Now that you have your new tattoo, you will want to take good care of it!
As a collector, you need to be aware of a few things that can turn a beautiful work of art into a disappointing mess. 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 we suggest during this time...
DON'T: Rub Too Much 'Lotion On The Skin'
Contrary to what Buffalo Bill says, too much lotion is no good.
You may not realize, but there's a fine line between over-caring and under-caring for your fresh tattoo. After removing your bandage, you should gently wash it with an antibacterial, fragrance free soap & hot water. When you exit the shower, be certain not to rub your new 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. Whatever 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.
DO: Wear loose fitting clothing over your healing tattoo
Try not to sandpaper your new piece off with fabric the minute you get it. There's nothing more abrasive than rough denim on a fresh one- so during the healing process, we recommend comfy, loose fitting clothing that allows your tattoo to breathe.
DON'T: Sleep on top of your new tattoo
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.
DON'T: Touch your healing piece with unwashed hands
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 new 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 new 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 new tattoo.
DO: Stay out of the sun, and if you can't... use sunscreen!
You will feel your fresh tattoo burning if it's exposed to sunlight. 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 - or grab some gentle sunblock.
DON'T: Pick or scrub your scabs
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 new tattoo heal by itself. Patience, young Padawan.
DO: Ask for advice if it's needed
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 new tattoo, don’t hesitate to consult with your artist or a doctor right away.
And there it is. While there are many DO's and DON'T's in collecting and caring for tattoos, these are the ones we're most asked about. Exercise a little care, and common sense and you will enjoy your tattoo for years to come.