How to care for your tattoo

The healing of your tattoo is the final aspect of your art piece.  The opinions and advice given are endless.  there are more "Experts" out there than tattoos.  Since we guarantee our work, we ask you to follow our advice.  Just as with a psychiatrist, you’ll probably never get the same advice or instructions from different artists.  after many years of combined experience, you will find this information very beneficial in healing your Unique Ink tattoo.

A tattoo normally takes anywhere from 7 to 14 days to look fully healed depending on the type, style, size and placement.  The truth is that it can really take up to a month for a tattoo to be fully healed below the surface of the skin and for your body’s natural healing abilities to lock the ink in completely.  Yes, all of these things can and will make a difference.  There is no “idiot proof” method, unfortunately, however, if you take the time to read the following, you will stand a much better chance of healing your tattoo without any problems to ensure that it looks as good as possible.


When your tattoo artist finishes your tattoo they will clean off your tattoo with some green soap, water, and maybe even a little witch hazel prior to taking a picture for you.  they then should apply a very thin coat of A+D® Ointment or some type of clear anti-bacterial, and bandage you.  A word of caution:  If you see a shop using paper towels, Scotch tape, or masking tape during the bandaging process, RUN!!!!

Sometimes your tattoo can be in a difficult spot or too large to use a standard bandage, so clear plastic film is used.  The plastic wrap will be held in place using medical tape.  If you are a person that has allergies to the adhesives make sure that you let your tattoo artist know or bring your own tape.  If plastic wrap is used, remove it after 2-4 hours. 

**If you have left your bandage on too long or the tattooist used an improper bandage and it is stuck to your skin, DO NOT pull it off.  Get in the shower and soak it off with cool or lukewarm water.  Doing this will minimize any damage to the skin and the tattoo itself.**

A+D® Ointment is what most tattoo artists will use during the tattoo process.  You may be familiar with this for use on diaper rash, so it is an excellent product to start with.  It starts the healing of your tattoo, it also works as a lubricant for the tattooist while working on you. 

Removing the bandage

After the 2 to 4 hours, it’s time to remove the bandage and show all of your friends and loved ones the new art that you have collected.  We recommend cleaning your tattoo first.  The only thing that you want to use is a non-scented liquid anti-bacterial soap.  We recommend clear liquid, anti-bacterial Dial.  When washing, you want to make sure that you are using your clean hand to do the washing.  avoid any scrubbing or using a loofah as this can cause the ink lift from the tattoo.  remove any druid fluids, blood they may have accumulated, and any old ointment.  If you have to use a soft washcloth, make sure that you just pat it and do not scrub.  If you are washing in the shower, make sure that you are using luke warm water and not hot.  DO NOT let the water beat on your new tattoo, you will also find this can be painful while healing. let the water hit above it and run off for a short period of time.  The idea is to get in and get out.  NO soaking in the tub.  

cautionary note:  Hot water will can hurt, and heat and/or steam will open the pores and can leak out some of the coloring of your tattoo and cause an un-even or blotchy end product.  It can also make it much easier for germs to get into your skin.  Many artists actually recommend at the end of showering or washing that you use cold water or dripping cold compress on the tattoo for a minute or so to close the pores as much as possible thus effectively sealing it.

Once the washing is complete, use a soft clean towel to gently pat the tattoo dry.  Now it’s time to show off your masterpiece.  Allow your tattoo to remain dry for awhile exposed to the air.  This will help the healing process.


An additional word of advice:  Don’t lean on things with your new tattoo. restaurants, bars, tables and walls are all full of bacteria!  Your new tattoo shouldn’t come into contact with anything.


What to put on your new Tattoo

We recommend and encourage the use of h2Ocean during the healing process, conveniently sold at our shop.  This product has been time-tested and proven over years of experience to be effective for safely healing tattoos.

If our h2Ocean is out of stock we only recommend 2 over the counter products available at any local drug store.  These are Lubriderm or Aquaphor. That is it!

You may have heard recommendations for other products like Neosporin, Curel, Cocoa Butter, Noxzema, Bacitracin…. the list goes on and on.  While some of these products will work, many pose potential risks. 

Neosporin has a lot of zinc, it also contains petrolatum which promotes the healing too fast and can pull the ink particles out of your skin instead of allowing your body to lock in the ink at the cellular level.

Always wash your hands prior to caring for your new tattoo!!

All that you are trying to do is to moisturize your skin and keep it clean.  Take a small amount of your product and gently rub it all of the way in.  Your tattoo should have a slight sheen to it, meaning a very thin coat!!  Do Not cake or gob it on!! Your tattoo and skin need to breath to heal properly and quickly. 

if you use the ointment for an extended period of time, it can produce an adverse reaction due to the skin absorbing too much of the active ingredients.  The skin can break out in a rash or get pimply.  If this happens, stop use immediately!  we would recommend only using it to start the healing process for 1-2 days and then at that point switching to a non-medicated, non-scented lotion.


**We guarantee our work, but if you use something other than the recommended products, you use it at your own risk and void our guarantee.**


Care during the first 2 weeks

The first week of taking care of your tattoo is the most important, especially the first 2 to 3 days.  You now know what to put on it, but there are a few other things that you can do to ensure that your new tattoo looks great for many years to come.

  • SLEEPING:  The first thing to consider is your first couple of nights sleep.  Many tattoo enthusiasts have a separate set of sheets for when they get tattooed.  Many wake up in the morning to find a fresh imprinted stain of their tattoo on those expensive nice Egyptian sheets, that won’t come out.  It is important here to remind you that you shouldn’t re-bandage your tattoo! Again, your skin needs to breath to promote and speed the healing process.  So, if you get a tattoo on your back, you need to sleep on your belly for a few days or visa-a-versa.  If you can sleep with your tattoo exposed, that would be best.  If not, you can place a clean thin towel between you and the sheets. If in the morning your sheets are stuck to you, follow the same instructions as a stuck bandage, don’t peel the sheet off, take the sheet with you to the shower and wet it off with cool or lukewarm water.

  • DON’T PICK SCABS:  Over the next couple of day, your tattoo will look good and any redness should go away.  Then you will notice that it will start to look duller and can even form a little white haze to it. This happens typically to larger or solid color or tribal pieces. You may see some scabbing form as well.  This is all normal.  Heavy scabbing is not normal and needs to be watched closely!  One of the most important things to remember…. DO NOT pick at any scabbing! This is extremely important in maintaining the integrity of the work.  Picking scabs will remove the ink and scar your skin.  You will see the skin begin to peel some, like a mild sunburn. This is normal. You may also experience some color coming off while putting ointment on or during the cleaning process; again, totally normal and nothing to be concerned about.  This whole scenario can last over the next 4 to 10 days. You will then see the color coming back clean and clear and your tattoo will be in the end stages of healing.  By day 14, your new art piece should look fully healed.  You will want to continue to put your lotion on until there is no shine to the skin at all.  This is also the indication that tattooists look for when doing multiple sessions on larger tattoos, signaling that it is ok to tattoo that area again.

  • CLOTHING:  Clothing can be a big factor in your healing process as well. Depending on where you get your tattoo, you will need to wear loose fitting clothes.  Tight fitting clothes keep that from happening.  If your tattoo is forming a light scab and you have some tight fitting clothes rubbing on it, that can cause problems in the healing. It can cause scaring and/or light spots in the tattoo.  Bikini lines and bra strap areas are another thing to be mindful of if your tattoo is in one of these regions. Foot tattoos are another example, ladies. You will need to go shoeless for close to a week.  Socks, shoes, and boots are breeding ground for bacteria, and rubbing is a big issue as well.  Your clothing can be a big help with issues at work or the sun.  Remember you really don’t want to re-bandage a tattoo, but if you are in a working environment that risks contact with harmful chemicals, a germ-filled situation, or just things coming in constant contact with your tattoo, loose fitting clothes can be your best friend.  If that isn’t possible, then a loose bandage, put on at the last moment and removed at the earliest possible moment may be the last ditch option.  If you do have to take this route, make sure that you wash the tattoo after removing the bandage, let air out to dry for a little while and re-apply your lotion.

  • THE SUN:  The sun is probably the single worst enemy and destroyer of tattoos!!  During the initial healing process, you absolutely need to keep your new tattoo out of the sun, as it will damage the skin further and can cause all sorts of problems from scaring your tattoo to lightening it up, uneven healing etc. This comes back to the early comments about clothing, if you are in a job that keeps you outside. Use loose fitting clothes to keep your tattoo out of the sun, and as a last resort use a sterile non-stick bandage. Tanning beds are an absolute no-no, even with a bandage covering the tattoo, as the UV rays can penetrate bandages and towels.  Once your tattoo is fully healed and there is no shine to it whatsoever, then you can relax some, but you have just paid a lot of money for that new piece of art, and wouldn’t it be nice to keep it that way for many years to come.  We recommend always using an SPF once healed and entering the sun to keep your tattoo from fading over time with sun exposure. 

  • OTHER ACTIVITIES: You really want to avoid swimming of any type as well. The ocean, lakes, rivers are full of creepy crawlies, amoebas, and bacteria that you don’t need an infection from.  Swimming pools are full of chlorine, which again is not good for the tattoo. Highly strenuous activities and contact sports would be another example of things to avoid for your initial healing time.  Excessive sweating, saunas, steam baths, and gym workouts all need to take a back seat for a little bit. I hope by now you have got the picture, and if you don’t, then maybe you should refrain from getting tattooed.

  • INFECTIONS:  This is probably the last thing that we should talk about and maybe one of the most important. While this isn’t very common, it is possible and you need to be knowledgeable about it.  The first thing is not get a tattoo at someone’s house. There is probably a reason they aren’t working in a shop. Their equipment is not being inspected by the Health Department, the list goes on and on.  But heck, they’re cheap or better yet, free…right.  It’s your life and I guess that you are willing to accept the risk of HIV, Hepatitis, MRSA, Staph. infection, Mycobacterium Mycobacterium haemophilum or Chelonae, it goes on and on, all to save a few bucks.  All of our equipment is autoclaved and spore tested to ensure your safety, and all of our artists have attended Communicable Disease Certification courses.  If you walk into a parlor and it’s not clean, turn right back around and walk out!  How can you tell if a tattoo is infected? Some key signs of an infection are a red haze surrounding the tattoo after a few days and it may be accompanied by a white haze over the tattoo, extreme scabbing, yellow or green oozing or puss, bad smell, heat in the area, excessive swelling, indentations in the surface of the tattoo, or lines of red or black running away from the tattoo.  The best way to avoid an infection is to follow the guidelines that I provided for you. That being said, it is possible for you do everything right and your tattooist to do everything right and you can still find yourself getting and infection. Heck most of us have had a friend or relative that was in the hospital or went and had something done at the doctors office and got an infection, but you can minimize the dangers by being diligent with keeping your tattoo clean and following the previous advice.  If you are unsure or in doubt about having some sort of problem, be sure to contact your tattoo artist right away! Your artist is not a doctor, so if you feel like you have a problem, then consult you physician immediately for diagnosis and get some antibiotics.

  • RED DYE REACTION:  There is also a small percentage of people that can get something called “Red Dye Reaction.” This is generally for people that have high skin sensitivity.  If you are allergic to cheap metal jewelry, this can be a sign of a potential problem. The reasoning is that cheap metal has a lot of nickel in it and the red tattoo ink has nickel in it as well. What happens is the red ink does not like to heal very well and I have even seen where craters formed in that area looking like a bad infection. If you feel that you have a nickel allergy and fall into this category, then let your artist know, and choose a different tattoo ink color or do a very small test spot and wait to finish your tattoo until you have healed.


in conclusion

I hope that these instructions have helped you, and that you follow them to heal your new piece of art work and that you will have something special to show off. You need to remember that the good Lord has made us all different, and as such, all of our skin is different, and therefore we heal differently.  You know your body and how it heals better than anyone else, and while one thing may work for you, it may work differently for another.  These are simply guidelines that will help you should you decide that they make sense to you. I thank you for your time and look forward to seeing you at Unique Ink Tattoo in Jacksonville North Carolina for your next piece of art that you add to your collection.


Unique People Deserve Unique Ink