Looking after your tattoo properly in the immediate and long term future can make a huge difference to how well your tattoo heals, looks and lasts.
Your artist will always advise of the appropriate aftercare at the end of your session. It's important to follow their advice, even if you have had many tattoos previously.
A good tattoo can start before the process of needle to skin even begins
We would recommend keeping your skin protected from the sun, ideally by covering it completely or protecting it with factor 50 sun block. You should be extra diligent 2 weeks prior to the appointment. Protected skin is always going to allow for a nicer tattoo, as it will be easier for the artist to work with.
Do not shave the area yourself immediately before the appointment. This could result in a shaving rash or even cuts which may affect whether the area can be tattooed. Leave this to your artist- they don't mind!
Avoid fake tan or applying any creams that may alter the texture or colour of the skin. This can be problematic in that it adds a chemical to the skin, which can be a hygiene issue. It could also distort and affect the colour of the inks, so they do not come out as true as possible.
Avoid numbing cream. It may seem counter intuitive, but this actually makes the pain worse. Once this wears off, the pain will come on suddenly and intensely, which is not only uncomfortable, but can be a shock and will make the whole experience worse.
Avoid drinking alcohol the night before. Have a large, balanced breakfast and bring snacks/sugary drinks with you. Keep hydrated. This will help you to feel prepared and better. The better you feel, the better you'll sit. How well you are able to sit still and comfortably will make a big difference to how well the artist is able to work!
Immediately after your tattoo
Leave any protective film as per instructed by your artist.
Wear lose clothing on the area for the coming days, to avoid disruption to the film and to prevent any clothes fibres from becoming stuck in the tattoo.
Ensuring that you use a PH neutral face wash to clean the tattoo, for at least the first 2 weeks, will give it the best chance at keeping clean. Use a clean hand to gently wipe over the area as you wash it.
Avoid drying your tattoo with a towel or flannel. Not only may they be carrying bacteria, but the fibres could interfere with and stick to your tattoo, making it more prone to infection. Use clean kitchen roll to pat it dry. Only use kitchen roll, rather than tissue, as this will not break up and stick to the area.
Avoid any aftercare cream that hasn't been advised, recommended or sold by your artist. Apply it according to the time frame as suggested by the artist. We recommend and sell Lucas PawPaw Ointment, which is a papaya based aftercare treatment. You can pick it up in the studio for £10.
Remember, your tattoo is essentially an open wound, so keep it clean and soothed with the recommended aftercare. It is completely normal and expected for it to lightly flake during the immediate healing process. Avoid itching or pulling at the tattoo. Disturb it as little as possible so that it has the best chance to heal well.
Do not swim or go in the sea during this stage.
Do not expose the tattoo to sunlight for an absolute minimum of 2 weeks after having it done. After this, protect it appropriately with sun block.
Long term care
Your tattoo may not be fully healed until 6 weeks after having it, so take precautions as you have been regarding towel drying, swimming etc.
Keep your tattoo protected from all sun damage with factor 50 sun block whenever you are exposing that area.
Keep the area moisturised and clean, to allow it to look it's best.
Look after your skin in general; stay hydrated to allow both it and your tattoo to age well and keep it's elasticity.
Contact your artist if you feel there are areas that may need touching up. Please don't be scared to ask if you're not sure!
If you have any concerns, contact your artist!
Your tattoo will change over time. This is completely normal. Pigment may drop out and the ink will spread under the skin over time. This can mean that fine lines will become slightly thicker.
Certain areas, such as hands, fingers and elbows will be much more prone to the ink dropping out due to the usage and movement of these areas. Places like the side of the foot will encounter friction from your shoes. You may need several touch ups for these areas and it is very common for them to fade considerably in a short time frame.
We always urge you to consider placements carefully, and recommend looking at examples of fully healed and aged tattoos in the areas you're interested in, so that you can know what to expect.
To give your tattoo the best chance of retaining it's original characteristics, it is important you adhere to the aftercare instructions your artist advises. Sun damage is one of the biggest factors that can alter the appearance of tattoos over time, so keep them protected accordingly!
Look after and wear your tattoo with pride! It is a permanent, original piece of art that should, providing you take care, look great for years to come!
Do you have a healed tattoo from one of our artists?
We'd love to see how our art is faring out in the world - if you're happy to share some images, please send clear photos of your healed tattoos to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please be aware we may publish these images on our social media platforms/website.
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Written by Abbie McMurray for Ladies and Gentlemen Tattoo Studio