wear loose clothing (preferably cotton) and avoid constricting accessories like bra straps and tight waistbands over a fresh tattoo. Avoid dirty, sweaty or itchy clothing as they can create healing problems.
Is That Commercial Soap Really Antibacterial?
When you buy soaps and body washes, you hope that products labeled “antibacterial” are better for you and will keep your tattoo cleaner safely. Most of us think those products will lower your risk of getting sick, spreading germs, or keep our new tattoo from being infected. Unfortunately, this is a BIG misconception.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there isn’t enough science to show that over-the-counter (OTC) antibacterial soaps are better at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water. To date, the benefits of using antibacterial hand soap haven’t been proven.
We Had a Year of Research and Development
In addition, the wide use of these products over a long time has raised the question of potential negative effects on your health. Why? The ingredients most commercial soaps use are artificial chemicals developed in a lab.
This is why Groove Soaps spent a full year consulting directly with tattoo artists and the FDA to be sure we were developing a tattoo soap kit that displayed antibacterial properties thanks to the plant-based ingredients used.
Plant-Based Ingredients That are Naturally Antibacterial
We chose plants, such as ginger and tea tree, specifically for their natural antibacterial properties. So while these soaps are unscented, because no artificial scents are added, they do emit a wonderful, fresh and clean smell due to their plant-based ingredients.
Keeping Your Tattoo Looking Great
In the event some fading does occur, you can get a touch-up down the road. To make sure the artwork is consistent, go to the same tattoo artist who originally did the work. It's also key to wait at least one month after the original work was done to give the skin a chance to heal.
Whether you are looking to quickly heal and protect a brand new tattoo or you are looking to revitalize an existing tattoo, the Groove Soaps Tattoo Soap Bundle is the perfect trio. Having a dedicated liquid soap, soap slab, and tattoo balm made with all natural ingredients will help make taking care of your tattoo a breeze.