Your tattoo artist should give you detailed instructions on the proper aftercare for your new ink. Many people choose not to follow those instructions, but the life span of your tattoo will depend on how well you care for it at the very beginning.
For the most part, all bandages will be left on for the first 2-4 hours. There are certain parlors that will give you a different time frame. Some have often suggested waiting 24 hours. However, it all depends on the size of the tattoo, the color of the ink and what your artist believes is the right amount of time. A bench mark that is commonly used is four hours.
At the four hour mark, it’s time to unwrap that new bad boy.
But, before you start showing off your new ink to family and friends (or posting pictures over to Instagram), you’re going to want to wash it. Don’t just strip the bandages off and start scrubbing! Pay attention to the proper way to wash a new tattoo:
- Use lukewarm water
- GENTLY run your (clean) hand over the tattoo
- Use a mild soap
- GENTLY massage your new tattoo
- Rinse off the soap by lighting splashing water
- DAB your tattoo dry with paper towel
Before you leave the tattoo parlor, ask your artist about recommended care products. There might be a brand of soap your artist favors, or an aftercare product they would recommend. Asking your artist is a good way to ensure the quality of their work. The internet has answers, sure. But it’s nothing compared to someone who has been around the industry.
After initially washing your tattoo, you will want to wash it again periodically. 3-5 times a day is recommended, but that will largely depend on you.
The most important thing for a fresh tattoo is keeping your skin moisturized. However, too much moisture can also cause the tattoo to start pulling from your skin. Maintain a balanced amount of moisture.
If your artist doesn’t recommend any aftercare (or you didn’t think to ask and now you’re looking it up), petroleum jelly is great. You can even apply it to old tattoos for a “brand new” look. Take a small amount of the jelly and massage it into your tattoo.
You can also watch this video to visually see how everything is done.