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My Go To Tattoo Aftercare / Help Along The Healing Process



First i'd like to talk products and I must stress these are what I use because they're my preference, I know there's many other great tattoo healing products out there, I just think these work best for me.


Products

First of all, you need a great cream to help the healing process along. My go to is Bepanthen's Nappy Care Ointment. This stuff works its magic on fresh tattoos and keeps them perfect until you're fully healed. Since it's made for babies to help heal/protect them from nappy rash, it's brilliant for sensitive skin and really, your skin will be sensitive after being tattooed, no matter how big the piece is. This is a definite must have for those who are getting or have been tattooed. It keeps your tattoo moist and because it helps skin to heal, you're going to cut the healing time down rapidly. 

Secondly I use baby wipes or soft cloth wipes. Now with this, if you're going to opt down the route of baby whips you must only use fragrance free wipes. You do not want to be pushing perfume into your fresh tattoo at all. It will irritate and delay your healing time, even with the cream. Any brand will do, they all do the same job essentially but go with your preference, just remember to get fragrance free.

Thirdly I have Lush's Lemony Flutter for once my tattoo is healed and has reached the stage where my skin is dry and possibly flaky. Only for use once all skin has healed, though, no exceptions!

Lastly you need cling film/saran wrap (not pictured)


Areas Of The Tattoo (use which is suited to your tattoo)

All areas of a fresh tattoo are just as important as each other, so care for them is vital in order to keep your tattoo looking its best. Below is a break down of what areas have what in them and how the healing is important to the area. The above image is my fresh tattoo (done on March 5th 2014) so i'm going to explain using that as a guide, and since my tattoo has most of the typical elements of tattooing (shading, lines, colour etc) these steps and tips are transferable to all tattoos.
  1. While this area doesn't look to have been worked on a whole lot, it really has and the skin is very sensitive. It's a slow build up of light shading, resulting in lots of swelling and redness. It may not appear to need lots of help, it's one of the areas that needs more attention to help keep the colours put into the skin stay in place. These areas I put a blob of cream in the centre of the shading and spread it out, avoiding rubbing it all into the skin - I'll explain why in a moment!
  2. The solid black areas need a lot of care to them. Any neglecting will result in patchy areas and you'll need to have another sitting to repair it to a solid block of black ink. I always overload these areas with more cream than the rest of the tattoo, just so I know it's always hydrated. Dryness on these areas will cause it to scab drastically and draw out the ink, resulting in the patchiness I mentioned earlier.
  3. This area is focusing on the details in the face, chin and neck. This area has multiple colours as well as grey and black shading, so once again the right care is needed in order to keep it looking it's best. My skin reacts differently to different coloured inks. For example, reds seem to dry out a lot faster in my skin, so the lips are coated in a rather thick layer of cream to keep it moist. Same goes for the pink under the eye. Since pink has red pigments, I don't want to risk the same happening, so I layer up there too. The neck area is mostly grey, blacks and a touch of blue so I put less on this area, but still applying enough to keep it hydrated.
How to care for your tattoo?

Once you're all done at the tattoo studio, the artist will wrap your new piece up. The typical covering is usually cling film/saran wrap. Keep this on for an hour or so after you leave the studio. Once home or at a location where you can remove the cover and clean your skin, you need to break out your products (mentioned above). Firstly I take one of my baby wipes and clean the tattoo. You'll have blood, ink and natural body liquids on the skin and you need to get rid of them and a baby wipe does this brilliantly. 

Now you need to wash your tattoo. I used to use fragrance free soap, but I realised it was pretty pointless since I was using the wipes anyway. Get a second, clean wipe and add a touch of warm water to get it wetter than it was before. Now give your skin a light clean, making sure not to apply too much pressure. You want to get all signs of blood and loose ink off your skin. Now tap dry with some kitchen roll or a soft dry towel (don't use toilet paper as it will stick to your skin).

Next you'll apply the cream of your choice. I always overload the skin with cream; much more than what is really needed but there's a good use for it. I personally think it's best to leave quite a bit of the cream visible on the skin as over time your body temperature will melt the cream into your skin - this way you can get away with one application of cream every few hours, instead of every hour. You might think that sounds like a lot of cream, but really, what would you prefer, a blotchy tattoo you've spent your hard earned money on, or buy a few tubes of £3 cream? I know which I'd rather do.

After applying the cream to the skin, I personally keep it wrapped up in cling film/saran wrap until the next application of cream (every three hours, because of the cream overload). I've done this with all of my tattoos and mine have all healed within a few days and look true to when the artist first completed the tattoo in the studio. 

Once your tattoo has healed enough to the point where all ink has sank into the skin and there's no sensitive areas, you might notice your skin gets quite dry. This is purely your skin repairing itself, it's very common. This is when you can apply your products to help remove the dryness. I always use Lemony Flutter by Lush. Just because a little goes a long way, it's very moisturising due to the Shea Butter and Beeswax and doesn't make a mess. I must stress, only use moisturising products after you're fully healed and have reached the dry skin stage.

I hope this helps, but if you have any more questions about tattoos or healing fire me an email at graeme@graemefullwood.co.uk. My experience with tattooing is quite lengthy and I have larger areas of my body tattooed, so this is going off personal experiences with tattoo healing and I have never been failed yet! Happy Tattooing!