A tattoo isn't just art and self expression. It’s a semi-medical-esque procedure too since the artist uses a needle to deposit ink underneath the skin. A tattoo is an open wound, it's vulnerable to scarring and infections.
Proper tattoo aftercare can prevent complications and ensure that your art and skin heals well. Every tattoo artist will suggest a slightly different process, but here are the important key points recommended by artist Jamie Kan of Jamie Kan Tattoo.
1. If your artist uses second skin, you can leave this on for 3-4 days but no more than 7. The length of time will depend on how much fluid your tattoo weeps which can affect the adhesion. If your artist uses plastic wrap, you should remove the film within 4 hours.
2. You may shower as usual. Do not use shower accessories or products to exfoliate or scrub the tattooed area regardless if you have second skin on. When drying, pat the area down instead of wiping and avoid soaking in a bath for at least 1 week.
3. Keep the tattoo out of the sun as much as possible. Although the bandage will mildly protect it from light exposure, it is best to avoid direct sunlight over the duration of healing time.
4. Stay out of public water for at least 1 week after your session. (ie. hot tub, sauna, hot yoga, pool, lakes/ocean etc.) You may have to avoid water for a longer duration if your tattoo has not dried out. You can continue to exercise but it's best avoid activities where you'll become drenched in sweat.
5. When it is time to remove your second skin bandage, peel it back slowly until fully removed. You can do this in the shower, the humidity helps lift the adhesive.
6. You may then clean the tattoo gently with warm water, and antibacterial soap. Do not re-wrap the tattoo afterwards.
7. Peeling and itching may occur. This is all normal. When your tattoo feels dry, apply a thin layer of tattoo aftercare. Apply 2-3 times per day. Do not over moisturize, keeping the skin too wet will allow pores to remain open and become more prone to infections.
8. Do not scratch, itch or pick at the tattoo. This will do damage to your skin and the work itself. Once your tattoo is fully healed, (6-8 weeks) don't forget to protect it with sunscreen whenever you'll be exposed to sunlight for more than 15min.