Aftercare is easy. The rule is keep it clean and SOMEWHAT moisturized. In my opinion it's better to err on the side of too dry over too moist.
1. When you get home with your freshly bandaged tattoo wait 4-5 hours then, WASH YOUR HANDS and take off the bandage (you can leave it on over night if it’s late and you don’t want to stay up for 5 hours).
2. Wash your hands again, and wash the tattoo with warm soap and water. You want to use something mild. Antibacterial soap is good, a vegetable based glycerine soap is too. Dr. Bronners is another good choice.
3. Air drying is ideal but we don’t all have time for that so pat (not rub) dry with a clean paper towel. Don’t use your house towels, even out of the laundry there is bacteria, keep a roll of paper towels in the bathroom so you don’t forget.
4. Use a SMALL, SMALL, SMALL amount of the aftercare I will provide for you. When I say small, I mean a small amount. Just rub your CLEAN fingers across the top and rub it into the tattoo. Then wipe off the excess. You shouldn’t be able to see a layer of ointment. In most cases, if you run out you are using too much.
REPEAT STEPS 2, 3 and 4 twice a day for two weeks. That’s it! Clean > Dry > Ointment!
The first night you should wear clothes you don’t care about. Your tattoo will seep onto your clothes/sheets and you’ll wake up with your tattoo designed imprinted somewhere. This is not an everyday thing. Don’t worry.
In 3 to 4 days your tattoo will begin to feel like a bad sunburn. That’s normal. Sometimes it looks like big flakes of skin, other times it’s like dandruff. In some cases you may scab. Don’t pick at it, don’t help any of the dangling skin off. If you pluck off a little part it may leave a scar there or pull out ink. Let nature take its course, it doesn’t need your help.
NO EXCESS WATER – Showering is fine. Don’t soak your tattoo, no baths, no hot tub, no swimming, no ocean. Soaking your tattoo will lead to scabbing. Scabs, when they come off too soon, take ink with them.
NO SUNSHINE – Sun will fade your tattoo. In the healing stages it will happen a lot faster. Don’t re-bandage it but do wear clean loose-fitting clothes over your tattoo for the first two weeks. After that be mindful and wear sunscreen.
EXERCISE – Your own sweat is fine but if you do an exercise where your tattoo will be rubbing on public gym equipment this is a great way to get an infection. Don’t do it. Also be mindful of excess stretching. You have brand new skin forming so don’t stretch it out. You can scar it that way too.
Vegan after care is hard to find in stores. Some Whole Foods carry it. Merry Hempsters has begun selling it at some health food stores. Worst case scenario, you can just use tiny amounts of non-fragrant lotion. I don’t suggest any petroleum-based products. Fuck A and D ointment and Aquaphor. That shit will clog your pores and make things worse.
If you have any questions about your healing tattoo DON’T ask your friends. Ask me or a dermatologist! Send me a picture, 99 percent of the time, it’s fine.