This is the "standard" method and most common. We suggest this
method for those with smaller tattoos, and those that have had good results with it
in the past. Your new tattoo has been bandaged, and this should be removed after
at least four hours (but no more than 12). It is very important that your new tattoo be
protected from the sun and dirty environments, as it is a rather large open wound at
this time. You should wait to remove the bandage until you can properly clean it
with mild soap(unscented liquid dial or soft soap) and warm water. Rinse it well,
and pat it dry, then allow it to air-dry for 5-10 minutes before applying ointment.
You should apply either A&D ointment or Aquaphor regularly throughout the day,
massaging a very small amount into the skin to keep the tattoo slightly moist, but
NOT smothered. Use just enough ointment to make the tattoo slightly shiny, and
blot off any excess. For the first day or two, your tattoo will require more cleaning,
as it will still be losing a bit of fluid— this is normal. You want to make sure that the
tattoo stays clean and that extra moisture doesn't get trapped under the ointment
(hence the air-drying). The healing tattoo should never stay submerged in water
either. This means that short showers are fine, but any kind of baths or swimming is
not. We recommend washing your tattoo a couple times throughout the day, using
only mild soap(unscented liquid dial or soft soap), and rinsing and drying well.
Frequency of cleaning depends on your lifestyle —use your best judgment, but
don't overdo it.
You should only apply ointment for as many days as it takes for your tattoo to peel,
will be anywhere from three days to 1 week, depending on your body, your general
health, and the area of skin that was tattooed. When the peeling begins, the
tattooed skin will flake like sunburn—just let this happen on its own, and don't pick
at it. When the tattoo has fully entered the peeling phase you should NOT apply
any more ointment. The area will become dry and itchy, and a good hand lotion
should help with this.
The following are some problems to look out for with this method. If any "bubbling"
of your tattoo occurs, you should stop applying ointment and just let it start to peel
on its own. This bubbling is caused from moisture (usually too much ointment!)
getting trapped in your tattoo, and could lead to scabbing. If scabs develop, they
can remove the color beneath them. It is very important that they are allowed to dry
out completely, and not at any time get waterlogged. The scab will eventually fall off
on its own, and your tattoo should be fine if there werenʼt any deep cracks in it.
Also, some people develop a small allergic reaction to the antibiotic agent in A&D
ointment, which shows up as a red rash around the tattoo and disappears once the
ointment is no longer used. A small percentage of people may develop a more
serious reaction, and may require medical attention, so we suggest the use of
This is the less conventional method, and tends to work well for larger
tattoos, as well as tattoos in awkward areas that will be covered with clothing, as
this can cause irritation. If you find that your tattoos have healed poorly in the past,
we strongly suggest this method. You should remove your bandage, as in method
1, but you will need NO ointment, just plastic wrap. After washing, rinsing, and
thoroughly drying, you will want to completely cover the tattoo in plastic wrap (but
not too much of the surrounding area), and use NO ointment.
With this method, you will need to keep the tattoo completely covered with plastic
wrap 24 hrs a day, for as long as it takes to peel—usually 3 to 5 days. You will want
to clean your tattoo 3 to 4 times a day (every 4 to 6 hours), and change the plastic
wrap each time. We suggest the use of medical tape to hold the plastic wrap in
place, as you don't want to over-wrap the area, causing you to sweat more than
This method, like method 1, has its precautions. As mentioned before, moisture can
be very detrimental to the healing process, and too much plastic wrap on the
surrounding untattooed skin—or not changing the wrap often enough—can lead to
development of a moisture rash. This will appear as bright red irritation and lots of
tiny pimples around the effected area, and will also be very painful. Should this
happen, do not re-wrap the tattoo or try to medicate it—instead let it dry out and
peel on its own. You will also notice for the first few days of this method that your
tattoo will lose a bit more fluid than normal, and you may need to change the wrap
Without the use of a healing agent/antibiotic ointment in this method, you'll need to
make sure to keep the area clean. We DO NOT recommend a combination of
methods 1 and 2. However, everyone heals a bit differently, and you'll have to find
what works best for you within each method. Don't worry, any tattoo can be touched
up if things go wrong while healing and you end up losing some color.
We wish to strongly reiterate that your new tattoo is an open wound, and needs to
be treated as one. Engaging in actions such as swimming, tanning, removing the
bandage early, and general disregard for it, is just asking for trouble. If you are
careless, you may be surprised how easily it can get infected or scab up and lose
color. Give your tattoo the time and attention it needs to properly heal. It's going to
be on you for the rest of your life, and it only takes a week or two of your attention to
ensure it looks good forever.