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Welcome

From tattooing over a decade and also getting tattooed even longer than that I felt like creating a space where I could share some of the most important aspects I've come across. Hopefully I can inform and educate clients that love getting tattooed and tattooers in their earlier stages understand some of the basic principles of the tattoo world.

The Healing Process

   A fresh tattoo is in fact a wound and it needs to be taken care of. The healing process of a new tattoo is just as important as the tattoo application it self. So once the artist finishes his part of the job it's now the clients turn to put in the work. Making sure the tattoo heals correctly without any loss of pigment. There are many different approaches towards the proper care of a fresh tattoo and every artist has their method or thoughts towards what works best. Sometimes depending on the style of the tattoo or placement on the body one process may be better suited than another. Im going to talk about five different ways Ive discovered over the years on how to care for that fresh tattoo and what scenarios it might work best.

   Before that I would like to mention that only a well technically executed tattoo can heal into a solid looking tattoo. If its not properly done it doesn't matter how well you take care of it, it won't heal correctly. You can't imagine how many tattooers hide their inexperience behind making their client believe it was their fault the tattoo didn't heal right. I do also have to mention that there are clients that have no regards for proper after care and are totally responsible for the terrible outcome. Tattooers and clients both need to do their part for the best possible outcome.    

 

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How to care for your new tattoo

Standard tattoo healing

This is the most common way of caring for that fresh tattoo. There are  three different periods during the healing process. Each one with its own requirements.   Day 1-3 All you need to do is keep the tattoo clean and protected. This  means washing it with soap and water 2-3 times a day. A ph neutral antibacterial soap is recommended, pretty much anything you shower or wash your hands with will do. Avoid soaps with strong aromas and exfoliants. When drying the tattoo after washing use paper towels and dab it dry. During this three day period you may want to protect the tattoo in certain situations with plastic barrier film. Do not wear the film during the entire 2-3 days! I recommend it for sleeping, being in contact with contaminated areas or animals, also to avoid friction with rough clothing, straps and book bags. No sports should be practiced during this period. Absolutely Avoid Pools, Beaches, Saunas, Baths, direct sunlight or tanning.   Day 4-7 This is the the dry period of the tattoo. As the tattoo regenerates it sheds the top layer of damaged skin and it will start to peel like a sunburn. The skin will flake and fall the same color as the tattoo. Don't worry, this is normal. During this period you want still maintain the tattoo clean but now it needs to be moisturized. You will need to apply a thin layer of tattoo aftercare lotion 2-3 times a day making sure the skin feels nourished. It doesn't need to be wet, just moisturized. It's very important you use a tattoo lotion specifically designed for aftercare. During this period you may get back into doing sports and exercise but always being aware of the tattoo. You can't get hit on the tattoo or  have any friction on it. Absolutely Avoid Pools, Beaches, Saunas, Baths, direct sunlight or tanning.    Day 7-14 This is the final period of the healing process. At this point the tattoo feels like it has healed but it's still regenerating. The tattoo looks shinny because it has a fresh layer of skin regrown overtop. applying tattoo lotion once a day will make the tattoo look and feel better. Sports and exercise shouldn't be an issue anymore but avoiding Pools, Beaches, Saunas, Baths, direct sunlight or tanning.

Second skin healing

Healing your tattoo with second skin is the most comfortable way to do it. This process is great for tattoos that are on flat surfaces of the body that don't have much movement or torsion. The plastic skin tends to peel off or break when its on knees or elbows. The process is super simple and I strongly recommend but it does have its drawbacks. I will explain the way I do the procedure for the best results. Once the tattoo is finished I wrap it with normal plastic barrier film and let the client leave it on over night. In the morning they need to wash the tattoo and leave it dry for the rest of the day. The best thing to do is to apply the second skin at some point of the following day. This allows for the skin to finish secreting and be less inflamed. That way you avoid getting the secretion bubbles trapped in the plastic. Before I apply the second skin I clean around the tattoo with alcohol on a paper towel. This sanitizes and dries the skin from body oils so that the plastic can adhere better. I recommend leaving the plastic on 5-6 days. During this time you can shower but be very cautious of the plastic sticker not peeling off. Truthfully the only thing the client needs to do is protect the second skin from being damaged. Avoid Pools, Beaches, Saunas, Baths, direct sunlight or tanning. Once you remove the second skin the tattoo is very close to being healed and should get moisturize once a day for the following week. If at any point after applying the second skin the tattoo becomes redder or more irritated remove it immediately and do the standard healing process. Some people have allergic reactions to the adhesive of this product or in some cases.

Small tattoo second skin healing

This is a common way of caring for a tattoo that's usually small and simple. This is done mostly with walk-in style tattoos that tend to be less traumatic for the skin. A lot of times people getting these tattoos are traveling or having an active day and this is a great way to ensure that the tattoo is protected in its early stages.   Once the tattoo is finished its good to wait 15-20 minutes before putting on the second skin. This allows the tattoo to expel its initial secretion and not be trapped in the plastic. The second skin should be left on for about 2 days. During this period the film will get some secretion trapped inside making the tattoo look strange, distorted or blurred. This is totally normal and once the plastic is removed and the tattoo is cleaned it will look just how it did originally. At this point the healing process can be like the second stage of standard healing but usually faster. Applying tattoo aftercare ointment to keep the area nourished and hydrated.

Dry tattoo healing

This process is great for large scale tattoos with a lot of saturation because full color or black outs tend to weep more than other tattoos during the healing process. This procedure can also be used for other styles as well but it definitely suites the large scale ones better. It is not comfortable at all but it works great. For this you’re going to need a lot of dry LOC pads! These are pads that are absorbent on one side and non porous on the other. The tattoo will be covered with the dry pad and wrapped or held in place with paper surgical tape. Be sure the absorbent side is in contact with the skin so that all the fluids get trapped. Very little tattoo lotion will be needed with this process. Day 1-6 During this period you will wash the tattoo twice a day, once in the morning and once at night and after every wash you will cover the tattoo with dry LOC pads and keep it covered until the next washing. Same as standard healing use a ph neutral anti bacterial soap and use paper towels to dab dry the tattoo. No sports should be practiced during this period. Absolutely Avoid Pools, Beaches, Saunas, Baths, direct sunlight or tanning. Day 7-14 After the first week the tattoo will be super dry and the skin will be cracked and flaky. At this point putting lotion on the tattoo once or twice a day to hydrate and nourish the skin will be the only thing necessary. No more dry pads will be needed. Sports and exercise shouldn't be an issue anymore but avoiding Pools, Beaches, Saunas, Baths, direct sunlight or tanning.

Wet tattoo healing

This process is probably the least recommended and I’m sure many tattooers are against it but I’ve personally healed a large scale tattoo on myself and it came out perfect. The idea is very similar to dry healing but instead of dry pads you wrap the tattoo in plastic barrier film. I recommend this process for elbows and knees. Since the skin is so elastic in these areas and in constant motion having the area moist prevents cracking of the skin and scabbing during healing. Unfortunately you will be walking around with your tattoo wrapped in plastic a really long time. Very little tattoo lotion will be needed with this process. Day 1-6 During this period you will wash the tattoo twice a day, once in the morning and once at night and after every wash you will cover the tattoo with plastic barrier film and keep it covered until the next washing. Same as standard healing use a ph neutral anti bacterial soap and use paper towels to dab dry the tattoo. No sports should be practiced during this period. Absolutely Avoid Pools, Beaches, Saunas, Baths, direct sunlight or tanning. Day 7-14 After the first week the tattoo doesn’t need to be wrapped anymore. It just needs to be maintained clean and slightly hydrated, putting lotion on the tattoo once or twice a day will be the only thing necessary. Sports and exercise shouldn't be an issue anymore but avoiding Pools, Beaches, Saunas, Baths, direct sunlight or tanning.

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