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How to Take Care of Your Tattoos

Your ink is precious. Look after it!

April 14, 2024
3 min read

Whether it’s a meaningful symbol, a beautiful design, or a cherished memory, tattoos hold significance and value to those who have them. However, the journey to vibrant and long-lasting tattoos doesn’t end at the tattoo studio. Proper care and maintenance are essential to ensure that your tattoos remain vivid and sharp for years to come.

From pre-tattoo preparations to long-term maintenance, we’ll explore the best practices, products, and lifestyle choices that contribute to the longevity of your tattoos. Whether you’re a tattoo enthusiast or a newcomer to the world of body art, this guide is your roadmap to keeping your tattoos looking their best, now and in the future. So let’s dive in and discover how to care for your tattoos with the attention and dedication they deserve.

Preparing for your Tattoo

You’ll have already (presumably) researched and chosen a tattoo artist who specializes in the style you want, and you’ve talked to them about placement, size, and design.

Before the big day, look after your skin. Stay hydrated, exfoliate and moisturise. Stay out of the sun or wear suncream if it’s sunny – I don’t think anyone would recommend a tattoo on sunburnt skin!

On the day itself, make sure you’ve had something to drink and eat. I’ve had a tattoo without eating anything, and let me tell you – it was not fun. I know someone who passed out whilst having a tattoo! Bring sugary snacks, a sports drink like Lucozade or something to keep yourself going, especially if it’s a long session or a painful spot. 

Wear something loose and comfortable, so getting to the area you’re having tattooed is easy, and it isn’t too tight once it’s done.

Post-Tattoo Care

Once you’ve got through the session (well done!), make sure you talk to the artist about the after care that they recommend. Usually, they will wrap your tattoo in cling film or a bandage like Secondskin. Keep this on for at least a few hours, or for as long as your tattoo artist recommends – which could be a few days.  

You might find, especially if your artist has used cling film, that your tattoo is wet with ink, and maybe blood when you come to take your wrap off. This is completely normal – it’s plasma combined with ink. Simply rinse off and gently wash with a unfragranced soap and lukewarm water, pat dry with a paper towel or clean towel and lightly moisturise with something like bepanthen or and unscented moisturiser.

Your tattoo may still be red and hot to the touch. The moisturiser should be soothing. There’s no need to re-bandage. 

This care regime of washing, drying and moisturising should be repeated every few hours. The moisturiser will help prevent the area drying out and cracking or bleeding, making it an essential part of the healing process. 

Your tattoo will scab and itch – try really hard not to pick at it. Picking at and peeling your skin will only hinder the healing process and it could even damage your tattoo. And after all you’ve been through, you really don’t want to do that! 

Things to avoid while your tattoo is still healing: 

  • Going out in the sun. Not only would getting sunburn on a new tattoo really suck, but it could break down the pigment in your skin and ruin your tattoo. Cover up if you have to go out!
  • Working out. For 48 hours, anyway. Exercise exposes your tattoo to sweat and bacteria that you don’t really want anywhere near your open wound of a tattoo. After 48 hours try to stick to light exercise and make sure you wash your tattoo immediately afterwards. 
  • Tight clothing. It will rub and catch and just generally be unpleasant. Instead go for something baggy and comfortable.
  • Swimming, hot tubs etc. They’re hot beds of bacteria and no matter what you try to “waterproof” your tattoo, it’s not going to fully work and may even be detrimental to the healing of your tattoo. 
  • Alcohol. At least for a day or so afterwards. Alcohol thins the blood and can mean that your tattoo loses more ink and ends up looking faded. When you see scabs though, you’re good to go.

Long-Term Tattoo Care

Once your tattoo has healed, there are still things you can do to keep your tattoo looking good. It’s now part of your skin so everything that you’d usually do to keep your skin healthy is what will help your tattoo.

Namely, keeping hydrated, eating healthy food, exercising and cleansing and moisturising your skin regularly. You can also take skin supplements too. You don’t necessarily need any fancy tattoo specific products!

Do you have any tips for taking care of your tattoos?

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Hi, I’m Darcie.

Bound in Bone is my goth fashion and lifestyle blog. I like to write about dark outfits, spooky interiors and the goth lifestyle in general. You’ll find everything from alternative markets to what to wear to the gym, and more!

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