Getting a new tattoo is an exciting experience that allows you to adorn your body with meaningful art. However, the process leaves you with essentially an open wound that requires proper aftercare as it heals. Keeping your new tattoo looking vibrant and fresh long-term necessitates a skin-friendly approach. Using medical grade skincare and following best practices can help you heal your new ink properly and keep it looking its best.
Preparing for a Tattoo
When preparing for a new tattoo, focus on getting your body ready by keeping your skin healthy and moisturized. Drink plenty of water in the days leading up to your appointment to stay hydrated. Eat a balanced diet high in nutrients like vitamin C and zinc to support wound healing. Avoid blood thinning medications or supplements like aspirin, ibuprofen, omega-3s, or alcohol, as they can increase bleeding and trauma to the skin.
Additionally, follow any pre-procedure guidelines from your tattoo artist. This may involve cleansing the skin and avoiding certain lotions prior to your appointment. If you’re taking acne medications like isotretinoin (accutane), notify your artist, as you cannot be tattooed until after fully completing the course due to impaired wound healing. Also, a note from the estheticians is that tattooed skin cannot undergo laser procedures without risk of damage, so get any laser hair removal or skin rejuvenation done prior. Consult your skincare professional about treatments you may want to get before being tattooed.
Healing Your New Tattoo
Once you get your new ink, proper aftercare is crucial. Your tattoo artist will likely bandage the area with a semi-permeable film like Saniderm. This protective layer allows waste products and plasma to weep out while keeping the tattoo clean and moist. Leave it on for around 3-4 days, only removing sooner if fluid builds up underneath. Carefully remove the Saniderm in the shower by gently peeling up an edge and pulling from that like you're removing a command strip from the wall.
Gently cleanse the tattoo 3-6 times per day using a mild, fragrance-free cleanser to wash away crusts and plasma without irritating the skin. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry with a clean paper towel. Apply a thin layer of a gentle moisturizer like dermal repair body cream to hydrate and protect the tattoo. You can also use a healing balm to then lock in that hydration. Most tattoo artists will recommend cetaphil & aquaphor for cost efficiency, however it's best to opt for medical grade skincare products designed for sensitive post-procedure skin for the best results.
During the day, then cover the tattoo with a mineral SPF 30 or higher to prevent sun damage which can fade the ink, I use extreme protect. At night, then apply the healing balm to reinforce the moisture barrier. Expect some scabbing and peeling around days 4-7. Do not scratch or pick these areas to avoid disrupting ink settling. Regular tattoo getters know gentle slapping can help relieve the itching sensation, though I don’t know if that's really “recommended”.
Supplement your aftercare with red light therapy, which supports wound healing by stimulating skin cells. Sapien members have free access to our LED bar, and can reach out to the spa if they’d prefer to schedule LED when we have an open room for privacy, depending on the placement of the tattoo. You should also avoid blood thinners, vigorous activity, sun, and submerging your new tattoo until it fully heals. Get personalized guidance by booking a consultation with an experienced skincare professional at Sapien Skin & Beauty.
Maintaining Your Tattoo
Once healed after 3-4 weeks, continue caring for your tattoo to keep it looking vibrant. Avoid harsh active skincare ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or retinoids, as these can cause premature fading or blurring of the ink. Stick to gentle cleansers and lightweight moisturizers applied sparingly to the tattooed area. Look for products designed for sensitive, post-procedure skin.
Diligently apply broad-spectrum SPF 30+ to prevent UV damage whenever your tattoo is exposed. Reapply every 2 hours when exposed to light. Over time, sun exposure is the biggest cause of tattoo fading and blurring. Also, refrain from scrubbing or using exfoliants on your tattoo, as this can degrade the ink over time. By being mindful of products and practicing sun protection, you can keep your tattoo looking sharp.
Caring for a new tattoo with medical grade skincare optimizes the healing process and keeps your ink vibrant long-term. Hydrating the skin properly before getting a tattoo, using gentle cleansers and moisturizers during recovery, and diligently applying SPF afterward ensures your body art matures gracefully. Protect your tattoo investment with a skin-friendly regimen tailored to this sensitive area. With proper aftercare, your meaningful new ink can remain a beautiful part of your self-expression for years to come.