Aftercare starts as soon as your tattoo is done. The artist cover's the area in a bandage or plastic wrap. This covering prevents bacteria from getting into your skin. It also protects the tattoo from rubbing on your clothes and getting irritated.
Keep the dressing on for about 1 or 2 hours. It will help absorb any fluid or excess ink that leaks from the tattoo.
Later, you can remove the bandage. Wash your hands first with lukewarm water and handwash. Then gently apply the tattoo with handwash foam and wet wipes.
Pat your skin dry with a soft cloth.
Leave the tattoo at this point, without cover for one day, for the skin to breathe, make sure not to apply any jelly over the tattoo.
The First Day
You’ll come home from the artist with a bandage over your tattoo. After a few hours, you can remove it. You should ask your artist for specifics about how long to wait.
Once the bandage comes off, you’ll probably notice fluid oozing from the tattoo. This is blood, plasma (the clear part of blood), and some extra ink. It’s normal. Your skin will also be red and sore. It might feel slightly warm to the touch.
With clean hands, wash the tattoo with warm water and a fragrance-free soap. Apply a petroleum ointment. Leave the bandage off so the tattoo can heal.
While your tattoo heals, you should:
wear sun-protective clothing whenever you go outside
call your tattoo artist or doctor if you have any signs of infection or other problems
cover your tattoo with sunblock until it’s fully healed
scratch or pick at the tattoo
wear tight clothing over the tattoo
go swimming or immerse your body in water (showers are fine)
Keep it clean. Wash your skin daily with a gentle, unscented soap.
Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water to keep your skin moisturized.
Watch what you wear. Wear SPF clothing so the sun won’t fade your tattoo. Avoid scratchy fabrics, such as wool, which can damage the art.
Avoid excess weight gain or loss. You could stretch out or distort the tattoo.