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Caring for your tattoo starts at your first session, and will determine how well it heals and ages.  Improper cleaning and aftercare can lead to complications like scabbing, ink pulling from the skin, faded color, infection, or worse.  While every artist has their own aftercare instructions and should explain them at the time of each session, it's important to follow their preferred method while applying some common sense.  Below are my own recommendations for tattoo aftercare based on a collaboration of personal and other tattoo professionals' experiences:


  • If the tattoo is covered in an adhesive bandage before you leave, keep it in place for 24-48 hours

  • Once the bandage comes off, keep it clean and lightly moisturized throughout healing period (usually 2-3 times a day for 3 weeks)

  • Cover if necessary to prevent contact with other surfaces, but generally try to let tattoo breathe

  • Avoid direct sunlight for at least 2 weeks while the tattoo heals

  • Don't submerge area under water or make direct contact with any unclean surfaces for at least 2 weeks

    *I offer .75oz tins of regular all-natural Vitalitree salve for $10.00 at the studio.  Recommended alternatives are Aquiphor or A&E ointment.*

Dressing the tattoo:

  • A clear adhesive bandage will typically be applied before you leave the studio.  This is recommended to be kept on for 24-48 hours, and removed after that time if it hasn't begun to peel off.

  • If you need to cover your tattoo over the following few days to avoid potential contact/exposure to unsanitary situations, a sterile non-adhesive bandage can be a temporary alternative through the first week of healing; however, be sure to remove the bandage as soon as possible as your tattoo needs to breathe at this point.

Cleaning the tattoo:

  • After the adhesive bandage comes off, continue to gently clean your tattoo with antibacterial liquid soap.  Avoid exfoliating, heavily perfumed or dyed soaps - these can sometimes cause burning, abrasions and discomfort around the tattoo.  If you normally bathe with bar soap, use a fresh bar that isn't shared to avoid passing bacteria to and from the tattoo and soap bar.

  • Gently pat dry with paper towels; avoid bath towels, wash cloths, luffas or other porous materials that hold bacteria and moisture.  When your tattoo is dry, use clean hands to apply a very thin layer of your aftercare ointment.  Dab off extra ointment to remove any build-up of the product on your tattoo (it should not look shiny, wet, or soggy).

  • Repeat these steps a couple times each day as needed.

  • This should continue throughout the entire healing process of your tattoo (generally 2-3 weeks, but can vary between each person).

Other things to keep in mind:

  • DO NOT share ointments - this transfers bacteria between the tattoo wounds, leading to infection and other health issues.

  • Over-moisturizing will cause scabs - if your moisturizer is shiny, slick or wet, dab it dry and let it breathe.

  • Wear loose clothing while your tattoo heals to avoid sticking, chafing, and irritation.

  • Your tattoo should start to peel after 3 or 4 days, and will most likely itch from healing tissue.  LEAVE IT ALONE and do not pick off peeling skin or scabs.  Doing so will cause your tattoo to bleed and pull ink out.

  • Try to avoid direct contact with pet dander, chemicals (chlorine, tanning lotion, hair products, etc.), younger children/toddlers/infants, razors, brushes, and so on.

  • Once fully healed, you're encouraged to keep your tattoo looking vibrant by protecting them with clothes, moisturizers, and staying out of the sun or using sun screen.  DO NOT use any sun screen until the tattoo is completely healed (generally a few weeks later).

Important to remember:

  • Keep your self, home, and work environments clean to promote healing the tattoo wound!

  • Redness, swelling and minor discomfort are expected for fresh tattoos; this can sometimes last several days.  If you feel like your tattoo's acting out of the ordinary, contact me with reference pictures or stop by in person (appointment requested) so I can take a look.

  • If you are concerned you may have an infection or allergic reaction to the tattoo, please don't hesitate to contact your primary care physician.  Let me know as soon as possible of any diagnosed infection, allergic or adverse reaction resulting directly from the tattoo so that I can investigate further and take appropriate steps.

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