If, like a huge chunk of the population, you are interested in tattoos, then chances are you will have heard it said that aftercare begins the moment you gingerly step off the chair after sitting in the same (horrendously uncomfortable) position for hours on end.
Once your new body art has been awkwardly bound in clingfilm and is oozing with plasma (TMI?), you'll then hopefully be ladled full of helpful healing advice from the experts before making the aching journey home to begin your aftercare regime.
But the thing no one really tells you before you get your first tattoo (or after), is that the aftercare process never really ends...
How to Take Care of an Old Tattoo to Keep It Fresh
- First things first, you're going to want to find yourself an intense moisturising cream to slather on your tattoo - preferably twice daily. While there are plenty of tattoo specific lotions available on the market, I have never diverted from Palmers Cocoa Butter which is cruelty-free, completely affordable and works wonders on both fresh and healed tattoos.
- Drinking lots of water might sound like unusual advice when it comes to tattoo aftercare. But moisturising your tattoo isn't going to help all that much if you aren't hydrating yourself from within. Water helps rid our body of toxins and drinking enough can give skin a more radiant glow, thus making your tattoos appear brighter.
- Despite what many people believe, exfoliating your tattoo is not going to cause fading. On the contrary, exfoliating removes the build-up of dead skin cells and leaves your tattoo looking brighter. Invest in a Glycolic body scrub for the best results.
- Remember we talked about avoiding direct sunlight while healing your tattoo? Well, even healed tattoos can be damaged by spending too much time in the sun. To avoid exposure, apply an SPF rich moisturising lotion and sun cream or wear protective clothing.
- Weight loss or gain is not always within our control and there are plenty of life factors which play into bodily changes, but extreme weight fluctuations can cause tattoos to distort so it's best to try and avoid this from happening if possible.
- If your tattoo reaches a point where it has faded considerably for whatever reason, you can go back and get it touched up. This involves re-inking your entire design and essentially bringing it back to life.
Healing Your Tattoo
Fresh tattoos are essentially just cool-looking wounds and, like any wound, they need to be kept clean and dry if you want them to heal properly. Since the overall outcome of your tattoo depends heavily on how well you look after it during this stage, it's vital you take this step seriously.
While everyone swears by their own methods of healing that work well for them, the best advice I can give to newbies is to follow the instructions given to you by your artist.
But if you're unsure, here are some key points to keep in mind when caring for your new ink from a fellow tattooed person:
- Once home, you can remove the cling-film that has been protecting your artwork.
- Gently wash your fresh tattoo after a few hours with unscented, antibacterial liquid soap.
- Gently dab your tattoo dry. Be sure to avoid rough towels or cloths.
- Apply a thin, even layer of unscented moisturising cream.
- Repeat the washing/moisturising process between 3 and 5 times each day.
- I repeat, keep your tattoo clean and dry. No dunking it in the bath or swimming pools, unless your aim is to get an infection.
- Embrace your inner vampire and stay out of direct sunlight.
- Resist the overwhelming urge to pick the flaking skin or scratch your tattoo.
When a Tattoo Looks Dull or Faded
When you're caring for a new tattoo (especially if you've never done it before), time can often feel like it's dragging, but after two weeks has passed, your new ink should look pretty much healed.
You might also have noticed that your tattoo has taken on a dull and slightly clouded appearance, but don't be disheartened! All this means is that there are deeper layers of skin still repairing themselves, so don't give up on the routine you adopted after you first got your tattoo.
Long-Term Aftercare for Tattoos
Once your tattoo has fully healed, you can begin shifting your focus to maintaining its appearance. After all, the whole point of getting a tattoo is for it to be bright, eye-catching, and attractive to look at.
Unfortunately for us body art lovers, fading is an unavoidable fact of tattoo aging. However, there are many ways to prevent this from happening and keep your tattoo looking as fresh as possible for as long as possible.
Thankfully, this life-long care requires nowhere near the amount of effort and should be easy enough to slot into your daily life.
I hope this article has provided you with some tips on caring for your tattoos in the long-term, but if you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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