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Tattoo aftercare: 5 essential tips

  • 1

    Care starts from day one

    Your tattoo artist should apply an antibiotic ointment and covering over your tattoo. This will help keep it clean and clear from infection and prevent it from chafing on your clothes. Keep this on for 2-3 hours. After carefully removing it, gently cleanse your tattoo with warm water and a hypoallergenic cleanser. After lathering up, gently rinse and pat your tattoo dry before allowing it to air dry. You can also reapply a fresh protective covering (like plastic wrap) for extra protection.

  • 2

    Keep your skin moisturized

    Moisturizing your tattoo regularly helps lubricate the skin, reduces the chances of friction and helps it heal faster. Don’t use scented lotions as these can cause burning and irritation. Instead, apply antibacterial cream or a hypoallergenic white cream moisturizer 2-4 times a day to give your tattoo the nourishment it needs. 

  • 3

    Cleanse with care

    It’s recommended to wash (and never scrub or exfoliate) your tattoo at least twice a day during the first week. Again, use your hypoallergenic cleanser and don’t fully submerge your tattoo in water – showering is totally fine. Your tattoo is still very delicate, so treat it with care at this stage. You may also notice some ink running off. This is normal and is usually excess ink coming up through your skin.

  • 4

    Expect scabbing + swelling

    A lot of people are surprised when their tattoo starts to scab over, but you shouldn’t be. It’s normal and part of the healing process. What you shouldn’t do is pick it. Scabbing is not a sign that something is wrong – it actually means healthy tissue is forming under your artwork. That’s why pulling away scabs can damage your design, which may then require retouching.

  • 5

    Don’t scratch the itch

    In a couple of weeks your scabs will start to fall off. Your skin may also start to itch and look dry or a little dull. Avoid scratching and continue to apply your ointment or moisturizer. If you notice persistent pain that isn’t subsiding, you may have an infection. This can be treated with antibiotic ointments purchased from the pharmacy, but always consult your physician first.

    Now you know how to take care of a new tattoo, discover five reasons why men should care for their skin every day.