I want to preface this post by saying that these are MY answers. This is what I've done with any and all of my 11 tattoos I've collected since I started working at CleanO2.
Any and every good artist will answer any and every question a client can have. And I’ve asked my share of questions. From this I like to think I've learned a few things and I would love to share them here. But, like I said, these answers are based on my experiences.
Overall Thoughts on the First Tattoo
Tattoos can be incredibly scary. I personally would say that the first tattoo will always be the most painful.
Of course, it depends on where it is, some parts of the body being more sensitive than others. Joints, anywhere the skin moves a lot.
You will feel it.
Every person experiences the tattoo process differently. For me, it’s gotten a lot easier with time. When waiting for an appointment the nerves can build up this crazy image of pain and yet by the time you sit down you just can't wait to start! I have a nice little piece on the base of the back of my neck, professionally placed to cover up if need be.
This was a very fun piece for me. I had absolutely no idea what sensations I was walking into, but once I was in my place and my artist (the immaculately skilled Aaron Corbin currently residing at Radioblock Tattoo in downtown Calgary.)
What Are the Options for Bandages
The one piece of information I would be remiss if I didn’t pass along, is the bandages. Generally, there will be two options for bandages.
Of course, the bandage recommended can vary depending on how much work was done.
The more colour and shading your tattoo includes, the more skin that was broken and needs to heal.
Tattoos aren't exactly the most natural process. Your body will pry and push out some of this ink and that’s a term in the healing process called ‘weeping’. Tattoo weeping is incredibly common.
As mentioned, the more work put in and the more ink used, the more excess there will be for your skin to sweat out.
With this in mind, I enjoy a loose wrapped/taped bandage, this allows for breathing and airflow which is crucial in the early days of the healing process.
The first couple days are arguably the most important, and the most uncomfortable.
Another bandage option is called SaniDerm. This is essentially medical-grade cling wrap that is self-adhesive. No taping required ideally. But the downside of this is a result of the weeping. Your skin will push out plasma and ink. This will become trapped under the SaniDerm and can result in a large liquid blister.
To speak from experience; it felt like there was an army of agitated ants stuck under the bandage that lived for nothing more than gnawing on my freshly tattooed skin.
With that in mind, Bandages feel like the best option for the healing process.
When Should I Moisturize My New Tattoo
Ideally, your skin is probably going to love some good-healthy moisture as soon as you can, within reason.
Your artist will tell you how long to keep your bandage on. Depending on the size of your new tattoo, it could be two hours minimum, or maybe it will be a day or more. So many variables to keep in mind.
But you should be moisturizing once you’ve successfully cleaned your tattoo for the first time.
When Should I Wash My New Tattoo
This is something that will vary depending on the size of your pretty-new-piece. The short answer is going to be a handful of hours after your appointment has finished and you’ve made your way home.
Your artist will tell you the timeframe for the bandage removal and cleaning. But the answer will usually be to wash it the same day.
Should You Moisturize The Day Of The Tattoo
Of course. It's always a great idea to moisturize regularly in the time leading up to your appointment, but afterwards you should be careful about what products you use. It’s ideal to use something unscented.
Your skin will be extra sensitive as there are going to be several layers of broken skin which could be easily agitated by some ingredients used.
What Happens If You Moisturize Too Much Or Too Soon
Moisturizing too much means that your skin isn’t going to have enough room to breathe. This will hinder the healing process a great deal. A new tattoo can be pretty scary, but it will eventually be okay.
You don’t need to leave a two-millimetre layer of moisturizer on your skin to moisturize properly.
Maybe you think it'll help with the pain? Unfortunately, tattoos just hurt sometimes. Its broken skin with a foreign substance underneath. It’s going to be weird.
Your eyes can really open up to how much your skin moves and shifts and swifts in everyday life. (arm/elbow/knee pits, joints. These are areas you'll really notice.) But you don’t need to moisturize this any more than you would anywhere else.
Can You Just Use Moisturizer
I'm sure you could, but consider this; if you suffered a grievous flesh-wound, wouldn’t you want some antibiotics to deal with whatever might try and find a way in? Big or small, deep or shallow, a cut is a cut.
A tattoo is a beautifully coloured and designed patch of broken skin, right up until your skin stops flaking away.
There will obviously be a point where your skin begins to heal. When washing your tattoos, you’ll notice less plasma on first rinsing the skin. This means you're getting over the healing-hump and on to the hydration!
How To Shower With A New Tattoo
Everyone loves pulling off a bandage. Whether it’s the taped-on bandages, or the saniderm. There's never really a good way to remove a bandage.
Some would say rip it off slowly, but it’s also more than likely stuck to your skin due to the plasma and ink weeping out from your nice new fresh tattoo.
If this is the case, I find it helps a bit to soak the bandage and try to peel it off as slowly as you can.
This is something that depends on you. Some of us like warm water, others cold. I would recommend starting off a bit cooler, just to ease your skin.
When considering what a tattoo is, you realize that it's a big beautiful open wound. Depending on lines or style or size or colour and shading, you could have a lot of broken skin, and it needs to heal.
Part of that is your body heating up in the area that needs to fight off whatever infection could be trying to form. It’s helpful to give your skin a bit of cool water just for a bit of comfort.
Your nice new spot of broken skin is going to be extra sensitive. This means that it wouldn’t be the best idea to use super-fragrant soaps. At least this is what I’ve learned. I like to use something simple and scent free.
The Cleano2 Eco Aloe soap is perfect I find. It has no synthetic or added fragrances. Any scent it gives off comes from the coconut milk and aloe vera additives. Between those ingredients and the well-balanced blend of oils that make up the base, it’s a bar that’s made for sensitive skin with the goal of hydration and a cleaner earth to boot!