Tattoo Aftercare – Caring For Your New Tattoo
So, you just got a brand new tattoo. If you’re lucky, you’ve nailed down an appointment with a member of the Helios Pro Team like Ryan Ashley or Allisin Riot, and you want to make sure your blacks stay black and your colors keep popping. The tattoo aftercare and healing method you choose has a lot to do with the way your tattoo is going to look over time; lucky for you, there’s a brand new method that shows promise in keeping your tattoo looking day one fresh for years to come.
Traditionally, when healing a tattoo, you’ll go through three distinct stages.
- Stage One – Oozing
- Stage Two – Scabbing and peeling
- Stage Three – Final peel
Stage One – Oozing
Stage one begins immediately after your artist is finished. Plasma will begin coming to the surface, as your tattoo is now an open wound and your body is doing its best to heal itself. Your artist will clean your tattoo with antibacterial soap and then wrap the tattoo with a bandage to keep dirt and bacteria out.
You’ll be expected to remove the bandage, clean your arm, and replace the bandage at least 3-4 times a day. Over the course of a week, scabs will form over the tattoo and the oozing will stop.
Stage Two – Scabbing and peeling
Stage two will still require you to keep the tattoo clean, but during this phase, the scabs that formed at the end of stage one will begin to flake and fall off. Your skin will be very dry, and you’ll want to use products like A&D ointment or After Inked to keep your skin moist and help deal with the itch.
Stage Three – Final peel
Stage three usually begins about 2 weeks after your tattoo was completed. The tattoo will look completely healed, but it may be paler than you were expecting. This is because the dead surface layers of skin above the tattoo have not fully peeled away. After a few weeks, the sub-layers will heal and the top layers will completely peel. You will finally get to see your finished product!
This method has been the “tried and true” option for people getting tattoos for decades, but lately, a new method has begun to surface, and many tattoo artists and studios are backing the “derm method” of healing as a superior choice for faster healing without scabs, and brighter colors in the end. Additionally, it requires little to no maintenance on your part and keeps ink, lymph, and blood from staining your clothes and sheets!
With the “derm method” of healing, after the tattoo is completed your artist will bandage the area and send you home as usual. Once you get home you’ll wash the tattoo with antibacterial soap to remove the initial flow of lymph, and then you’ll apply a sheet of Tegaderm, Saniderm, Tatuderm, View Guard, or whatever bio-occlusive film you choose. You’ll leave that on for three days, and then remove.
And that’s it. You’re done!
All of these films are similar in function, so we’ll go over the basic method through which they work.
Originally created to create a safety barrier for medical ports, where blocking bacteria is a matter of life and death, these films also function beautifully for healing tattoos. They are permeable to oxygen and water vapor but do not allow water, bacteria, dirt, or anything else to access the delicate tissue of the newly tattooed skin.
When your skin is injured in any way, including getting a tattoo, your body attempts to remove dead and dying tissue through a process called autolytic debridement. The fluids you see coming to the surface after an injury are made up of moisture and enzymes and are your body’s attempt to break down dead tissue. When they dry they become scabs. But science has created a better method of healing than a scab. By applying a bio-occlusive film to your tattoo the enzymes (called autolysins) are kept moist and functioning under the film, while your skin is still allowed to breathe. This speeds up the tattoo healing process by ensuring that ink is not pulled out in the same way it sometimes is with traditional scabbing; colors and blacks can appear more vibrant than those tattoos healed through traditional methods.
Across the country, many tattoo shops have already adopted these new healing methods, and many others are doing research with their clients to decide if it works for them. No matter which healing method you choose, make sure you discuss your aftercare plan with your artist!
Have you tried the “derm method” of healing? Tell us about your results in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!