Tattoo care (now and into the future)
Getting a new tattoo is an exciting experience. To get the most from your tattoo and protect it from infection you should always follow your tattooist’s tattoo care instructions. For helpful hints on caring for your ink watch the video then read our full guide below!
Tattoo care on day 1
Your tattooist will have cleaned your tattoo and most likely applied some ointment and wrapped it. They would have told you to keep it wrapped for around 2-4 hours. Follow their instructions.
After you unwrap your tattoo clean it gently to remove dried blood, plasma and any remnants of ointment. Using antibacterial wash and with clean hands rub your tattoo lightly with your fingers in a circular motion under lukewarm (not hot) water. DON’T use a cloth or scrub your tattoo.
When your tattoo is clean pat it dry with a clean towel or cloth. Gently does it. After the first wash leave your tattoo to dry for at least 1-2 hours. Keep it covered (clean, loose fitting clothing that won’t rub), out of direct sunlight and away from pets. It’s basically an open wound so you need to keep it safe from sources of infection.
Once your tattoo is properly dry apply a small amount of Anchor & Bliss Oil Moisturiser (or Bepanthen or similar) to moisturise and protect it. With clean hands put a small amount of Anchor & Bliss Oil Moisturiser on one hand. Rub both hands together to evenly distribute the product and gently apply to your new tattoo. Resist the urge to use a lot – you want a light sheen, not bodybuilder gloss. Anchor & Bliss Oil Moisturiser is extremely rich and over-moisturising your tattoo with any product can cause thicker scabs to form which can lead to patchiness. With any product using less is better.
Tip: worried you didn’t totally cover your tattoo? Look at it under direct light - if you can see a light sheen on the skin around the tattoo, you’re good.
Change your sheets before you go to bed. Clean sheets will help minimise the exposure to bacteria.
Tip: Consider using dark sheets in case you get any oozing etc. from your tattoo on the first night. If you wake up stuck to your sheets don’t rip them off – apply a small amount of water to the area, to help remove the stuck fabric without damaging your tattoo.
Tattoo care in the first week
It’s important to look after your tattoo and the first week is especially crucial. The key elements are:
- Keep it clean
- Keep it protected
- Keep it dry (don’t soak it)
Don’t touch your new tattoo unless you are cleaning it. Use antibacterial wash to clean your hands and then your tattoo. Never scrub your tattoo with a cloth; just lightly use your fingers. Pat your tattoo dry with a clean cloth or towel and allow it to further air-dry for up to an hour if possible.
Once your tattoo is dry apply a small amount of Anchor & Bliss Oil Moisturiser following the procedure above (or other product following their instructions).
Clean your tattoo at least twice a day (especially in the first couple of days) and be careful not to over-moisturise - with rich products like Anchor & Bliss morning and night should be fine.
We know you want to show off your new art but it’s important to keep it covered up as much as possible, especially in the first week. Sunlight and other environmental factors (dirt & dust, airborne bacteria, pets etc) are your tattoo’s enemies. This also means no pets on beds, sleeping on your tattoo, comically wearing your clothes etc. Cleaning with an antibacterial wash and applying Anchor & Bliss Oil Moisturiser are important parts of creating a barrier to infection.
Keep showers under 10 minutes and no baths/swimming/saunas etc. Avoid very hot showers, the heat will open your pores which can result in loss of ink (especially in those first few days). Wide open pores also make it easier for bacteria to get in, so cool your jets.
Tattoo care in week 2
Most tattoos will look healed (on the surface) within 7-14 days (depending on the size, placement and how your body heals). Your tattoo will be less swollen and sore but more flaky and itchy. Continue to use antibacterial wash daily and apply a small amount of Anchor & Bliss Oil Moisturiser to your clean, dry tattoo once a day. Peeling, light scabs and itchiness are normal, however thick scabs may mean that you are over-applying moisturiser, that you have soaked your tattoo or that your artist overworked the skin.
It’s more important than ever at this point to LEAVE YOUR TATTOO ALONE. Look with your eyes and only touch your tattoo when you’re cleaning or moisturising. Don’t pick at or scratch your new tattoo - it is still healing and this could cause drop-outs or patchiness. You’ve come this far, don’t give up now.
Fun fact: As scabs flake off your skin might be shiny and your tattoo not as vibrant as you expected. There is usually still a layer of dead skin over the tattoo which can obscure the colour. Once that layer naturally flakes away you'll be able to see how your new tattoo really looks.
Tattoo care - weeks 3 and 4
Your tattoo should look pretty much healed around this time but you are still healing under the skin. Continued care here will result in a tattoo that looks better for longer as your body locks in the pigment. Moisturise your tattoo as part of your daily routine - apply a high quality moisturiser directly after showering. If your tattoo seems dry apply additional moisturiser as required (especially in week 4). Be careful of any remaining scabs at this time and just wait it out - remember not to fidget with or pick at them.
If you think your tattoo might be infected SEE YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY. Infections are uncommon but they can happen and early intervention can save you and your tattoo.
It’s normal for tattoos to be sore, to be red and for the area to swell, especially in the first few days – after all, it’s a wound. As the skin peels over the weeks it’s normal for the tattoo to look dry or be itchy.
Signs of infection
Watch for the following, which might indicate that you have an infection:
- Tattoo feels hot
- Pus coming out of the tattoo (definitely bad)
- Persistent red haze around the tattoo and/or a white haze over the tattoo
- Red or black ‘lines’ coming out from the tattoo
- Indentations or puffiness on the surface of the tattoo
- Bad smell
As with any issue around your health: better safe than sorry - if you are concerned, visit your doctor. Better to find out that there’s no problem than wait too long and have to deal with a bigger problem.
Tattoo care and aftercare at a glance
- Clean your new tattoo with antibacterial wash at least twice a day
- Apply a small amount of Anchor & Bliss Oil Moisturiser to clean, dry tattoo twice a day
- Keep your new tattoo covered, away from sunlight, pets and environmental factors
- Don’t scratch or pick at your new tattoo
- Don’t soak your new tattoo - keep showers under 10 minutes and no baths/swimming/saunas etc. for around a month
Note: These are general guidelines - you know your body better than anyone so pay attention to how you are healing and what your body needs. Slayers and Wolverine heal fast - regular folks heal at different rates and you will know best how your body works.
Your tattoo artist should be willing and able to answer any questions you have. Listen to and follow their instructions.
Finally - go and enjoy your tattoo! You look awesome!