I've been collecting tattoos for quite a long time now (just under ten years in fact) and throughout that time I've been told many different tips on the best way to heal and care for your new tattoo. It's only fairly recently that I've found my preferred method that works the best for me and I thought I'd share it to save some of you from making some of the same errors I have in the past. So, here's what I do and the products I use:
The most important thing is to keep your new tattoo clean! Just like you would say if you'd scraped your knee or got any other skin wound. If you don't do this it will get infected and this won't only be painful and irritating to you but it will ruin your beautiful new tattoo, most likely pulling out some colour and even blurring areas. Keep the protective covering on your tattoo for as long as your artist tells you to and make sure your first clean is thorough and gets off all the goop that will have collected under the cover.
After seeing Valerie Vargas recommend it a while ago I started using Dr Bronners Organic Liquid Soaps to clean my new tattoos because it's a high quality, completely natural product - my local TK Maxx pretty much always has it in but you can also find it in select Holland and Barrett stores and various online retailers including the company's own website. Although it may seem like a good idea to use an anti-bacterial or moisturising soap this actually isn't a great plan, you'll just be putting unnecessary chemicals into your system that will hinder your skin from doing what it wants to do and heal the wound. Your skin is smart, it's one of the most resilient organs you have (yes, your skin is an organ) and it knows what to do when it's compromised. Use hot water, not so hot that it hurts but as warm as you're comfortable with so it really gets all the grime out and opens your pores. Don't soak your new tattoo, just clean and rinse and when you're done pat it dry gently with a clean, fresh cloth or towel - don't use a paper towel or kitchen towel as this isn't very hygienic and can leave bits of paper stuck to your skin. Do this two or three times a day until your tattoo is starting to scab over, at which point you can go down to less regular washes say one in the morning and one at night.
Don't over moisturise your new tattoo! This is an important one and a mistake that I made with my first few tattoos. I was so concerned with not letting my new tattoo get dry that I would apply several layers of Savlon a day - all this did was attract more dirt and stop the skin from healing as it just soaked up all the moisturiser. Those first few tattoos of mine are kind of patchy and the lines are not very crisp, not because of age but because the colour was pulled out by over moisturising. I now use Bepanthen Nappy Care Ointment on my tattoos at the recommendation of Jo Harrison and I only use a tiny amount, at most twice a day. I would really say only apply it once and only a very thin layer so it isn't sticky to avoid it collecting dirt, especially on your legs which are nearer the ground where most of that grime and dust lies! Another product which has been highly recommended to me by lots of artists is Hustle Butter Deluxe, although I am yet to try it out myself.
Protect your new tattoo from the sun! We all know the sun is damaging to our skin, but it's even more harmful to skin that is already damaged. I know lots of people who like to get tattooed on holiday and if you're planning on doing this takes precautions - sea water can really dry out your new tattoo and flying with a new tattoo is not advisable due to the risk of swelling etc in the high pressure and he main cause of tattoos blurring is exposure to sunlight. I've been told this is because it disperses the pigments in the ink causing them to spread and blur and as you can imagine this is much more likely to happen before the tattoo has even been allowed to initially heal! Always use a good quality high factor sun cream on your tattoos, throughout your whole life not just at the beginning.
If you have any questions do feel free to ask away and I'll try to help as best I can, if I don't know the answer I'll ask one of our tattoo artist friends for their advice!
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