Tattoo Aftercare: Don't make these mistakes

We all make mistakes; we are human.  There are many mistakes that can be made with a new tattoo; placement, inks, even the artist’s ability to tattoo, like did they get enough rest and so on. Aftercare is where many mistakes can be made as well, so it’s important to know and understand the aftercare process. Knowing the mistakes to avoid with tattoo aftercare is just as important. Your artist should go over the correct ways to care for your tattoo. By following proper aftercare, your tattoo will last longer and keep the colors vibrant. When your artist is going over aftercare procedures, make sure you have a way to contact them; phone, text, direct message. This is important in the case of an infection. The nicer you treat your tattoo the less likely you will need a touchup.

Mistake #1:Over or Under Moisturizing

It seems obvious that you need to keep the tattoo moisturized for proper healing. A dry tattoo can crack and wrinkle from the dry skin underneath. With that said, over-moisturization  can also be a problem. Ointments and balms tend to be thicker than creams. This heaviness of ointments and balms can suffocate the tattoo, especially during the healing process. Yes, you want your tattoo to stay soft and supple, but too much of a good thing can lead to the growth of bacteria trapped against your skin and tattoo. In a short time, that bacteria can lead to an infection. This is not only harmful to the tattoo, but can cause you significant health concerns, as well. 

Mistake #2: Scratching or Touching

You will need to carefully touch your tattoo to clean and moisturize it, but anything beyond that - keep your hands off! Healing tattoos, like any trauma to the skin, are often itchy and flaky. You want to avoid scratching and peeling as this can ruin your new tattoo. It will cause the scabbing to come off too early. This can lead to white spaces, cracks and distortion of the tattoo. 

If your tattoo and the area around it is shifting from itchy to swollen or discolored, contact your artist or a medical professional immediately. This could be a sign of infection.

person with tight clothing

Mistake #3: Tight Clothing 

The clothing and shoes you wear may not be the first thing you think of with tattoo aftercare, but it can make a difference in the healing process. Any material  that rubs against your tattoo has the opportunity to cause damage to the artwork of the tattoo. It can also rub off the scabbing and disrupt the healing process. 

If you have a food or ankle tattoo, consider your foot wear options while it's healing. Sandals with straps and metal pieces can scrape your tattoo. Sandals and flip flops also leave your tattoo exposed to the environment, including the sun, sweat, and dirt. 

When planning for your new tattoo, pick out,  in advance, the clothing and shoes you may need to have during the healing process.

Mistake #4: Avoid water at all costs 

Personal hygiene is important but you should take a shower instead of a bath during the healing phase. A quick shower will help clean you and your new tattoo, at the same time. The biggest things you want to avoid are soaking, drying and scrubbing. If you normally use a loofah or washcloth, avoid your tattoo. These have a rough texture and can cause the healing scabs to come off before they're ready. The same is true when you hop out and towel dry off. Carefully pat dry your tattoo and apply aftercare products to lock in moisture. When it comes to soaking, the best way to avoid this is sticking to quick showers until your new tattoo is completely healed. No bubble baths for a while. 

Mistake #5: Sun and Tattoos

Summer may sound like the best time to get a tattoo; but the sun and heat can be a recipe for disaster to your new tattoo. The heat of summer causes sweating to the skin where your tattoo is placed. Sweat can cause the tattoo to slough off scabbing before it's ready. There is the risk of your skin blistering from overexposure to the sun. It can also trap and introduce bacteria to your healing tattoo. 

No sun for the first 2 weeks after getting your new ink-cover it up! It’s best to avoid direct sunlight on a new tattoo for 4 to 6 weeks. If you must be in the sun, use a mineral-based sunscreen to protect your tattoo from burning or absorbing too much heat and causing excessive sweating. As with other tattoo care products, you want to avoid suffocating the tattoo; choose all-natural products when you can. . 

Mistake #6: Being Active

Activities and movement will affect the healing of your new tattoo. Avoid swimming until your tattoo is fully healed, at a minimum of 4 weeks if not longer. Swimming goes back to the soaking problem, such as taking a bath. Submerging in water can introduce a variety of bacteria and disrupt healing. Furthermore, swimming pools and hot tubs contain harsh chemicals that can irritate the tattoo and interrupt proper healing. 

Heavy exercise causes a couple of problems. Sweating can cause problems and introduce bacteria to your tattoo. Depending on your workout clothing, shoes and positions rubbing can occur. This can push or pull scabbing off. Disrupting scabs and the peeling process can leave broken lines, white spots and loss of color to your new tattoo. Also consider working out, you are  stretching and pulling your skin with every rep, every movement. This can cause damage to the tattoo and break apart scabbing.

Man in shower singing

Mistake #7: Personal Hygiene 

You want to avoid shaving the area where your new tattoo is healing. This can cause major damage to your tattoo, including tearing off scabs, cutting the skin, and causing infection.

Avoid using beauty products on the new tattoo area until after the healing process has been completed. Introducing lotions, perfumes, and makeup to the healing tattoo can introduce bacteria and irritate the skin. 

Final Thoughts: Be Prepared

When planning for your tattoo, consider placement and size of the piece. Think about the time of the year you plan to get your tattoo. Think about the weather and how that will impact your healing. You can prepare for your aftercare based on what conditions your tattoo will be healing under. Preparing in advance for proper aftercare you can avoid all the mistakes above. 

Every tattoo artist should offer information for your new tattoo aftercare. They will go over when to remove the wrap, how to clean, how to moisturize and what to watch for in the event of infection or oozing. It's up to you to carefully follow those instructions to preserve your tattoo long after it has healed. If you suspect infection or other problems, contact your artist or a medical professional immediately for directions on how to treat it. 

Now that you are aware of some of the mistakes regarding tattoo aftercare, you can be prepared and confident in your experience getting your new tattoo.