The simplest, easiest, best way to care for your new tattoo is to follow the aftercare instructions provided by your tattooist. If you didn’t receive a care sheet, or are dubious about the instructions, you’re welcome to follow our tried-and-true tattoo protection plan: It’s approved by the state of Minnesota, and has been working for us for years.
A quick note on what NOT to use: Don’t use products like Neosporin or first aid creams. These products are designed to minimize scarring, and can interfere with the inks healing properly. They’re loaded full of chemicals, and we are not fans of dumping lots of weird chemicals on our large open wounds.
1. Leave the bandage at least 2 hours(overnight if it’s an evening tattoo.) Do not remove the bandage to show your friends, as this is an important step to start the healing process and helps prevent infection when your skin is at its most vulnerable.
2. Wash your hands thoroughly. ONLY ever touch your fresh tattoo with CLEAN hands. Remove the bandage and wash the tattoo with a mild unscented liquid soap and warm water(we like Provon.) Gently pat the tattoo dry with a paper towel or let air dry.
3. Apply a small amount of Aquaphor (found in most convenience stores). Rub it in briefly and then pat off any excess. Just enough should be used so that the skin is soft, not shiny. Do this 2-3 times a day for the first 2-3 days. Aquaphor can clog pores, so we don’t recommend their use past a few days.
4. After 2-3 days the Tattoo will start to itch. Once it starts to itch, it’s time to switch…to a non-scented white lotion! (We like Eucerin or Aveeno.) A dry flaky layer of skin will form on the tattoo. Let the skin slough off naturally. Small flecks of color will come off during this process: this is normal, it’s not the ink coming out of your tattoo. Do not pick or scratch at the tattoo. Doing so could seriously affect the look of your tattoo when healed and could create scarring. Apply Lotion as needed(when your tattoo feels itchy, dry, or tight) for the next 2-3 weeks.
5. Avoid direct sunlight on the tattoo until it has healed completely. It hurts(!) and may damage your tattoo as it heals. Whenever in the sun your tattoo must be covered by your clothing. You CANNOT use chemical sunscreen until your tattoo is healed. After your tattoo has healed, be aware of the sun’s effects on it. Excessive exposure to the sun will fade and damage a tattoos appearance. The American Association of Dermatology recommends that a broad spectrum waterproof sunblock with an SPF of at least 30 applied every 2 hours.
6. No hot tubs, saunas, pools, or lakes until the tattoo is completely healed. It is necessary to shower and clean the tattoo regularly, but it should NOT be soaked in water for long periods of time. Doing soon can prematurely remove a scab and negatively affect the look of your healed tattoo.
7. Failure to follow the care directions properly can extend the healing time, cause infection, or prevent your tattoo from looking its best. Infection is rare, but to reduce your risk: wear loose and clean clothing, change your sheets regularly(particularly if you have pets,) only touch your tattoo with clean hands, do not allow others to touch your healing tattoo. Some warmth, redness, and irritation is normal. If you suspect infection be sure to consult a health professional at the first sign.
8. PLEASE call with any questions! DON’T ask your friend, sister, brother, mom, mom’s boyfriend, cousin’s buddy’s brother-in-law who once worked in a shop for a summer. We’ve seen it all, and we’ll be happy walk you through ANY concerns you might have! Really!