Taking Care of Your Art - Healing Your Tattoo

Every shop has a set of instructions on how to take care of a new tattoo.  Although you might prefer a certain way of healing your fresh ink, we still ask that you take into consideration our recommendations for the care of your tattoo as it heals.  All of the information below is an accumulation of knowledge from 10+ years of experience. We’re still learning as technology changes and people conform to them, but this is the best of what we’ve practiced.

Surrendering to the Art

Getting a tattoo is, initially, traumatizing to your skin and your immune system. Your body treats a tattoo as an unfamiliar act against your body’s wellbeing.  A new tattoo may become red or slightly swollen, this is the body’s way of handling a possibly dangerous situation.  After the initial shock to the system, your tattoo remains an open wound until it’s fully healed.  Depending on the size of the tattoo and your body’s ability to heal itself, healing may take up to 2 weeks, or longer.

While your skin is exposed where the tattoo is, you have to take certain precautions to make sure no infection or damage to the artwork occurs.  The requirements are simple, and take very little time, but you do have to remember to do them, or the quality of how your tattoo turns out cannot be fully guaranteed. 

Part of the Ritual

One of the biggest parts of getting new ink, is the actual needle to skin process. The second part is assisting your new art during healing.  Much like buying a shiny new trinket, you’ll probably clean it and make sure no one else touches it for a while.  Getting a new tattoo is very similar; you’ll need to be cautious of it’s surroundings and make sure it’s being cleaned.

Strange bacteria are everywhere, and the places they hang out the most are the places you probably think about the least.  Places like your bed sheets; where you work; your desk, the sink or bathroom; children, if you have them or work at a community center, school or daycare; even your clothes if you don’t frequently wash them.  Its best to keep your tattoo away from as much as possible as it heals.

The procedure:

  • remove the wrap 1-2 hours after receiving the tattoo, let it breath. If you’re going into a particularily unclean area immediately after, you may keep your wrap on until you get home.

  • wash it with clean water. Anti-bacterial soap is okay, regular unscented soap is too.  No scrubbing or wiping.

  • put a thin layer of ointment on after washing.  

  • keep it moisturized with ointment throughout the day.  Do not use scented lotions or vaseline. We recommend our own all natural aftercare: DORK+ Tattoo Aftercare.

And repeat this for as long as needed.  Don’t ever peel scabs. Seems simple, right?

A Healing Tattoo and A Healed Tattoo

After you’ve followed the procedure, the entire ritual is complete when your new art is healed; not scabbing, not red, not swollen, just flat normal skin.  An unhealed or still healing tattoo can vary in appearance depending on how you’ve taken care of your tattoo: it may still be swollen, red, or itchy if not healed completely.  In some extreme cases it may even bubble up.  This is when the body is trying to counteract the ink and bacteria, which may occur if you’ve introduced something to the healing process, or soaked your tattoo in dirty water.  Even if this level of change has occurred, the tattoo can still heal properly and turn out completely fine.

Many people panic if their tattoo isn’t healed within a couple weeks.  Depending on the size of your tattoo, it may be unusual for a tattoo to take longer, but we have to consider that everyone’s immune system isn’t the same, neither are their careers and surroundings, it may just take more time.  If you feel that something is unusual, it is always wise to visit a medical practitioner if you think your tattoo is not healing well, but we’d advise you call your tattoo artist first and ask for the best way to take care of it in the state that it’s in.  More often than not, your artist will know exactly what you should do next in order for your tattoo to heal just fine.  

Rinse and Repeat

After you’ve gotten a tattoo and it’s healed properly, you’ll get to know your body more and how it reacts to getting tattoos.  More than likely, you’ll formulate your own way of healing your tattoos and what works best.  Always keep in mind that your body’s physical health changes in between tattoos, and what you’ve done to heal your artwork before, may not work the same.  You may say, ‘Well, I’ve always done this to my tattoos and I’ve never had a problem before’. Our bodies are always changing.  Stay tuned to what your body needs and keep a close eye on the healing process of your tattoo.  Take into account that your body has a unique way of healing itself.  And when in doubt, call your artist.

Then you can get another, and another... We know you’ll be back ;)

With Love,

Doree x DORK