Next to choosing your tattoo artist, taking care of your healing tattoo is the most important step in the tattoo process. After all, you have made a lifetime investment, and you should enjoy it. Therefore, your job for the next week or so is to baby your tattoo so that it heals beautifully. This diligence will minimize health risks and maximize the vividness of your new tattoo.
Keep the tattoo bandaged for about one hour after the tattoo is finished.
Peel off the tape and bandage, touching the tattoo as little as possible. Do not rebandage unless absolutely necessary--if you are going to a place where the tattoo could get dirty, for example. Leaving a bandage on the tattoo can result in too much moisture, which will not allow it to heal properly.
Wash the tattoo with mild, unscented soap and water two or three times per day for seven to 10 days. Use your hand to wash it lightly and then gently pat it dry with a clean, soft towel or paper towel.
Put a very thin layer of antibiotic ointment on the washed tattoo and try not to touch it to anything. If it looks greasy, you have applied too much; blot it gently with a paper towel. Too much ointment can make the tattoo too moist, which may mean it will peel too quickly and not heal properly.
When the tattoo is fully healed--which is after the entire tattoo has peeled--use an unscented, dye-free, alcohol-free lotion or dry skin repair ointment a couple of times a day to soften the skin. Your skin should be nice and soft within two or three days, and your tattoo will look brilliant.
When you wash your tattoo the first day, you probably will notice ink rubbing off. This is just excess ink and is perfectly normal. The tattoo should wash cleanly after the second or third time.
Near the end of the healing process, the tattoo will start to peel. Do not be alarmed if you see colored flakes of skin peeling. This is just part of the healing process. Leaving the tattoo to peel on its own is a big part of achieving a beautiful result.
Wash your hands before doing anything that involves touching your tattoo while it is healing.
Avoid going swimming or soaking the tattoo while it is healing. The tattoo is an open wound and needs to scab over, which requires it to be fairly dry. Soaking the tattoo could cause it to peel too soon and possibly lead to an infection.
Keep the tattoo out of excessive sunlight while it is healing. After it has healed, use sunscreen on it to avoid fading.
If you feel that you have an infection--excessive swelling, redness and pain are the first signs--see a doctor as soon as possible.