If you want your new tattoo to heal properly, so that it will look the best it can for its entire life, caring for it is essential. There are many methods people use, but over the years I have found this fairly standard procedure to work best for myself and almost all of my clients. If you have different plans, I recommend discussing it with me first.
More pro tips:
Initial healing can sometimes take up to 3-4 weeks. After healed, wearing sunscreen when being exposed or covering up is always a good idea!
Redness and swelling should subside over the first few days. Flaking/peeling like a sunburn is normal.
Do NOT encourage peeling by picking at or rubbing at the tattoo with force. Let it shed on its own.
Old, clean pajamas for the first few nights are a good idea. It can sometimes get messy. If you wake up stuck to fabric, get it wet and slowly remove the article.
Make sure sheets, clothes, hands and anything else it comes in contact with is clean. If you notice it has gotten dirty, stop what you are doing and go wash it.
Itchiness comes with the territory! Scratching is strictly forbidden, but usually a little lotion or some light slapping will help.
Keep it free! Avoid straps and tight fitting clothing or shoes as well as jewelry from rubbing against your healing tattoo.
Leave bandage on no longer than 2 hours. Wash hands, then remove bandage.
Clean tattoo, being sure to remove any dried blood and/or excess ink discharge. Wash at least twice a day using antibacterial soap. Always use fingers with gentle pressure, never a washcloth.
Pat dry with clean paper towel, then let air dry for 5-10 min.
Apply very thin layer of ointment, like Aquaphor or A&D, with clean fingers. Less is more here. Rub it in so it is not slathered on the surface, suffocating the tattoo.
After day 3, switch from ointment to plain white hand lotion or cocoa butter. The fewer dyes and perfumes, the better.
*Do not submerge your tattoo in any water for at least 3-4 weeks. Keep your showers brief, while trying to keep the area dry until the end when you clean it.
*Sunlight will damage your tattoo. Keep it covered loosely (avoid re-bandaging) when being exposed during initial healing.