Whether your new tattoo is a part of your spontaneous personality or was meticulously planned out over a long period of time, proper care is crucial. If you want to make sure your tattoo retains its initial quality and look, follow our guide for proper aftercare.

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Aftercare Overview

By following a few recommended steps, you can help ensure your tattoo will be a showpiece for the long haul. In general, the aftercare process involves simple care until the art piece has healed.

  • Cleaning after bandage removal
  • Moisturizing with ointment after cleaning
  • Moisturizing with lotion
  • Avoiding a few things that will hinder healing

Bandage Removal and Cleaning

After your tattoo has been completed, leave the bandage in place for an hour or two. Make sure you remove the bandage in a clean environment to prevent unnecessary germ exposure. Using a gentle antibacterial soap that doesn’t include any scrubbing elements or moisture beads, carefully wash the tattoo and surrounding area. For best cleaning results, make a lather with the soap and water in your hand first before washing the tattoo area. Using a circular motion, apply the soap and gently clean off any ointment left during the initial bandaging process.

After rinsing the soap, allow the tattoo to air dry. If necessary, a hair dryer with a cool setting could be used to assist the drying. At this point, you don’t want to rub with a towel or anything that can be too rough on the freshly exposed tattoo. Your tattoo will need to be carefully cleaned in this way twice a day for the first couple of days.

Moisturizing Your Tattoo With Ointment

Each time your tattoo is washed and air-dried it will need to be moisturized afterward. Moisturizing will help with the healing process and prevent excess scabbing of the area. The ointment needs to be thick enough to cover the area lightly but not leave excess. Aquaphor or vitamin E oil are both good options. You will need to rub the oil or ointment carefully into the clean tattooed skin. Any excess can be removed with a paper towel by dabbing gently.

If you see any weeping, light oozing or excess ink leaking away this can be typical and isn’t cause for alarm. Simply dab away with a paper towel and continue to use the ointment. You only need a small amount each time, reapplying every four to six hours. This step typically lasts three or four days. The ointment can be discontinued once the tattooed area begins to experience light flaking.

Switch to Lotion For Moisturizing

Several days after your tattoo has been completed, you will be able to discontinue use of Aquaphor or other ointments. As a sign you are ready to move to the next step in the tattoo aftercare process, your tattooed skin will begin flaking. Flaking is a normal part of the tattoo healing process. After flaking begins, an unscented, plain lotion can be used to keep the skin moisturized.

It’s important to make sure the lotion is fragrance-free and hypoallergenic in order to avoid irritation. Lubriderm or Eucerin are both good choices for providing moisture without irritation. Application of lotion can be repeated as the tattoo takes time to finish drying out, but overuse of lotion can also cause irritation. If you notice the area is starting to break out, ease up on the number of times per day you apply the lotion or switch to a different brand.

What To Avoid During Tattoo Aftercare

In addition to keeping your tattoo clean and properly moisturized during the healing process, a few more tips can make the experience easier.

  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting or non-breathable fabrics over your tattoo for at least the first several days.
  • Breathable cotton fabrics are best for healing and to prevent damage to your clothing.
  • Avoid anything that might cause excessive itching or irritation, such as wool, a tight bra strap or a tight waistband on your pants.

One of the main roadblocks to proper tattoo healing is the urge to scratch the tattoo once it becomes itchy or pick at any scabbing or flaking that occurs. During the first few days, fully submerging in water should be avoided as well as exposing your new tattoo to the sun. Most tattoos heal fully and without issue within a couple of weeks, but if you notice any excessive redness, swelling or discharge or if you begin to run a fever that can’t be attributed to another cause, you should contact your doctor for direction.

Self-Expression Through Tattooing

If you are looking for a beautiful or exciting new piece of art for your skin, the Smoking Buddha’s in-house tattoo services can provide you with the customized, artistic tattoo of your dreams. An inspired tattoo artist knows how important self-expression can be to the customer,  contact us today to get started on realizing your vision.