- Remove the bandage in 1 hour (longer is fine, if necessary. I’d prefer you wait a few extra hours than to take it off in a gas station bathroom).
- Wash your tattoo thoroughly with hot water (notice I said HOT, not scalding), an antibacterial hand soap (I prefer Dial® Gold Antibacterial Liquid Hand Soap) and just your hand. The tattoo should feel smooth when washed properly. If it feels rough or bumpy, it’s because the dried blood, plasma and pigments have not been thoroughly washed off (it might be necessary to gently exfoliate with a clean wash-cloth on your first washing).
- Gently pat it dry with a clean towel or a paper towel (do NOT rub). I like using paper towels for this, as I can see when there’s no longer any blood, plasma or pigment continuing to ooze from the tattoo.
- Apply a THIN layer of Aquaphor® Healing Ointment (I am not merely suggesting you use this product, this is exactly the product that you will use if you care about the tattoo you just spent your hard-earned money on).
- Wrap your tattoo with a clean piece of plastic food wrap and tape it up.
- Repeat this process every 4-6 hours for at least the next 24 hours (you can do this for up to 3 days, but I find it excessive for most tattoos, however, if your tattoo continues to ooze heavily after the first 24 hours, it may be necessary).
Now that you’ve survived all of that, it’s time to remove the plastic food wrap for the last time and wash that tattoo up again with HOT water, an antibacterial hand soap, and just your hand, then pat it dry and leave it alone.
Some things to keep in mind as your tattoo heals:
- Keep your new tattoo clean and dry. Wash it once or twice a day with warm water, antibacterial hand soap and just your hand. Gently pat it dry with a clean towel or a paper towel (again, do NOT rub).
- As it heals, your tattoo will begin to flake and peel, when this begins to happen you can apply a THIN layer of fragrance-free/petroleum-free lotion 1 to 2 times a day (I like Cetaphil® Moisturizing Lotion). Just make sure your tattoo and hands are clean before you apply any lotion.
- Do NOT pick or scratch your tattoo. (Seriously, don’t do it!) Flaking, peeling and even scabbing is a natural part of the healing process.
- Do NOT soak your tattoo in water while it’s healing (You can shower, but you CAN NOT take a bath, get in a hot tub, or go swimming in the ocean, a pool or river, etc.).
- Keep your tattoo out of direct sunlight while it’s healing. After your tattoo has healed, always use sunblock when in the sun, preferably 45 SPF or greater.