Before having a tattoo done it’s essential you know your responsibilities so that the piece heals and remains properly.


It doesn’t matter how accurate a tattoo artist works, you need to take care of your tattoo in order to make sure the piece is going to heal and last.

Caring for a new tattoo is your responsibility from the very moment you get out of the tattooist's chair, right through the rest of your life.


The tattoo aftercare is perhaps the most important aspect of your tattoo journey. Post tattoo care should not be taken lightly - you need to know how to take care of a tattoo as best as possible. It is vital that you treat your new tattoo care routine with the respect it requires in order for your ink to look as crisp, sharp and colorful as it possibly can for as long as you’re alive. Correct aftercare procedures ensure that the tattooed area of skin remains infection free in an environment that is perfectly set up to ensure that healing proceeds to happen as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Initial Tattoo Aftercare - The Most Important Stage

The time in which tattoo aftercare is at its most important is directly after getting the tattoo, right through until about 3 weeks afterwards when the top layers of your skin have completely healed. This time-frame is when the risk of infection is at its greatest, and is also when a tattoo’s appearance can get easily ruined through poor/lack of aftercare.

1 - Removing Your Tattoo Bandage/Wrap

Generally, it’s regarded safe for you to remove your medical wrapping (Dermalize) after 24 hours as long as you’re able to clean your tattoo immediately after removal.


GENTLY remove the wrap under the warm water shower carefully peeling off the second skin used by your artist.


After you’ve removed your wrap, your tattoo is likely to be covered in a thick gooey layer of blood, plasma, ink and lymph fluid. Don't panic! That is completely normal.

2 - Initial Clean - Tattoo Aftercare Instructions For Your Wash And Moisturising


Before cleaning your tattoo, you will want to clean your hands thoroughly to kill any bacteria present.

Proceed to gently cup lukewarm water over the area, wetting the area with your palm and fingers, NOT a rough/dirty wash towel/cloth. Ensure the water is not hot.

Once the area is wet, rub a good amount of clear/fragrance free mild antibacterial soap over the area and proceed to try and get all of the gooey and dried bits of blood and ink off of the surface. After a thorough but gentle cleanse of the area with soap, cup some more lukewarm water over the area to ensure that all remaining soap is washed away.

After washing is complete, you can either let your tattoo air-dry or you can pat it dry with a paper towel. DO NOT RUB OR SCRUB your tattoo with as this can rub some ink out of the area, always pat dry.

Once the area is COMPLETELY dry you will want to very lightly rub in some sort of specialized ointment/lotion to moisturize the area and help with healing. You will only want a very thin layer to cover the tattoo.

Summing up:

  • Clean your hands thoroughly, you don’t want any bacteria getting into the raw tattooed area.

  • Run the tap until the water is lukewarm, NOT hot. Cup the water with your hand and very gently wet the area with your palm/fingers.

  • Rub a fragrance-free mild soap over the area and make sure as much excess ink/blood/plasma has been washed away.

  • Use more water to wash away any leftover soap.

  • Allow the tattoo to dry completely, either through air drying or with a paper towel - not a dirty rough wash cloth though. Always PAT dry, do not SCRUB.

  • Apply a very thin layer of ointment to help moisturize the area and help with healing.


Repeat this whole routine three times a day until your tattoo heals completely. DON'T CLEAN IT MORE THAN THREE TIMES A DAY!!. The whole healing process can take, of course depending on the person, one to three weeks aprox. If you become obsessively over cleaning your tattoo, you are not giving the skin the necessary time space to grow up again in order to heal properly.


What NOT to do while your Tattoo is Healing


  • Pick the Scabs - After a few days, your tattoo may begin to scab over. These scabs should not be picked or pulled off under any circumstance.

  • Pick Off Peeling Skin - Once your tattoo has finished the scabbing phase, the skin will begin the peel and flake away. This flaky skin, no-matter how inviting, should not be played with, picked, or peeled off.

  • Scratch your Tattoo - This is probably the most important rule of all when it comes to caring for a new tattoo.

  • Submerge your Tattoo in Water - Most bodies of water harbour many different kinds of nasty germs and bacteria. Stay away from swimming with a new tattoo or bathing in any type of water for at least three weeks.

  • Expose your Tattoo to the Sun - If you didn't already know this, the sun is the #1 tattoo killer. You must keep your tattoo covered at all times if going outside in warm weather. During this important healing stage, the sun can swell and blister a tattoo, as well as prolong the healing times and fade the ink, so stay away from the big circle in the sky (and sunbeds too for that matter, they are just as bad in terms of UV production).

  • Re-wrap your Tattoo - Unless specifically advised by your artist, you mustn't re-wrap your tattoo once the initial wrap has been removed. Your tattoo needs to breath in order to heal properly.

  • Smother the Tattoo in Lotion/Ointment - As with the re-wrapping, if you put too much aftercare cream/lotion onto the tattoo, the thick layer of product is going to prevent the area from getting enough air and oxygen, which will affect the quality of healing. Your should only apply a very thin, barely shiny layer of lotion too your tattoo.

  • Use Petroleum-Based Products - Most of these product types are very dense and heavy. Even applying a thin layer can prevent your tattoo from breathing properly.

  • Use Fragrance/Alcohol Based Soaps to Clean the Tattoo - The main reason not to use products containing artificial fragrances is that these ingredients are highly likely to irritate the very sensitive skin at this stage of the healing process.

  • Use Abrasive or Dirty Cloths/Towels to Clean or Dry the Tattoo - Always blot the area dry with a clean paper towel, or leave the area to air-dry naturally. NEVER rub or scrub the area to clean or dry the tattoo.

  • Wear Tight-Fitting or Synthetic Clothing - Depending on the location of the tattoo, tight-fitting clothing can rub against/irritate the sensitive area. This can result in outbreaks of rashes and other symptoms such as scabs being rubs off and pieces of healing skin being pulled loose.


  • Workout/Exercise too Soon - There are a couple of reasons why you should hold back from working too hard for a couple of days after getting a tattoo.

    Firstly, getting a tattoo can sometimes effect the immune system due to the trauma carried out to your skin over long periods of time. Exercising too soon can make it more likely for you to catch an illness or for your tattoo to take longer to heal.

    Sweating can also be a problem with a brand new tattoo. As your body temperature rises with exercise, your skin pores will start to open, increasing the chance of some of your ink seeping out.

    Another problem is that gyms are naturally very dirty places. Do not let you tattoo rub against any of the equipment and make sure you wash the tattooed area well as soon as you're out of the gym.

    Finally, be careful when exercising a body part that has been tattooed over a joint. Excess joint movement underneath a new tattoo can cause rubbing and irritation.

  • Wash your Tattoo with Hot Water - Your skin is extremely sensitive during healing, and hot water running onto the tattooed area can cause irritation much easier than if the area was fully healed.

  • Use Saunas/Steam Rooms - Same as above - the heat from the steam and the humid atmosphere can really open your pores up, not only increasing the risk of ink loss but also making it easier for bacteria to enter the wounded area.

  • Touch your Tattoo with Dirty Hands - I see so many people get a brand new tattoo and proceed to rub and prod the area with their dirty grubby hands. This is an extremely bad idea as risk of infection at such an early staging of the healing process is so great.

  • Let Anybody Else Touch your Tattoo - An even worse crime than above. Do not under any circumstance let anybody else apart from your tattoo artist touch your tattoo for at least several weeks. You have no idea where their hands have been.

  • Shave the Tattooed Area - Don't shave the area for at least a few weeks after getting a new tattoo. Trying to shave within this time frame will probably cause you to shave right through a scab or a patch of peeling skin.

  • Drink Too Much Alcohol - Drinking alcohol with a new tattoo can be detrimental during the first 48 hours of healing as your tattooed area is still oozing blood and plasma - this is due to alcohol's ability to cause your blood to run thinner than usual.

Tattoo Care Instructions (to be taken in account for the rest of your life!)


  • Always Use Sunscreen - This is an extremely important rule to remember, and is the number one rule to follow after the initial healing period is over. If you’re a sun god/goddess and you’re always outside in the hot weather, it won’t take long for the sun to turn your bright, clear, colorful tattoo into a dull, wrinkled, blurry mess - so never forget to properly protect it when outside and AVOID EXPOSING YOUR TATTOO TO THE UV RAYS OF A TANNING BED.

  • Continue to Moisturize - Your tattoo will continue to look at its best for as long as your skin is kept at its best. Keep your skin as healthy and as hydrated as possible and your tattoo should stand up to the test of time.

  • Drink Plenty of Water - As well as moisturizing to keep your skin hydrated, drinking enough water will also help greatly in clearing out toxins beneath your skin.

  • Live and Eat Healthy - An active lifestyle and a high nutrition diet will do wonders for your skin and your tattoos.




Now you know all the needs of your new piece, it just lasts one thing to say: Enjoy it! :)

© Santa Perpetua tattoo artist - Brighton, UK - (+44) 7537 968160 -


Portraits & studio pictures by Manon Pauffin Photograpy

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