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Wondering how to look after your new tattoo? We ask the experts


By Hannah Hillyer
06th Jul 2022
Wondering how to look after your new tattoo? We ask the experts

Every tattoo shop will give you slightly different advice on tattoo aftercare so we wanted to ask two experts for the basics on what you should be doing post-inking.

So you’ve got a new tattoo and the first thing you want to do is show it off to the world, yes? You’ve probably spent a lot of money on it and it’s more than likely going to be on your body for the rest of your life so you really need to look after it, especially for the first two weeks as it heals.

Niamh Coughlan: @niamhcoughlantattoo

What products do you recommend?

  • The cream I would use would be Bepanthen nappy rash cream which is for babies. Some people may not like using this because of the texture but if it’s good enough for a baby’s bum it’s good enough for us.
  • Alternatives to Bepanthen nappy rash cream are Tattoo Goo and Hustle Butter. They are sold in some tattoo studios or you can buy them online.
  • My go-to soap is Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar by Dove.

 

How best to look after your tattoo?

Every artist/shop will tell you something completely different about aftercare. As you get more tattoos you will understand your body more and how it heals, so you can try different ways and find out your preferred method. The way I tell customers to heal tattoos is the way I heal mine.

  • After getting tattooed I leave the cling film on until I get home; no more than 3-4 hours.
  • I wash my tatoo with warm soapy water. No shower gels and no scented soaps; the more natural the better.
  • Wash it and pat it dry with a clean towel and then apply the Bepanthen. Put a thin layer of it over the tattoo – by thin I mean so you can still see the colour of the tattoo. After that, wrap it again with cling film.
  • Repeat this twice a day for the next three days, every morning and night. If you do it in the morning it should last you until the evening and then again before bed.
  • On the fourth day, wash it like normal, let it air dry and from that day stop wrapping it in cling film and stop using Bepanthen. Now start moisturising it. I use E45 moisturising lotion. It works for all different skin types. Apply it 4/5 times a day whenever you feel it getting dry.
  • Continue doing this every day until it’s healed. I always say it takes two weeks to fully settle into the skin.

Aftercare is so important and I always tell my customers to stay in touch and let me know how they are healing and if they have any questions/worries to just message me day or night, as everyone is different and we can all react to things in different ways.

Do different styles of tattoo need more attention?

Whether it’s a small minimal word tattoo or a large colour piece, follow the exact same aftercare for all tattoos.

What is the most common mistake you see people making after they get a tattoo?

Applying too much cream on the tattoo as this can sometimes clog the pores and the tattoo wouldn’t be able to breathe which can cause a rash. Another mistake people make is washing it too much! All tattoos need a little bit of bacteria to heal. If someone is washing it every few hours it can also cause irritation.

Lee Brown: Live Fast Tattoo Studio, College Street.

What products do you recommend?

  • I find non-fragranced soap is best, I just use a bar of Dove soap.
  • There are lots of creams for applying afterwards but I still use Bepanthen. I’ve heard recently that Manuka honey has healing agents in it and a lot of people use tattoo company aftercare but I just stick with what I know.

How best to look after your tattoo?

There are a million different ways it seems. One studio could tell you something and the next place could be completely different. And everybody’s body is different so what works for one person might be bad for someone else. But there are some key things that you can do to avoid infection; keeping it clean, no swimming, saunas, sun beds, steam rooms, baths, fake tan, letting pets near it etc. For at least two weeks usually.

Do different styles of tattoo need more attention?

At the end of the day, a foreign pigment is not meant to be in our skin, so the body is constantly trying to get rid of it. I guess you should use the same amount of care for every type and size of tattoo, but some styles are a lot heavier on the skin and the more the skin is worked with needles, then the more open it becomes to infection, it’s basically a sponge that can soak up bacteria.

What is the most common mistake you see people making after they get a tattoo?

If people are having a problem with their tattoo, let’s say it’s scabbing up and itchy, if you pick the scab it will pull the ink out and leave a gap. Usually, you can tell if a tattoo has been picked at because a client will come in poking it with dirty hands saying they weren’t at it, and I’m just thinking “You just picked it in right front of me.”