As a collector, you need to be aware of a few things that can turn a beautiful work of art into a disappointing mess. We have talked about the popular tattoo styles briefly. You might also need to know the first week of healing is critical to how your piece will look for the rest of its life, so let's take a look at some things that should be avoided during this time.
You may not realize, but there's a fine line between over-caring and under-caring for your tattoo. After removing your bandage, you should gently wash your new tattoo with an antibacterial, fragrance free soap & hot water. When you exit the shower, be certain not to rub your tattoo with a towel. Let it dry on its own.
Every tattooer has a different method to heal their tattoos, and this is really due to trial and error. A regimen that may work perfectly for you, may work terribly for a friend - and vice versa. If you choose not to "dry heal" (use no lotion or ointments) a fragrance free lotion should do the trick. What ever product you choose to use, avoid the temptation to slather on more than the recommended amount. Ointments like Vaseline and A&D suffocate the pores, making it hard for the skin to breathe. Your skin needs to breathe to promote and speed the healing process - which is why most professional tattooers will recommend lotion, or butters such as Aquaphor, Lubriderm, After Inked, Redemption, Hustle Butter, Aveeno, Bapanthem, (if you hail from the UK) or Unrefined, Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil for sensitive skin types. The more organic & natural, the better for your skin.
2. Sleeping on top of your Tattoo
So, if you get a tattoo on your back, you need to sleep on your belly for a few days. If you can sleep with your tattoo exposed, that would be best. If not, you can place a clean thin towel between you and the sheets. If in the morning your sheets are stuck to you, follow the same instructions as a stuck bandage, don’t peel the sheet off, take the sheet with you to the shower and wet it off with cool or lukewarm water.
Our hands and the hands of our friends, family, lovers, and children are all equally filthy. Do not touch your tattoo unless you have freshly washed your hands. Keeping your tattoo clean is Rule #1 in the healing process and washing your tattoo a few times a day will avoid a potential infection.
During this two week healing process, you will also want to avoid prolonged water contact. Yes, of course you can shower, and washing your tattoo a few times a day is encouraged - but you shouldn't submerge your tattoo in baths, hot tubs, swimming pools, or salt water.Standing water = unhealthy bacteria & irritants. Icky. You'll want to avoid all of that during your first 2-3 weeks with a tattoo.
Sunblocks and screens are typically not formulated to protect wounds and the like. You will feel your fresh tattoo burning if it's exposed to sunlight. Whether you get your tattoos in the beach-y Miami, posh New York, stylish Toronto or harbour city Sydney, listen to your body, if your tattoo feels hot and irritated, stay out of direct sunlight. If you must be out in the sun, keep that baby covered.
6. Picking & Scrubbing
Your tattoo isn't falling out and there is no cause for alarm! Scabbing is a very normal part of the tattoo healing process.
DO NOT PICK THE SCAB. Don't scrub it either.
Scabbing will typically be the same color as the pigment that was used. If you pick or scrub your scab, you risk pulling out the color or causing hypertrophic scarring. Let the tattoo heal by itself. Patience, young Padawan.
7. Not asking for advice!
Professional tattoo artists do everything possible to ensure safe tattooing practices. However, we are not medical professionals. If weird shit is going down with your tattoo, don’t hesitate to consult with your artist or a doctor right away.
And there it is. While there are a ton of ways ruin a new tattoo, these are the top 7 culprits. Exercise a little care, and common sense and you will enjoy your tattoo for years to come.