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Guide: Aftercare // Healing

When your appointment is complete, your tattoo will be cleaned with antibacterial soap and covered with either cling film, second skin or sterile padding. Aftercare methods will differ slightly depending on your choice of tattoo covering, and all have been outlined here.

From the moment you leave the studio, it is your responsibility to take care of your tattoo and how you take care of your tattoo during the healing process can have significant results. Good tattoo hygiene will reduce the risk of infection, aid healing and help maintain the colour and sharpness of your new tattoo.

Before touching your new tattoo at any time, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with an antibacterial soap to make sure you’re not spreading pollutants or bacteria into the open wound.

Instructions for cling film

✣ Cling film should be removed in the evening (of your appointment) by carefully unwrapping it or unpicking the micropore tape and must be washed immediately.

✣ Wash your tattoo in tepid water - hot water will be too harsh for a fresh tattoo.

✣ Use only clean hands and fingertips to wash your tattoo, using a (preferably) PH balanced soap. Do not use a cloth.

✣ Gently rub away any traces of blood or ink in a circular motion. The tattooed area should no longer appear shiny if it is properly cleaned.

✣ Repeat these steps the next morning.

✣ Allow your tattoo to air-dry and leave for 24hrs before applying ointment.

✣ Apply a minimal amount of your chosen ointment - just enough to cover your tattoo. If you apply too much ointment, it can be massaged into the surrounding area or wiped away with paper towel.


Instructions for second skin

A photograph of a human leg with a fresh tattoo of a toad. The tattoo has been covered with second skin to protect it, and it looks a little gnarly underneath from secreted ink and plasma.
Second skin adheres directly to your tattoo (though sometimes it needs a little extra help).

✣ Second skin can be left on for a few hours or a few days. I recommended leaving it on for a minimum of 4hrs and a maximum of 4 days. Your tattoo will secrete a little blood, plasma and ink over the first 24hrs which can look a lot like vinegar underneath the patch. This is totally normal and can be washed off when the patch is removed.

✣ Second skin should be taken off slowly in the shower under tepid water. Hot water will be too harsh for a fresh tattoo and can transfer adhesives from the patch to your skin.

✣ Use only clean hands and fingertips to wash your tattoo, using a (preferably) PH balanced soap. Do not use a cloth.

✣ Gently rub away any traces of blood or ink in a circular motion. The tattooed area should no longer appear shiny if it is properly cleaned.

✣ Allow your tattoo to air-dry for 10-15minutes

✣ If your patch was removed the evening or the day after your appointment then you should allow your tattoo to dry out over 24hrs before applying ointment. If you decide to leave the patch on for the full 4 days, then ointment can be applied immediately after washing.

✣ Apply a minimal amount of your chosen ointment - just enough to cover your tattoo. If you apply too much ointment, it can be massaged into the surrounding area or wiped away with paper towel.


Instructions for sterile padding

✣ Sterile pads can be left on for 6-8hrs, and occasionally overnight. Once removed, there will be traces of blood, plasma and ink on the inside - this is nothing to worry about.

✣ Pads are best taken off slowly in the shower but can be removed dry without too much trouble.

✣ Use only clean hands and fingertips to wash your tattoo, using a (preferably) PH balanced soap. Do not use a cloth.

✣ Gently rub away any traces of blood or ink in a circular motion. The tattooed area should no longer appear shiny if it is properly cleaned.

✣ Allow your tattoo to air-dry for 10-15minutes

✣ Apply a minimal amount of your chosen ointment - just enough to cover your tattoo. If you apply too much ointment, it can be massaged into the surrounding area or wiped away with paper towel.

✣ Sterile patches can be used in this way throughout healing until there is no longer any plasma on the inside of the pad once removed. Just ask for extra pads if you would like to do this.

Dont’s

✣ Do not re-wrap the tattoo with cling film unless instructed to do so. If you would like to discuss keeping your tattoo covered with cling film for a few days ('wet healing') please first ask me.

✣ Do not soak your tattoo - this means no baths, swimming, sauna’s or hot tubs for at least two weeks. Soaking a fresh tattoo not only increases your risk of infection, but is can also detach scabs and draw out the ink, making your tattoo patchy once healed.

✣ Don’t apply excessive ointment.This can suffocate your tattoo, prolong healing and increase your risk of infection.

✣ Avoid rigorous exercise, sports and going to the gym during the healing process. At least for the affected areas. Sweat will irritate your tattoo, and stretching the area can cause the lines to “blow out” and increases your risk of hypertrophic scarring.

✣ Do not pick or scratch your tattoo, you will damage it, your skin, and potentially cause scarring.

Do’s

✣ Enjoy your tattoo! You worked so hard to get it!

✣ Continue to moisturise your tattoo! If it feels dry, tight, itchy or in some cases, a little sore, add a little moisturiser as and when you need.

✣ Ask me if you’re unsure about anything.

✣ Consult your GP if you are concerned you’re getting an infection - you may need antibiotics.


Recommended soaps and ointments/creams.

I recommend Dr Bronners Pure Castile Soap, (diluted) hibiscrub, or Sanex 0% to wash your tattoo with but it is not the end of the world if all you have is generic body wash - it will be better than not using soap at all. Just steer clear from bars of soap as these can harbour bacteria.

For aftercare I recommend Hustle Butter or Palmers Cocoa Butter, but if you already have a cream that works for you then by all means stick with what you know.


A photograph of two recommended aftercare creams sitting atop a wooden table next to a houseplant.
Diablo balm and Hustle Butter are great for your fresh tattoos, can be bought online and and come in a range of sizes.

Additional information

A properly cleaned and cared-for tattoo will be less likely to scab, hurt and itch and more likely to heal well by reducing these factors and allowing your body to repair itself unencumbered by problems easily avoided. But I want everyone to be 100% satisfied with their tattoos, so should you find that worse comes to worst and your tattoo needs a little TLC, I offer touch-ups free of charge for tattoos that need them within the first 6 months of your appointment (longer for those of you who live outside the UK). Just email me a photo so I know how long to book you in for.

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