You’ve got your first tattoo, and your artist has given you their tattoo aftercare sheet. Now what?
A new tattoo is an open wound and you want to keep it clean and free from the risk of infection as it heals. It is a simple step which people often forget, use fresh towels after showering and change the sheets on the bed.
Your tattoo artist will have given you some aftercare instructions, don’t throw these away. In general most agree to gently wash your tattoo with non-fragranced soap and use a natural moisturizer to keep it from drying out. Your tattoo artist will have some suggestions for product options ranging from simple moisturizers through to specialist bandages. All artists agree to avoid products like sunscreen as the complex chemicals in them will irritate and delay your healing.
UV rays are the enemy of all tattoos, and over time exposure will fade all tattoos, even black ones. So during the healing process avoid going outside during the midday sun without covering your new tattoo and be careful to avoid prolonged exposure. Your healing skin is extra sensitive at this time and will feel sore more quickly. Also, UV damage to a healing tattoo will adversely affect the intensity of the color.
As your tattoo heals, your skin will feel more sensitive and tighter than usual. Keeping it moisturized will reduce this, as will wearing comfortable clothes. Tight clothing will rub on a fresh tattoo, irritating it and making you wish you’d worn something looser. No matter where you got your first tattoo, you will be surprised how wearing a looser clothing will make you infinitely more comfortable.
Planning to get your first tattoo a few days before a long summer hike is a bad idea. While your tattoo is healing, you have to be careful to keep the area clean and avoid irritating it. Strenuous activity will mean more sweat and more chance your tattoo might get exposed to potentially harmful bacteria.
If you work in a manual job that requires lots of repetitive movement or carrying heavy things, you may want to take a few days off or get tattooed on a Friday and have a quiet weekend.
If you follow your artist’s aftercare instructions and avoid sunbathing or swimming during the healing process, your tattoo may not need any touch-ups at all. On larger, or multi-colored tattoos, it is common (almost expected) that some parts will need a touch up after it has healed. There may be some parts of your skin that didn’t take the color as evenly, or an edge which needs a little reapplication of ink. Do not be afraid to contact your artist to book in for a touch-up. These are usually free of charge, but be aware that your artist will be able to tell if the touch-up is needed because you didn’t care for your tattoo properly and let it dry out or if you picked at the scabs.
Once your tattoo has healed, and you realize the pain of your first tattoo wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be, you will probably want another one. The rush and the excitement of having new ink to show off makes it very tempting to rush back for more. Some people wait a month before their second tattoo, others years. Take your time to be inspired again and get something equally as significant as your first tattoo. In the meantime, you can visit Body Art and Soul Tattoo’s studios in Brooklyn, Los Angeles, New Haven, and Philadelphia to be inspired by designs and placement.
When you’ve followed these tips on aftercare for your first tattoo, you’ll have a memorable first tattoo experience! Wonder how we know so much about making first tattoos a special experience? We’ve been training successful tattoo artists who excel at world-class customer service for over eight years! And we’re always looking for talented artists to join our team.
And be sure to check out the other articles in this series where we give our top tips for a great first tattoo before and after your tattoo appointment.